Regular LinkedIn users will have noticed there has been quite a bit of change on the platform of late.
Indeed the last six months has seen a raft of new developments resulting in something that seems rather different to the site that attracted its first tranche of users back in 2003.
With more than 500 million accounts on the site, LinkedIn has the challenge of delivering value to diverse groups of people while, at the same time, helping a greater percentage of its casual users to use it more successfully and more frequently.
Addressing that challenge lies at the heart of the changes that LinkedIn has been making, with the added challenge of attempting to bring the two strands of development – desktop and mobile – more in line in terms of look and feel.
That goal is laudable but the implementation has been messy and fragmented resulting in uproar in certain quarters, particularly among the tranche of power users who were most accustomed to what they could achieve with LinkedIn and the functionality it offered.
As it happens, for the vast majority of users little if any functionality will be noticeably absent from the new LinkedIn layout, although there has been a clear move to push certain key tools up into some of the premium account offerings.
The beneficiary has in particular been Sales Navigator, a paid feature aimed at the business developer. Navigator contains some of the filtering and targeting tools that, in a utopian world, we would all have access to but which, in LinkedIn’s case, come at a price.
So what’s changed?
Your homepage, in essence, retains its previous format. It still displays a custom newsfeed containing news and information that has been shared by your connections and by the companies and influencers you follow.
The order is now dictated by an algorithm displaying ‘Top Updates’, although the previously available option of changing this to display information chronologically is rumoured to be making a welcome return.
You should also see a new feature displaying a block of ‘Trending Storylines’, which delivers news curated specially by a team within LinkedIn.
READ MORE: Using LinkedIn blogging for marketing
On the left of the screen, you will see a floating block giving you access to your profile page and to a list of the people who have viewed your profile. If you don’t see anything on that page then you might like to check your settings page in case you have made yourself anonymous when visiting others’ profiles. You don’t want to miss out on such a valuable marketing opportunity as that.
You will also see a summary of the views of any recent articles you’ve shared.
Invitations and your list of Connections now sit under the ‘My Network’ icon in the top menu. Here you can decide to accept (or not) those people who have invited you to connect and check out the message they have sent with the invite… if indeed they sent one. If they didn’t, then by clicking ‘manage all’ at the top you have the chance to message them without accepting their invite to find out more about why they have got in touch.
The Jobs and Messaging areas remain relatively unchanged, although they have been given a graphic overhaul and emojis have been removed from the messaging system. Was there ever really a place for them in a business context?
There is, however, now a floating Messaging box at the bottom of your screen which allows you to view and write messages without leaving the page, giving you access to the recipient’s profile and the valuable information you might wish to use there.
The area that has perhaps been most contentious has been the changes to the Search options and the much lamented demise of the ‘advanced search’ functionality. As it happens, it really hasn’t been killed off at all; at least the key search options of interest to most people anyway.
LinkedIn hasn’t yet made it easy to use, though. Searching in the top search box effectively searches through all parts of the site so, if you are looking for people in a specific role or company or location, then the results you are hoping for will be submerged beneath a deluge of other information.
However, on the right-hand side of the resulting page, a quick click on the ‘Keywords’ tab allows you to focus on individual (or multiple) job titles, ideal for targeted prospecting.
There is a click box allowing you to target specific companies and, under ‘Location’, you can choose multiple postal areas to narrow it geographically. Throw in a little Boolean searching where necessary and you can create a highly targeted prospect or candidate search.
Underpinning all of your activity is your profile – think of it as your sales and marketing brochure plus your business card all rolled into one.
The Personal Profile warrants an article all of its own, but here are a few key points to take away from this post:
- Make sure that you have built in a banner at the top that reflects your brand and/or offerings, and use your ‘Headline’ to communicate your value proposition and what you might be able to offer to those connecting to you.
- Likewise, ensure your photo reflects you, the professional, and try to deliver a succinct call-to-action in the first two lines of your Summary, which is all that LinkedIn initially shows now.
- Finally, use the capability of building videos, documents, images and links into the key areas – they can showcase your offerings, deliver collateral and be effective calls-to-action all at the same time.
While the changes are significant in places and haven’t gone down too well in some quarters, change is inevitable and it shouldn’t take us all long to adapt.
There is still a huge amount of value that you can get from LinkedIn, even using a free account. There’s a major opportunity for those who are willing to dive a little deeper beneath the surface.
I hope this post has encouraged you to do just that and to go further than simply dipping your toe into the new interface.
Take a look at the LinkedIn training Mark can offer.