A summary of the key recent LinkedIn changes and how you can benefit from them

by Kirsten Hodgson

The shutting down of LinkedIn’s Answers feature on 31 January 2013 marks the latest in a series of changes made by LinkedIn recently.

For those of you struggling to keep up, or who think you might have missed something, here’s a summary of what’s changed and, where relevant, some tips for you to take advantage of these changes:

1. New LinkedIn profiles were introduced in late 2012

These really emphasise your photo, your summary section and social proof (primarily in the form of Endorsements although photos of your connections appear much more prominently than in the older version).

If you haven’t already, you will need to spend some time on your profile to ensure it positions you well.

You are also able to add a number of additional attachments to the bottom of the summary, and many other sections – including videos, presentations, blogs etc. This is a great way to highlight content you’ve put together or details of upcoming events.

To do so,

Click the ‘add a link’ icon (it looks like a square with a plus in the corner (at the top of the relevant section [when you're in the Edit view]

Then type or paste in the link to your content.

There are many types of media links you can add to your LinkedIn profile so long as they have a public URL.

I recommend taking advantage of this functionality and changing the links you use when relevant.

You can also add sections to your profile (see the right hand side of your profile screen) and can still re-order the sections in your profile so they appear in the order in which you want them to.

2. LinkedIn launched its endorsements feature

Endorsements (love them or hate them) look to be here to stay. The main problem that professionals have spoken to me about, is that they’re endorsed for skills they don’t consider they have.

That’s because LinkedIn used to suggest (and perhaps still does although I haven’t seen the blue box pop up recently!) to members that they endorse people for specific skills based on LinkedIn’s algorithm and it didn’t always come up with the best suggestions (okay, it usually didn’t).

If you want to endorse someone the best thing to do is to go into their profile and endorse them for one or more of the skills they have listed.

When should you endorse and when should you recommend? 

If someone has done a great job on something, you should recommend them. It quickly gives others a really good impression of what someone’s like to work with and takes time and effort so it’s a great way to show your appreciation.

If you want to quickly acknowledge someone’s expertise in a particular area, then endorse them.

Why the overlap between endorsements and recommendations?

While LinkedIn hasn’t confirmed or denied it, there was speculation in the blogosphere that endorsements may be LinkedIn’s way of bringing some independence to its search rankings. 

Rather than stuffing your profile with keywords in order to appear higher up search results (which you were able to do), this may be a way of sorting those who really know their stuff from those who don’t. Of course, if this is the case, there are still issues – it turns it into a popularity contest with those with larger networks more likely to have more endorsements than those with fewer connections, but I guess it’s a start.

3. You can feature up to 3 groups on your company page

If you’re a group owner or want to promote a group to which you belong, to followers of your company (firm) you can now do so (provided you are a member, or group manager, of the group you wish to promote. And of course you’ll need to be an admin of your company profile!)

To do so:

  • Go to your company page. 
  • Click the blue ‘Edit’ button that appears near the top right hand side of the page. 
  • Scroll down the page which appears until you get to the ‘Featured Groups’ section. 
  • Start typing the name of the group you wish to promote and then select it from the drop down list that will appear. 
  • Scroll back up the page and hit the blue ‘Publish’ button. 

4. The way you create a poll has changed and it’s now easier to promote your polls more widely

The easiest way to create a poll is to go to http://polls.linkedin.com

You’ll then have the option to share it via LinkedIn (updates, groups and with individual connections). But you can also tweet it, share it on Facebook, grab a link that you can send in an email or blog post, or embed the code on your website or blog.

The polls feature is really easy to use and it’s great that LinkedIn have made it so easy for people to share their polls both within the platform and more widely.

5. LinkedIn events feature has been removed

LinkedIn shut down its events feature in late November 2012. However, they do say you can still share details of events via your status updates and in relevant groups.

I do think it’s a shame this feature has gone. With a bit of refining and investment (such as enabling people to promote recurring events) it could have been really useful. At a basic level it was great for finding out what events were taking place in a particular city or on a specific topic.

6. LinkedIn Answers feature has been removed

According to a discussion on the Answers feature before the feature shut down, a relatively small minority of people used this. While it was useful for asking questions and providing answers where relevant, there did appear to be the same people answering every single question going.

LinkedIn says:

“We’ll be focusing our efforts on the development of new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn. In the meantime, you can still pose questions and facilitate professional discussions through other popular LinkedIn channels including LinkedIn Polls, Groups, or status updates.”

This feature probably had outlived its purpose. You can ask questions in relevant groups and of your network going forward. If it’s a LinkedIn related issue, their Help Center can be useful – and, if your query’s not addressed there, you can email them directly.

If you want to ask a question of a broader audience, Quora is quite a good network on which to do so. 

7. The ability to see who in your groups is following you has been removed

This was always a ‘clunky’ feature but it was useful to see who in a specific group had chosen to follow you. The downfall was you had to scroll through a huge list, which included all your first-degree connections, to find these people and the only way you could identify them was by the 2nd degree connection or group marker to show how you were connected.

The upside was you could reach out to these people, start to build a relationship and generate new work.

I asked LinkedIn why they’d removed this feature and they replied:

“The only members outside of your connections that can follow you are your group members. Since you can’t remove group followers and they can only see shared group content, the decision was made to remove the ability to view them. This is the first of several related steps to simplify the groups experience.”

It would certainly be useful to bring a refined, searchable variation of this back in future. People who’ve chosen to follow you are likely to be competitors, someone you’ve had a conversation with via group discussions, or someone who’s liked what you’ve had to say. If they’re in the latter category, it’s important to know so that you can determine where to from here.

What else changed in 2012?

In late December 2012, LinkedIn put out a slideshare presentation ‘Oh, what a year its been’, which sets out the key developments in 2012. It’s definitely worth a look.

What do you think of these changes? 

Are there any others I missed? 

What other tips do you have to take advantage of these? 

 

 

 

Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant