The Odd Little World That Is (the new) LinkedIn Notifications

Notifications have become a bigger deal under the new LinkedIn Desktop User Interface. It’s now one of the “big six” tabs across the top of your screen, along with Home, My Network, Jobs, Messaging and Me.  

While I have read that some people don’t like the new format, I do like the  dedicated stream that opens up when you click Notifications. I always used to hate the little narrow slider on the old notifications pop up window. That was user nasty.   

For the purpose of this article, consider the terms “post” and “article” to be interchangeable, as LinkedIn appears to treat notifications similarly for both (a post is a short piece of content that goes right into the homepage feed, while an article is long form content that stays attached to your profile).

Here is what I have seen that is changed or different in Notifications. Like many aspects of the new User Interface, there appear to be bugs and omissions in Notifications, so I should qualify this article by saying that this is what I see on my screen as of writing this post March 20th.   

What you get notified for

* Likes or Comments on your posts or articles.

You get notified when someone likes your post or comments on your post. I will talk more about Likes when I write about Publishing, Views and Statistics but likes are wonky in the new format. They are hard to track and give you less info (just the name, headline, and photo) than they used to.  

* Jobs you may be interested in

I seem to get this several times a week.

* Wish connections a Happy Birthday

Arrives daily. A list of everyone who has a birthday that day.

* Congratulate connections on work anniversaries

Arrives daily. A list of some of the people who have a work anniversary this month. LinkedIn parses these out piecemeal over the course of the month, as for most us, dumping all fifty or five hundred people who have an anniversary this month in one notification would be overwhelming.

* Congratulate a connection or connections on starting a new position

Daily. A list of those people starting a new job.  

* Mentions

This is the biggy. Mentions now rule the roost. Mentioning someone in a post, or in a comment on a post, or someone liking a post or a comment that mentions you, generates a notification, and these notifications seem to supersede all others. I usually hide these posts from other people after I have weighed in, as the mention related notifications will push out all my other notifications – like comments on my own posts – and completely dominate my notifications feed.

Conjecture: get ready to get mentioned to death as the social sellers discover and start gaming this feature.

* New endorsements from your connections

A low level priority it seems. I see these occasionally.

* Someone you follow has published an article

Rare. At least for me. I have had the new UI since early February and I can remember seeing one notification for a connection who has published an article. And I have a lot of connections who post every week.

* Further engagement with a post you engaged with

Someone commented on a post you commented on.

* Followers

Once a day I receive a list of any new followers I have. What’s alarming about this is that this is the only place in the new UI where there is any reference to my  followers at all. I have approximately seven hundred followers. I know who the four are that followed me yesterday and the two from the day before. The rest of my followers? No way of knowing. I think your phantom followers have taken the place of the anonymous LinkedIn profile viewers, as in: “There are several hundred people who are interested in you Mr Johnston, and have signed up to follow you, but we are not going to tell you who they are.”

What you do not get notified for

* Shares

No notifications of people sharing your post – unless the sharer mentions you. I think people who share my posts are the single most important engagement opportunity on LinkedIn. Either this is a mistake LinkedIn will rectify, or LinkedIn doesn’t think sharing is important anymore, in which case they need to change the Social Selling Index, as sharing is a critical part of the SSI.

Summary: the new somewhat improved notifications

LinkedIn has consolidated some types of notifications into once a day types. This is good.   

LinkedIn will also consolidate your likes and comments for a particular post into one notification (Bob Smith and twelve others liked or commented on your post). This is good.

There appears to be a hierarchy of notifications. Mentions are on top, along with likes and comments on your posts. Notifications for new posts by people you follow are on the bottom and get lost. This is bad, as most people would like to define their own hierarchy thanks.

There appears to be a maximum number of notifications of 9.

This is smart. No one wants to open up LinkedIn and see three hundred notifications waiting, in the same way that no one goes, “Oh goody, I have three hundred emails!”

You receive a lot more notifications when you are logged on to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn seems to detect when you are on LinkedIn. When I first logged in yesterday morning there were nine notifications waiting for me. Over the next three hours (a Sunday morning mind you) I received a dozen more.  This is good (more timely notifications) and bad (potentially interrupts my workflow).  

The most powerful tool on LinkedIn is the Mention.

For now anyway. Mentions appear to be the guaranteed way to get a notification to someone. Expect to see your name in bold on a lot of posts.

 

Suggestion: Hide posts that are dominating your feed. I have found that commenting on a post that then gets a lot more comments can really clog up my feed. I have started going back to the post and clicking on “Hide this post” (it’s under the three dots at the top right of the post). This frees up a lot of room in the feed for notifications I want to see.

Like quite a few aspects of the new UI, notifications has been cleaned up and made to look more presentable, which is good for the occasional user. For us power users, the same complaints remain: I would like to have more control over what I see in my feed.

 

11 Fundamental Truths About Using LinkedIn



If you keep these ideas in mind, you will make better use of LinkedIn and the time you invest in it.

Individual LinkedIn users will never get the respect companies do

Money talks. If you have lots of money to spend on lots of premium subscriptions, ads or sponsored updates, LinkedIn will be keen to talk to you. I have had two people from LinkedIn reach out and take an interest in me and what I was doing in the past six years. In both cases once they realized I did not have twenty-five thousand dollars a quarter (I’m not kidding) to spend on job or marketing related ads on LinkedIn, it was like I was radioactive. The calls ended very quickly.  

You are a data point to be sold

Expect recruiters and salespeople to try contacting you. That’s the price of admission. Be gracious to people who approach you intelligently and respectfully. But if they don’t approach you intelligently and respectfully, all bets are off. Spammers and people who send automated crap messages should be treated with the lack of respect they deserve and reported with extreme prejudice.  

You’ll Pay For Everything On LinkedIn

This idea looks prescient after the User Interface changes we have just gone through. A lot of LinkedIn users have problems with this idea, because they are used to using LinkedIn for free. But using LinkedIn as a place to build your business’s credibility, and to find and interact with prospective customers and still expecting it to be free?  

LinkedIn will never be a fabulous user experience

There are too many different constituencies inherent in five hundred million users. You have people who use it every day and people who show up once a year. You have people using it for sales, research, recruiting, networking, job search and a hundred other reasons. And each of those groups has a laundry list of features they wish LinkedIn had. As far as user experiences are concerned, “serviceable” is probably the best you should hope for.

If you don’t have a plan, you can waste an awful lot of time on LinkedIn

Plan what you need to do to accomplish your LinkedIn related goals, do those things, and leave.

Using automation on LinkedIn makes you less social

You can have quality and be one-on-one social or you can have automation and go for quantity. But treating your connections like an email list doesn’t seem very social to me. Engage one on one with your connections and other people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a contact sport.

LinkedIn makes LinkedIn impersonal too

LinkedIn is partially at fault for making LinkedIn impersonal too, courtesy of the one button “congratulate” features for things like birthdays, work anniversaries, and new jobs. Here’s what I think when I receive one of those canned responses: “Wow, that person reached all the way to their mouse and moved it over the “congratulate” button. Then – using their other hand, mind you – they reached all the way over and pressed “enter”.  How thoughtful!” Actually I don’t feel that way because LinkedIn has trained everyone to think this is something we should do.

Social selling on LinkedIn is just like regular selling

In that, if you do it well, it works. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people doing it well (just like regular selling).

You get out of LinkedIn in direct relation to what you put in to LinkedIn

By all means you can do LinkedIn in ten minutes a day, just expect to get results corresponding to ten minutes worth of effort.

It’s still a give to get world

The minute you start looking at someone’s profile and figuring out how you can help them, instead of how they can help you, is the minute you will start moving towards effective results using LinkedIn

And one final thought. For business professionals, LinkedIn is still the best game in town

I have tried a lot of the flavor of the month social networks and despite all its warts, LinkedIn beats them all. The only social network that could challenge LinkedIn is Facebook. Everyone else is just too tiny.


 

LinkedIn Search: What’s Changed In The Free Edition

I had a good look at the free version of Search under the new LinkedIn desktop user interface over the weekend, as it seems that while not totally eliminated, many of the bugs are at least known at this point. And while I am disappointed in a couple of the things that were lost or moved to Sales Navigator, the overall search “experience” is much better than I thought it would be, with one rather large caveat that I will get to later in this post.  

Here’s what’s new, what’s changed and what’s gone.

Types of searches

We used to be able to choose between: 

People

Jobs

Companies

Groups

Universities

Posts

Inbox

Changes:

“Inbox” has been lost, but the other six remain. However, as LinkedIn allows you to search your messages in your message center, losing Inbox search  isn’t a surprise.

Bugs:

I have heard from many users who seem to be missing one of the tabs, usually “Companies” or “Groups”.  

I like the new presentation where you enter your initial search term or name and then choose which type of search you want to perform.

Filters we have now and changes

We used to have these filters:

Keywords                       Title

Location                         Relationship

First name                     Last Name

Current Company        Past Company

Industry                        School

Profile Language          Non Profit Interests

Changes:

“Relationship” is now “Connections” as you now can only choose among 1st, 2nd and 3rd. No fellow group members.

“Keywords” now includes sub-fields for first name, last name, title, company and school.  This is a much more user friendly setup than the old search which had one general “Keywords” field and another specifically for “Title”.

“Location” hasn’t changed and this is too bad because locations kinda sucked in the old version of search (ie it still does). Search in the free version of LinkedIn is still set up for recruiters and not for salespeople. For example, I pity any salesperson who has New Jersey as their sales territory because New Jersey does not exist in free LinkedIn search. It does in Sales Navigator, so I know that LinkedIn is capable of locating New Jersey on a map.

“Industries” has changed minorly. There are 148 industries listed as of Friday March 3rd. By my count there were four new industries added in the last year: Construction, Music, Investment Management and Outsourcing/Offshoring.

What’s gone?

Location by zip or postal code

Location by proximity (number of miles or kilometers)

Groups was part of the “Relationship” filter along with 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections. The Relationship filter is now the “Connections” filter and allows filtering by 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections only (cue ominous music re: future of groups on LinkedIn).


The (evil) Commercial Search Limit  

Microsoft has asserted they can grow LinkedIn’s sales, and one way to do so is to get more Sales Navigator and Recruiter subscribers. And one way to do that is to limit how many searches a user can execute for free.

As the “old” commercial search limit was never publicly defined by LinkedIn, it is hard to tell if this has changed, but lowering the CSL would have a bigger impact on many LinkedIn users than all the more obvious changes to functionality. I tried an experiment last week,  sharing a screen with a colleague who has a free LinkedIn account and the new UI. He performed 53 searches, defined as entering a term of one type or another in the Search Bar and hitting the “Search” button. No problem. We even took a bunch of the searches and refined the results four or five times. No problem. While this is not conclusive evidence by any means, it seems to indicate that the commercial search limit has not been changed to  something awful like five or ten searches.

 

Saved searches

Once you perform a search, Saved Searches show up at the bottom of the filter column on the right.

 

You appear to get three Saved Searches.

Bug: some people don’t have Saved Searches yet.

 

Conclusions / Some closing thoughts on the new LinkedIn Search

  • The new Search is much easier to use and much more intuitive. I think LinkedIn users will be able to use this version more effectively than the old search.
  • We lost some functionality. People who made heavy use of searching by zip code or proximity are out of luck. But not as much functionality was lost as we were led to believe.
  • The marginalization of LinkedIn Groups continues
  • The wild card remains the Commercial Search Limit. If the CSL has been reduced again (and this certainly seems likely), a lot of users won’t really care about all the changes to functionality and the user interface.
  • If you are not getting the search results you are looking for, or you keep running into the Commercial Search Limit, you are either searching ineffectively or you need Sales Navigator. Know the difference, because if you are searching poorly it’s just going to cost you eighty bucks a month to get the same lousy results.  
  • In my experience – as teaching LinkedIn search and performing searches for clients is a lot of what I do – most LinkedIn members still use search inefficiently and ineffectively. They wind up with the wrong results, or too many results or too few. A lot of using LinkedIn Search still depends on you the user, so
    • Be clear about what results you want.
    • Understand how Boolean search works.
    • Define what information you have that will help narrow the search  down.
    • Use the filters for help. Check each filter to see if they will help narrow your results.
    • If you have important searches, do them early in the month before you risk hitting the CSL.
  • It is unclear if the weekly updates with new people found in your saved searches counts towards the CSL. It probably doesn’t. You get three saved searches. If you have a lot of repetitive searches, save them.

While everyone likes to call it the “professional social network”, LinkedIn is more accurately described as a database of 500 million people with the advanced search tools that can be used to search and make sense of that database. Know how to use those search tools to get the most out of LinkedIn.

 

A Path To Success On LinkedIn


It leads through your connections.

If you are an average LinkedIn user, you may have something on the order of five hundred connections.

A few questions to ponder:  

Why are you connected with them?

What is the purpose of your connections?

If you have five hundred connections, does that mean four hundred is bad and six hundred would be better?

What do you want from them?

What do they want from you?

How much do you interact with them?

What do you know about them? “My connection Bob Smith is an engineering consultant.” Great. What type of engineering? What’s his real specialty?  Who are his typical clients? Industry? Local? National? Big companies? Startups? What’s that? You say you don’t have time to find all that out about him. I see.  And why are you connected with Bob then? Because he may refer clients to you? You want nothing to do with helping him but you hope he helps you? Well, good luck with that.

Many LinkedIn users seem to have connection networks that are a mile wide and an inch deep. They collect connections but never talk to them. These connections are assets. These are the people that have the ability to open doors for you. Ignoring them isn’t an optimal strategy. You will notice I said “they collect connections but never talk to them.” I used the word “talk” for a reason.

Not automated messaging, not bots, not templates.

Not LinkedIn messaging, not text, not email.

Talking.

I have conversations with a lot of my connections, especially with people I have not met prior to meeting them through LinkedIn. Want to know what the first thing is they usually say to me when we talk via Skype or phone?

“This is the first time I have had one of these calls. No one does this on LinkedIn.”

Think about that statement for a minute. What does it say about LinkedIn and LinkedIn users when a LinkedIn member is surprised when one of their connections wants to talk to them?  

LinkedIn is supposed to be about professional networking, yet it seems hardly anybody does. When did connections become something to be collected and pulled out and admired from time to time like old baseball cards? A LinkedIn network isn’t numbers, it’s people.

I set aside time time to have calls with ten or fifteen of my connections  every week. Every week. Just fifteen minutes each. But in that fifteen minutes I find out what their real specialties are. What they are passionate about. And that helps me help them. In January I introduced twenty-four of my connections to people I thought might be a good fit for them. And a lot of the connections I spoke with referred people to me. The result is new connections and new business, for both my connections and myself.  

If you are like most LinkedIn users, you come to LinkedIn, read a couple of articles, add a like or a comment, follow a company or two, and call it “networking.” Instead, invest just a little effort in talking to a few of your connections. You will stand head and shoulders above their other connections, because hardly anyone networks on LinkedIn, and almost no one networks effectively.  

The New LinkedIn User Interface: 2 Good, 4 Bad And 4 Ugly Changes

Plus conjecture, other oddities in the new LinkedIn UI, and a possible win win suggestion.

One oddity of the new UI is that with all the bugs and hiccups, I am not sure if there is one new UI or 460 million individual unique LinkedIn UI’s. With that in mind, some early (based on one week) observations on the new User Interface…

Good: Notifications get their own feed. Hallelujah. That little slider thingee in the old notifications window drove me nuts.

Bad: your followers have disappeared. The only ones you can find are ones that are new, that you have been notified about today.  

Ugly: The list of who liked a post only seems accessible from a notification that someone liked your post.

Ugly: Groups have been shunted off to Island of Misfit Toys, also known as the  “More” tab. Methinks this doesn’t augur well for Groups. Note that “Jobs” get their own tab while Groups do not. This decision hardly reinforces the idea that LinkedIn is more of a social network than a jobs board.  

Even uglier: Creating a company page fared even worse than Groups. You have to use the little slider on the More tab to slide down and reveal “Create Company Page” which is otherwise hidden.

Just plain weird: The “More” tab has ProFinder on it. Unfortunately, ProFinder is not available where I live (Toronto) yet. If LinkedIn is going to have tabs that aren’t functional, they might as well have some fun ones, like having a tab that says “Free Money.”

I ambivalent about:  Pulse disappearing

Good: A lot of what seemed like five or six hundred possible profile sections have been eliminated.

Bad: thank you to anyone who shares my post. Normally I try to send messages  and thank people who share my posts. Unfortunately, the new UI won’t tell you who shared your post. Anywhere. Because…well, actually I can’t figure out why LinkedIn would do this. To discourage sharing and engagement?

Odd sidebar: you get notified if someone mentions you in a post. So if someone shares your post and mentions your name in the share, you do get notified. Otherwise, no.

Conjecture on the odd sidebar: get ready to get mentioned to death as people figure out the only way to spread the word is through mentions.

Really really really bad: I have had the new UI for a week. Number of notifications that someone I am connected with or someone I follow has posted: zero. What’s the point of following someone?

Now some of these may be temporary situations, bugs or oversights or miscalculations that LinkedIn has made. But I have an idea that is even better than patching all the mistakes. Let us pay a nominal sum to get the old UI back. Let me explain.

I have read in a few places that the estimate on daily LinkedIn users is 40 million. Based on my own research and anecdotal evidence, of that 40 million daily users,  roughly ALL OF THEM hate the new interface (and associated changes in functionality). So LinkedIn should offer us the old user interface back for $1 a month each. That’s a half a billion dollars a year right there in cold hard cash for Linkrosoft. We get a functional LinkedIn with some search capability, they get money. That’s how you make lemonade out of a lemon.

Litmus Tests For Upgrading To LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Most popular question I have received in the past ten days:

LinkedIn user: “Bruce, where is ‘search’ in the new user interface?

Me: “In Sales Navigator”  

LinkedIn user: “< much profanity deleted here >”

As the new user interface is being rolled out, many LinkedIn users are stuck in a bad spot: choosing whether to upgrade to Sales Navigator and kicking the year off with a big expense they hadn’t planned on. With that in mind here are some ideas that may help you in making a decision with respect to Sales Navigator.

Sales Navigator has three basic sets of additional features compared with the free version of LinkedIn.

1) Sales Navigator has some pretty comprehensive search tools

This consists of twenty search filters, plus search by title and / or keywords.  Ability to save searches. Ability to adjust searches, broadening and narrowing parameters on the fly. I tried Sales Navigator in the late summer of 2015 and considered the search capabilities interesting but not ready for prime time. They are now. If  someone enters something on their LinkedIn profile, you can use it to find them.

And that’s all great, but if you are in charge of commercial airline sales in North America for Boeing, you probably know who all of your prospective clients are already. You don’t need Sales Navigator’s search capabilities. On the other hand, if you are selling printed circuit boards in North America, as a couple of my clients are, there are over ten thousand possible prospects, and that Advanced Search capability would come in pretty handy.  

The test for needing Advanced Search is:

  • do you know who all your prospects are?
  • Or, do you already know of so many prospects that finding more isn’t necessary?

2) Sales Navigator allows you to follow people and companies

You can designate hundreds of people and / or companies as “leads” and Sales Navigator will show you the posts they write or share, company news, and people who make job changes. You can tag people (another feature that was moved from free LinkedIn to Sales Navigator) and sort them.

This is a good suite of features if you are big on social selling and using people’s posts and shares as cues to start conversations with them. If you are more of a traditional “I’m not waiting for him or her to post, I have a compelling story to tell them now” type of person, then this feature becomes a “that’s nice” type of thing.

3) Sales Navigator grants you an allotment of InMails every month

InMails allow you to send messages to second and third degree connections.

If you prefer email or cold calls, then you don’t need this either. But if you like the idea of having the option of InMail as one of the ways you make initial contact with someone, then it can be worthwhile. However, you need to be ready to put the time in to write good InMails, otherwise InMail is just another word for Spam.

I usually tell people that the litmus test for Sales Navigator is when you grumble to yourself that you just don’t have enough prospects (you need Advanced search), or ideas to contact them (you need to be able to follow), or you want to send them direct messages via InMail. If you have one of more of these problems, then you have made a case for getting – or at least trying out – a Sales Navigator subscription.

If you wonder if you need a premium subscription, you probably don’t need it.

If you can point to a specific ability that would make a difference to your sales, then yes, you are heading in the the premium subscription direction.

A premium LinkedIn subscription should allow you to have more: more prospects, more options to contact those prospects, more responses when you do contact those prospects, and more efficient and effective use of your time.

One aspect of LinkedIn’s Premium subscriptions that I really like (which probably means it is doomed) is the ability to sign up for a premium subscription on a monthly basis. It’s more per month, but you can bail out after two or three months if it isn’t working for you.

And a final word: be prepared to put some time in learning how to use Sales Navigator effectively. Following people is pretty easy, but using Advanced Search efficiently – that is narrowing your results list to a manageable number – can have a learning curve, and InMail…well, there’s a lot to InMail. It takes a lot of work to do InMail well. So I wouldn’t recommend Sales Navigator for everybody, and for all you frugal types that are still out there, there are still lots of effective (and some sneaky) ways of using Free LinkedIn for sales.   

 

Coming Changes To LinkedIn Skills & Endorsements On The Desktop User Interface


LinkedIn wrote about changes to Skills and Endorsements back in October. They  started rolling out these changes to the mobile app in late October. They will be enabled on the new User Interface that desktop users are starting to see too. Here’s what’s different and what it may mean.

1) Endorsements are now personalized to each person who visits your profile

For example, skills endorsed by mutual connections, colleagues and people  LinkedIn figures are experts at that skill will be highlighted.   

It looks like LinkedIn has a found a sneaky way to fight “endorsement stockpiling.” You may have 99 endorsements for strategy, but LinkedIn may only show the 13 of them that LinkedIn thinks are relevant to that viewer.

2) LinkedIn will use algos to find close connections who can validate your skills.

In their October 26 announcement, LinkedIn says they they will “improve targeting for suggesting endorsements so that the connections who know your work best can validate your skills.”

Previously, LinkedIn suggested people to endorse in a seemingly random manner with a generic “what does Fred know about <skill>” type message. It now appears LinkedIn is going to look for people you are close to, and suggest you endorse those people for their skills.  

In theory, this makes sense, as I am more likely to endorse someone I actually do know really well versus one of my more speculative connections.

On the other hand, LinkedIn may figure out “connections who know your work best” by using something like the Connection Strength Score, which has not been very helpful for Notifications.

3) There is a definite link between skills / endorsements and LinkedIn search results.

While this has been implied in the past, this is the first concrete proof I have seen  that Skills are taken into consideration in search results. As LinkedIn says in the announcement, “Endorsements help ensure you are more likely to be discovered through search.”

Note that “more likely to be discovered” means you will be included in the search results. It does not necessarily mean you will rank near the top in the search results.

4) LinkedIn will now suggest skills you should add “based on your profile”

This may be based on seeing you use a keyword like “Strategy” in your Summary and then suggesting you list “Strategy” as a skill. Or this may just be a sneaky way for LinkedIn to advertise LinkedIn Learning courses which would teach you that skill you should add.

5) Endorsements are still used primarily by recruiters and HR people

This come through in the wording in LinkedIn’s announcements – things like “more than a third of hiring managers spend more than 60 seconds browsing your skills and endorsements” – you can see that Endorsements are still thought of by LinkedIn as a tool for hiring.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t use them for our own purposes. In particular, I have found that Skills and Endorsements are a great place for STEM people to list things like programming languages and technologies they are conversant with.

So what does this all mean? It looks like Skills and Endorsements are here to stay. I think if LinkedIn really was interested in helping us users, they would be putting the same effort into Recommendations. But while Skills and Endorsements help LinkedIn users somewhat, they sure seem to help LinkedIn more, providing “hooks” for Sales Navigator and Recruiting people to use, and possibly helping to sell Learning courses.  

Of course, the actual appearance of all this new Skills and Endorsements  functionality is dependent upon the new desktop user interface rollout, which at present, doesn’t seem to be rolling very quickly.

 

Why Asking Your Connections For Help Often Doesn’t End Well On LinkedIn

About once a month someone will ask me for help because they are sending a message like this one to all of their connections and getting no response:  

Subject / headline:  Looking for your assistance

My new (insert one of: product/service/revolutionary device) is almost ready. Do you have any connections who are CEO’s of small companies who could use my product? If so, I would really appreciate it if you introduce me to them.

Thanks!

So why is this approach is doomed to failure?

1) The headline alone dooms it to failure. In a world that seems based on “what’s in it for me?”, a headline that says this is all about you is a non-starter.

2) You are perceived as asking your connection to do all the work for you. Many recipients of this message will translate it as “please go and do my prospecting for me, and then qualify those prospects, and then bring them to me.” This doesn’t sound like a favor, this sounds like you want them to do your job for you.

3) It looks generic. If your message isn’t personalized, it looks like what it probably is: a cattle call you sent to a lot of people. Half the people receiving this message will be insulted to receive a generic message and not respond. The other half will  figure it was sent to a lot of people, assume that someone else will help you…and not respond.

4) It’s too open ended.  How many prospects does he want? Is two okay? How about five? He doesn’t want ten does he? Fifteen? Good heavens, he isn’t expecting me to find fifteen prospects for him is he? I don’t have the time to find fifteen prospects, forget it.  

Is such as approach ever appropriate? Sure. When you have scads of credibility with the other person, they know and like you, and unquestionably would want to help you. (hint: start with your mom and expand from there. It won’t be a big crowd)

The other time this approach is appropriate is if you are already a LinkedIn Influencer, have thousands and thousands of followers and can depend on LinkedIn to promote your post and get it in front of thousands of people. Unfortunately, the last time I looked, you and I weren’t part of the LinkedIn Influencer Pulse-opoly.  

It all boils down to being not specific enough: you should be asking a specific connection for help with a specific company or person.  This translates as “I am coming to you because I think you are the only person with the unique knowledge of this company (or person) that can help me.”  

There is nothing wrong with asking your network for help. Just don’t ask your network, ask the individual people in your network one at a time, and ask them for specific help with a specific person or company.  

 

Improve Your LinkedIn Use By Leaving One Bad Habit Behind In 2017

Here’s a New Year’s resolution that will make you more effective: Find one bad LinkedIn habit and kill it to start the new year.

Think of all the things you regularly do on LinkedIn. Maybe you check for messages, check your notifications, visit some LinkedIn groups, read some posts in your homepage feed, and like or comment on a couple of those posts.

For each of those things ask yourself what tangible benefits you derive from doing this activity. I am guessing at least one of the items on your list is going to make for some rather uncomfortable rationalizations.

Here’s an example I recognized of my own from a couple of years ago: I would spend around fifteen minutes seeing what was new in my Linkedin groups each week. This continued until I realized that I wasn’t getting anything tangible out of that time. I wan’t meeting new people, I had problems finding interesting conversations, and groups just didn’t seem to work for me. They may work beautifully for many people, but they just weren’t working for me. So unless someone asked me to get involved in a  discussion, I quit going to my LinkedIn groups. I was spending fifteen minutes a week – which added up to a day and half of my time over twelve months – and that day and a half was just spent wandering around. Quitting my LinkedIn group time got me that time back to use more productively elsewhere.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, maybe it’s time to move on to something else, or even nothing else. Your most precious resource is your time. Don’t waste it on LinkedIn activities that aren’t getting you anywhere. For any activity on LinkedIn, you should know the exact role it plays for you, and what you expect to get from it.

There’s a fine line that separates investing from spending.

What Do The User Interface Changes Mean To Free LinkedIn Users?

An optimist will see salvageable boats, a pessimist…

I had figured to hold off on writing about the new LinkedIn desktop user interface until it is more generally available. Plus, I don’t have it yet myself. But I am receiving an increasing number of messages about the pending / ongoing changes to the LinkedIn desktop user interface. These messages range in angst level from mildly curious to “hair on fire.”  

So consider this an interim report.

There is a lot that is unknown, but here is what I can tell you, and what you can do about it.  

While I don’t have the new user interface, I have seen glimpses from early adopters, and done a lot of research online.  While nothing is final, some themes are emerging:

  • There are a lot of odd things missing from the new desktop interface that shouldn’t be missing. Many of these are probably bus type omissions and will be restored in one way or another. I wouldn’t consider anything we get in the next few weeks as “final.” This is a huge undertaking, much bigger than the publishing or messaging updates in the last year or so.  
  • The homepage will look different, as will your profile. There seems to be a mix of added features, changes to existing features, and features dropped altogether.
  • The biggest change, and the one getting the most attention, is that any serious  search ability will be disappearing from “free” LinkedIn. The assumption is that this will force users to upgrade to Sales Navigator.
  • The Business Plus premium subscription seems to be in the process of being morphed into some kind of job seeker product. Business Premium is adding LinkedIn Learning (nee Lynda.com), but losing advanced search capability. InMail remains, along with some other features that would appeal to people looking for jobs.  

We have seen functionality go away before, so features disappearing shouldn’t come as a surprise. Usually they were features that a small number of LinkedIn users were really passionate about, or features that weren’t adopted by users on a scale to make their continued maintenance by LinkedIn worthwhile.  However, losing Advanced Search tools in the free version of LinkedIn is a big deal. Lots of people use the Advanced Search tools. But when Microsoft bought LinkedIn six months ago, one of the things they mentioned was they felt they could “accelerate monetization through individual and organization subscriptions.”  So we have known for six months that something was coming. Now we know what it is.

So what should you do? Upgrade to Sales Navigator?

Well the first you should do is separate the emotional part. The emotional part is “I got all this stuff for free and now I have to pay for it.” If you use Salesforce for business, you have to pay for it. If you use a mobile phone,  you have to pay for it. You use LinkedIn for business. What were you expecting? Sorry folks, get over it. Be thankful you got it for free for so long. Put your anger aside and deal with the situation as it is now.  

Now that emotion is out of the way, make a business decision. If Sales Navigator is going to cost you 800 bucks for a year (or whatever it will end up costing), is it going to help you land enough deals to pay for itself?

Can you use Sales Navigator’s Advanced Search to find more prospects?

Can you use the “lead” feature to track more prospects?

Can you use InMail to reach more of the prospects you find?

If the answer is yes, great. Go for it. If no, great, free looks like it still will be good for LinkedIn groups, your profile as a reference check, Pulse, writing, sharing and commenting, and company pages.

If you are unsure, take advantage of any one month (or more) free offers from LinkedIn, or sign up for a pay as you go each month plan and try it for a couple of months. LinkedIn seems to be one of the few places where you can still try a premium subscription with no long term obligation. Take advantage of it while it’s still there.

As most people who know me are aware, I find LinkedIn’s search tools to be downright awesome. I am not as big a fan of the “designate someone as a lead and follow them” feature, because if I find someone I want to approach, I don’t follow them for two months, I approach them now.  InMail has a bad rep, but mostly because so many LinkedIn users have no clue how to use it correctly. InMail works if you know how to work InMail.  So while I am indifferent to the leads feature, the search filters and InMail make Sales Navigator a good investment for me.