A Reminder To See LinkedIn As It Is, Not Like You Wish It Was

Never forget that LinkedIn is first and foremost a database. A database of somewhere around 550 million people.

I call it a database because the majority of LinkedIn users rarely use it. The last public results from LinkedIn said 22% of users logged on at least once a month. That was eighteen months ago, and I have seen nothing in the intervening time that persuades me that that percentage has gotten much bigger.

If the 22% figure still holds, that is around 115 million people accessing LinkedIn at least once a month. How many people are showing up two or more times a week? Half that? 60 million?

I have seen wild claims that there is a much higher active component on LinkedIn, including one claim (in January) that LinkedIn now had 500 million daily users. If “daily user” means “did not close their account today”, then I suppose that’s true, but otherwise, no.

I don’t believe these claims of increased usage for two reasons. The first is, they don’t pass the smell test. In order for me to believe that LinkedIn now has, say, 120 million daily users, the first thing I need to ask myself is, “what has changed in eighteen months that makes LinkedIn at least twice as attractive for users?” Answer: not much. Lots of good incremental feature and usability improvements, but twice as good? No way.

The second reason is if daily use had doubled – or tripled or quadrupled – I really think that LinkedIn and Microsoft would have mentioned it somewhere. Most companies don’t radically improve what is arguably one of the most important metrics they have and keep quiet about it.

The upshot here is that embedded within that big 500+ million person database is a tiny active social network. Well, sixty or so million people isn’t tiny, but compared to Twitter, or Facebook it is.

Where am I going with all this? Simple. LinkedIn is an unmatched resource for searching for people, and it’s an unmatched resource for doing research on companies, the people that work at those companies and their relationships. It is not as good for reaching out and contacting those people you find, because there is a big difference between “member” and “uses LinkedIn a couple of time a week or more.”

See LinkedIn as it is, not like you would like it to be, and you will use LinkedIn more effectively.

Where Your LinkedIn Profile Viewers Come From – You Might Be Surprised

Interesting insights can be found in the oddest places on LinkedIn

Who Viewed Your Profile remains one of the favorite features on LinkedIn. Yet did you ever stop to check out how these people came to view your profile in the first place? I did and was surprised at what I found.

I have a premium LinkedIn account, an old grandfathered (ie: relatively cheap) Sales Navigator subscription. I look at who viewed my profile every day. People who view your profile are potential connections. Potential customers. Potential suppliers. Potential partners. Potential employers. If there is someone interesting in there that I don’t know or haven’t contacted under another pretext, I will do so.

LinkedIn provides some statistics in my Who Viewed Your Profile screen. A slider across the top of the page shows companies that my viewers come from, and the most common titles they have, along with how they found you on LinkedIn.

From day to day these results don’t change much. If I had more viewers from Accenture than anywhere else between Nov 1 and Jan 29, sliding that 90 day window one day to Nov 2 to Jan 30 isn’t going to change that much. But the other day I noticed that that the last entry, the “how they found you” one had changed…and indeed changed almost every day. So I started tracking it to see what it said about people finding me.

LinkedIn says the “how they found me” feature is available on free LinkedIn as well.

Here’s a screen capture:

Over the course of a couple of weeks, a bunch of different ways people had found me showed up. LinkedIn informed me that my profile viewers were finding me via:

Homepage 47% (of all my profile viewers)

Messaging 5%

My network 3%

LinkedIn search 2%

People similar to you 1%

Company pages less than 1%

(These percentages add up to less than 60%, as LinkedIn admits that they can’t figure out where some people are coming from.)

So what do these statistics tell me? Two things.

Appearing in lots of LinkedIn Search Results doesn’t mean very much

In a recent 90 day period, only 16 people who looked at my profile came there via LinkedIn Search. That’s just over one a week.

But in the separate “Search Appearances” feature on my profile, LinkedIn tells me that I am appearing in hundreds of search results every week. Here is what LinkedIn told me for last week.

So I may be in the search results in hundreds of searches every week, but almost none of those searchers are actually coming to look at my profile.

So appearing in search results doesn’t lead to many profile views. What does?

Activity on LinkedIn leads to profile views. Lots of profile views

A lot of people see me on their homepage and then go look at my profile. In the screen cap at the beginning of this article 373 people found me coming from their homepage versus the 16 that found me via search.

My home page drives 23 times more people to my profile than LinkedIn search (47% of all profile views versus…2%).

Publishing, sharing, commenting, liking or getting mentioned results in profile views. Many many more profile views than people finding me via search.

When I looked at those people who had found me through their homepage, I found 70% of them were second and third degree connections. People I don’t know are finding me on LinkedIn because I am active on LinkedIn. They are not finding me through LinkedIn search, they are finding me because of my activity on LinkedIn.

I suggest you go check out your own “People found you via” statistics and see what they say about you.

6 Sales Navigator Features That Aren’t Ready For Prime Time (Yet)

Last week I wrote about the 9 Sales Navigator Features that I like, and that make Sales Navigator a worthy investment for me. This week, the features and quirks that I wish LinkedIn would either optimize or euthanize.

The Social Selling Index

The Social Selling Index measures the amount of different types of activity you engage in on LinkedIn. LinkedIn decides what’s important. My take is that just  because you can do twenty things on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you should be doing all twenty and weighting them equally.

Saving people as leads

Being able to save people as leads in order to follow their posts and articles is a really good idea. With Sales Navigator you can save hundreds of people and companies as leads. But trying to use Sales Navigator to follow the activity of a large number of people is hopeless. You can only sort your Sales Nav homepage feed like you can on free LinkedIn – by “recent” activity or “most important” activity. Guess who decides what’s important? LinkedIn, not you.

Saving people as leads is a great idea. Call me when LinkedIn figures out the execution.

What gets shown in Search results

This is an odd one and maybe I am splitting hairs here, but when Sales Navigator shows you search results, for each person you see:

Name

Company

Current Position

Years in current position

Location.

Meanwhile, the same person shows up in a free LinkedIn search as:

Name

Company

Current position

Profile headline

Location.

The difference being Sales Navigator shows me how long the person has been in their current position, while free LinkedIn shows me their headline. Personally, I get more info from a headline than from time in current position.

Sales leads suggested for you

In the Sales Navigator account setup, you can specify your preferences for sales leads, that is people in certain industries, locations, company sizes and job functions. Sales Navigator will then “suggest” people as leads that meet these criteria. But I think this is way too broad. To be practical I think it needs keywords too. I have yet to have someone suggested that I would want to follow up with.

Separate message inboxes for Free LinkedIn and Sales Navigator

You have a message inbox in free LinkedIn and a message inbox in Sales Navigator. The integration of the two consists of a little red flag in your free LinkedIn message inbox which (very inconsistently) indicates if you still have messages waiting in Sales Nav. This leaves you with having two different inboxes where you can never remember which one had the conversation in it that you need to refer back to. What would you think if your company gave you two separate email inboxes, each of which would have some of your conversations for each person you traded emails with ?

This…is…infuriating.

Sales Navigator doesn’t show some activity

I have seen many instances where a profile in Sales Navigator will show no activity for someone, yet that same profile in free LinkedIn has posts and comments and likes associated with it. I pay for Sales Navigator, yet the activity information displayed on free LinkedIn is more complete. Why?

So that’s the downside. But I hold faith that LinkedIn will eventually fix those last five features. When Sales Navigator first came out, it looked like LinkedIn just took the human resources product, slapped a new coat of paint on it and called it Sales Navigator. A money grab.  Now my opinion is that while Sales Navigator is missing some opportunities and still doesn’t integrate as well with free LinkedIn as I would like, if you are a sales professional it can definitely pay for itself.

With all that I have said and written in these two articles, I trust I have given some of you considering Sales Navigator some ideas to think about. And for those of you that already use Sales Navigator, something to argue about (I can see the Social Selling Index crowd massing at the gates with torches and pitchforks already).

If you are considering Sales Navigator, just use this litmus test: if you can name the specific Sales Navigator feature or features that you feel will make a difference in your work performance, then giving it a try is worthwhile. Sign up for a month or two and try it. But if you are just kind of vaguely wondering if Sales Navigator would help you, you are not there yet. Save your money.