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.