Things are continuing to change at a pace with LinkedIn, most functionality updates are positive things - the new company profile and follow features are excellent as well as the new 'people who have viewed my profile' analysis but last week LinkedIn made a key change to what you can see when searching LinkedIn - this change appears to have no benefits to the user whatsoever and could actually have a negative impact on how useful LinkedIn is! When searching LinkedIn we previously had full visibility of the following users;
1st tier connections - 2nd tier connections - 3rd tier connections - shared group members
The recent changes have now restricted full name visibility to 1st and 2nd tier connections. From now we can only see the first name and surname initial of 3rd tier and group members unless we are prepared to upgrade our account to an 'Executive' account at £63 per month.
The first result here is a 3rd tier connection followed by 2 out of network results. As you can see above the information is better than you will see for users outside of your network (4th tier +), when you click through the profile is still fully visible but the lack of a surname is a frustration.
The results are the same for shared group users as below;
I can see only 1 beneficiary of these changes - LinkedIn! To be fair they are a commercial organisation and I can't blame them for finding ways of increasing revenue but they do need to be careful that changes of this nature don't start to turn off users - the main thing they really need to be commercially successful!
I am also concerned that this change makes users slightly less visible which could hurt those that are most in need of visibility - job seekers. It may also encourage people to start to connect more widely in order to increase the size of their 1st and 2nd tier connections and this is surely something LinkedIn wish to avoid.
All is not lost folks, there is a quick an easy way to ensure that your full name is visible to group members and 3rd tier connections (always the largest number of users in your network). Simply add your full name into your headline as below;
Lets face it, the majority of users are not going to pay £63 a month just for surnames so I strongly suggest everyone changes their headline in this way to ensure they are still fully visible.
To do this go to >profile>edit my profile>click on the edit link next to your name>headline.
Lets hope this is not a start of a trend to make it harder to use LinkedIn as a free user, I don't believe it will be - this is a small change aimed at recruiters to entice them to start paying for a service which is proving to be a valuable and profitable tool.