Following my last blog I have received a flood of responses - some clarifying the changes, others clearly confused and frustrated by them. One response was from LinkedIn and they have provided me with a much clearer picture as follows;
This one is fairly simple and was also highlighted by several others yesterday. The good news is that you can still send a free message to users who you share a group with, its just done a different way now.
Group messages can now only be sent from within the group. Simply go to the list of members and when you highlight an individual you will see a 'send message link' on the right (see below)
The reason this change has been made is that group messaging was always intended as a private message between group members within the group and not as a way of sending messages to people that are found in search results (i.e. searches performed by Recruiters).
So it can still be done, its just not as easy as it was.
Restrictions to Invitations
This one has been causing the most confusion so hopefully this will help to clear things up. The good news is that there are no restrictions on invitations - you can still invite anyone! This is the case for everyone, whether they pay for LinkedIn or not.
The change has been in how you find those you wish to invite. Invitations can still be made to anyone - 3rd tier or even outside of your network but only if you know their name. You can no longer invite any users you find through a keyword search result.
The following is a user I have found through a keyword search;
As can be seen I cannot invite her to connect but if I knew her name I would be able to send her an invitation as below;
This is why it appears that you cannot invite 3rd tier or anyone beyond your network because we are not given their names in a search result.
This is obviously in line with LinkedIn's policy of only connecting with those who you already know, they are OK with 2nd tier as the view is that you know them through your first tier so you are more closely connected.
This may not be great news for recruiters although I am sure many know that there are ways around getting 3rd tier surnames anyway. The important thing is that you can still invite someone that you have met, or spoken to even if they are 3rd tier plus.
It did seem rather odd that you could meet someone, agree to connect and then not be able to invite them!
I am really grateful to LinkedIn for clarifying the situation. I am informed that they are working hard to improve the communication of such changes in the future and in the meantime I am pleased that I have a new contact who I can call upon the next time something like this happens!