LinkedIn Charges Job Seekers!

I'm annoyed. Premium accounts are OK in principle, if you want to pay to use LinkedIn for business purposes then you can make an investment decision. Will you make more money if you pay for a premium account? If not then don't buy it.

I do however have an issue with LinkedIn showing vacancy ads to job seekers and then expecting them to upgrade their account in order to see the most important piece of information - what salary the job pays!

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Not happy with already charging the company to place the ad in the first place, they now want to make extra money by charging the applicant as well!

OK so job seeker upgrades are not the most expensive but its the principle of charging both the advertiser and the applicant that gets me annoyed.

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I have advertised vacancies more times than I care to remember in the past and one thing is clear - If you don't put a salary in the ad' - the response will be poor, so I can't imagine the advertisers being too happy about this move either.

This incidentally comes from a company who expect to generate a turnover in the region of $1.5 billion and profits of $364 million this year......it just seems an unnecessary strategy to me that will lose them far more friends than it will make them extra dollars in profit.

Rant over!

What do you think?

LinkedIn Intro - Security Concerns

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Following on from my last blog introducing this new app, it would appear that various security concerns have been raised so I thought I would share my thoughts on this matter.

In my opinion the internet is full scaremongers and security obsessed people who seem to be able to find fault with just about every new idea/product/advancement. I happen to know that Matt Alder is not one of them so when Matt raised security concerns in the comments of my last blog, I took it very seriously.

Matt's concerns were based on an excellent article by a very credible organisation called Bishop Fox which I strongly suggest you read.

Unusually for LinkedIn they responded to this article by issuing a statement on their blog which I also strongly suggest you read. This is very unusual for LinkedIn, in my experience they tend to keep quiet about negative comments from others regarding LinkedIn - unless they feel very strongly about it.

I must admit that some of the language they both use is 'over my head' but my thoughts on the issue are as follows;

  • I am not too concerned about email going through LinkedIn's servers, I am using Gmail after all which is clearly going through Google's servers so why should I trust LinkedIn any less than Google?
  • To use Intro you actually create a new Mail account within the mail app, this can easily be switched off. There appears to be no other reconfiguring of my iPhone going on but maybe this is hidden from me.
  • I did have to give LinkedIn my pin to set up Intro, I'm really not sure why this was necessary and that does cause me some concern but LinkedIn strongly refute the allegation that they change the iPhone's security preferences.
  • Bishop Fox are internet security consultants. It is in their commercial interests to write about such issues.
  • LinkedIn would benefit from collecting data about us - such as who we are communicating with via email.

I have therefore decided to continue using LinkedIn Intro (which is after all, very useful!) but only on a limited basis as follows;

  • The new Intro account is kept live in the Mail app on my iPhone but I do not use it actively and never send any emails from this account.
  • My primary app for email is the excellent Mailbox app which I have been using for some time because it has better features than the native Mail app in my opinion.
  • When I receive an email from an unknown source I simply switch over to the LinkedIn Intro account on the Mail app and check the very useful profile information of the sender.

I know its not exactly how you are supposed to use LinkedIn Intro but given all the issues, it feels safer to use it purely as a reference aid rather then as my main Mail app.

I am not suggesting you do the same, my only advice is to make sure you read both articles and make up your own mind.

Introducing LinkedIn Intro!

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LinkedIn have announced a brand new line up of mobile apps and for the first time ever, they are worth getting excited about!

I will be reviewing the excellent new iPad app soon, this piece however is focussed on their brand new LinkedIn Intro app for the iPhone.

Firstly let me apologise to all of you who are Android or Windows mobile users (or anything else). This product is currently focussed on iOS only and because it is built into the Mail app, I am not sure when or if it will be available on other platforms - LinkedIn didn't mention anything about this in their presentation.

Apparently the average professional spends 28% of their day dealing with email, this seems an astonishing fact at first but when you think about it you might find you can relate to it....to be honest I'm probably spending more than that in my email! Another fascinating fact revealed by LinkedIn was that more than 50% of emails are read on a mobile device these days and that number is increasing.

LinkedIn are increasingly focussed on mobile so it made sense to introduce an app that links your LinkedIn account to your email account.

In 2012 They acquired a business called Rapportive which is a Gmail plugin that shows you the latest social network updates from whoever you’re corresponding with. I have been using Rapportive for 18 months or so and found it very useful when dealing with emails at my desk but like most people I am increasing managing email on my phone so I have found I am using Rapportive less and less.....Enter LinkedIn Intro.

Intro is integrated into your Mail so that instead of an email looking like this;

normal mail

It now looks like this;

intro email

The key difference as you can see is that the LinkedIn profile of the sender is now embedded into the email itself.

If you are not connected to this person there is a link (see arrow below) which gives you the option to connect. DON'T CLICK here! As with all mobile apps, LinkedIn just send the recipient the basic and unfriendly "I'd like to add you to my professional network message" which is poor practice.

intro mail red

However when you click on the profile link you get to see more information from that individual's profile (see below). How cool is that?

intro email info

It's not just clever and cool, it's really useful. How often do we receive emails from people who we don't really know? This way we can check out more information about them which allows us to respond more effectively.

Of course this also has an effect on the sender in that it yet again proves just how important your LinkedIn profile is. If you need help with that click here.

I had forgotten how much I missed using Rapportive until I started using Intro today, its fantastic!

Unfortunately it's not perfect, I have noticed some emails have an intro link that is so small you can't really read it! See example below;

intro email small

This above screenshot is larger than it appears on the phone and even then its difficult to read! I can only assume this is something to do with the format of the email and may be fixed in future updates, lets hope so.

So if you have an iPhone, open your browser of choice (Safari perhaps) and go to intro.linkedin.com, follow the installation instructions and once you have had a play, let me know what you think.

Invitation Frustration

Firstly I must apologise for the lack of posts recently, I am currently busy writing a book (watch this space) which has been exhausting my writing energy quota. Poor excuse I know but there you have it!

Inviting someone to connect.

Here is the dilemma;

You want to connect with someone on LinkedIn so you click on the "connect" link on their profile, before personalising the message (which everyone should always do) you are required to state how you know someone (see below)

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The problem is that they are not a colleague or someone you played tick (you might have called it tag!) with at school, they are not someone you have done business with nor are they a friend. You do not have their email address (which is required for "other") and you do not share any groups with this person so it seems that your only remaining option is "I don't know X" which is also not true as you have spoken to them or met them briefly. So what do you do?

Some people decide to lie and opt for one of the first four options.

Some people decide that a less dishonourable lie is to opt for the last one. When they click on "I don't know" they are confronted with the following abrupt and somewhat annoying message;

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I won't get into why LinkedIn insist on this ridiculous idea of only connecting with people you already know, that's a different subject but it seems very odd that for people who are not friends, colleagues, classmates or customers/suppliers but who have met (at a networking event for instance) there is no suitable reason to pick.

There are various solutions that avoid having to go through this process as follows;

  1. Invite via a mobile app
  2. Click on the "connect" link in the "people you may know" section

The problem with both these options is that they do not allow you to send a personalised message, the recipient will get the lazy message "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" which most people agree is worse than saying you are a friend (when you're not)!

So what can we do?

Enter LinkedIn Contacts, LinkedIn's newest and best ever feature which saves the day!

Here is how its done;

Step 1

Go to Network and then click on Contacts

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If you haven't already done so, click on the yellow 'get started' link to launch LinkedIn Contacts

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Wait for Contacts to 'do its thing' and magically transform your LinkedIn account to a free, live CRM (Contact Relationship Management) programme.

Step 2

Go to the profile of the person you wish to connect with and save them to contacts by clicking on the star symbol on the left of their profile (see below)

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*UPDATE*

Since publishing it appears that some profiles are no longer showing this star, if this is the case you can 'save to contacts' by hovering over the triangle next to 'Send InMail" and save from there (see below)

save to conatcts 2

 

Now click on "Tag" and then "add new tag".

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You will only need to add a new tag once, from this point onwards you can use the tag you have created. In the box type in an appropriate name i.e. "connect" or something similar, then click save.

Step 3

You will now see the new tag showing on the profile (see below), click on this and you will be taken into LinkedIn Contacts and a list of everyone who you have assigned this tag to (if you remember to delete the tag after sending an invitation then this list will only be the one profile).

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Step 4

Once in the list of contacts you can see (once you hover over the contact) a link to connect. Click on this and you will be able to personalise the invitation, without the need to state a reason.

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The best of both worlds!

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If you want to be tidy you can now go back to the contact and delete the "connect" tag (this can done in LinkedIn Contacts).

So there you have it. A bit long-winded? Maybe but I think it is a good discipline to tag everyone you are interested in any way. You can create up to 200 of your very own tags i.e. "prospect" or "potential employer" etc.

I hope that is of help to you.

10 Mistakes that drive other LinkedIn Users mad!

Frustrated1. Inviting a complete stranger to connect.

Whilst I'm not a fan of LinkedIn's mantra "only connect with people you know well" it is even worse to invite people with whom you have had no contact. This is the equivalent of going to a networking event and walking around the room shoving your business cards into people's hands without even saying hello or introducing who you are! The key to successfully growing a network is to always engage in some manner before connecting.

2. Failing to personalise an invitation to connect.

There is nothing worse than receiving an invitation to connect (even from someone you know) that reads "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn". Everyone knows that this is the default message and therefore the person sending it has not bothered to give it any thought or consideration. A personalised message takes literally seconds to write and to not do so is just plain lazy!

3. Profile picture.

It is shocking to see how many people use inappropriate photographs for what is a professional networking site. Your picture is effectively your personal brand logo and is a critical part of your LinkedIn profile, It is almost certainly the first thing people notice and therefore creates that all-important first impression. Your photo should be an up-to-date close-up headshot, period. We do not need to see your partner, kids, pets or a slice of the face of the person next to you who you have attempted to crop out! Do not wear a hat or sunglasses and make sure the quality is clear. Avoid using ridiculous avatars or cartoons, they lack credibility and LinkedIn may suspend your account as this breaches the user agreement . The worst mistake of all however is to not have a profile picture at all, this will result in less profile views and more importantly it significantly damages your authenticity.

4. Anonymous visibility.

This is one privacy setting that everyone should change from the default. You can either be fully visible, largely anonymous (the default setting) or completely anonymous. The default setting makes no sense because you either want people to see that you have viewed their profile or you don't, tempting their curiosity with a loose description such as "someone in the X function of the Y industry" is pointless! Deciding to be completely anonymous is also a strange decision, this is a networking environment so choosing this setting is effectively the same as going to an off-line event wearing a hoodie and mask! I can accept that there may be a rare occasion where it is clearly commercially unwise to reveal that you have viewed someone's profile, in which case you can change your settings prior to viewing the profile and then change them back to fully visible again afterwards.

5. Direct selling.

Whilst it could be said that everyone is selling something on LinkedIn (even if it's just themselves for that next career move), that doesn't mean that this is a place to directly sell. There is nothing worse than accepting an invitation from somebody only to find that this is swiftly followed by numerous direct messages selling you the latest thing! This may be irritating for the recipient but it is far worse for the sender who is damaging their personal reputation as well as the company they work for and their chances of succeeding to sell anything this way are remote at best.

6. Inappropriate contact having not read somebody's profile.

This is similar to the above but may not involve selling as such, receiving a direct message informing me about something that is not relevant to what I do or where I am based merely proves that the sender is blindly sending this message to many people without having read their profiles. I often hear from users who are tired of constant approaches by recruiters so they amend their headline to state that they are not interested in job opportunities.....and it doesn't make the slightest difference, they still get as many approaches!

7. Lack of background information in profile.

We live in an information rich world and we expect to find it easy to gather information about people, places, products etc. When somebody views your profile they are doing so because they want to see more information about you (including your back story). So why would you deny them that opportunity by revealing little about yourself? LinkedIn is not a one way street, if you view somebody's profile they are likely to view yours and this presents a great opportunity for you to be open and authentic and show them that you are the kind of person that they would wish to do business with. The more you reveal about your background the more likely it is that they will see you have something in common and this can only work in your favour.

8. Inactivity.

This is one of the most common mistakes I come across. Many users sign up, create a basic profile and maybe join a group or two and then…… nothing! This is the equivalent to going to a networking event and sitting in the corner with a cup of tea and not speaking to anyone! LinkedIn is a live and active community of business professionals throughout the world and this presents you with such an exciting opportunity to widen your network, engage with more people and ultimately achieve greater success.

9. Posting links without comment (especially in groups)

This is usually an innocent mistake made by people with the best intentions. They read an article online and decide to share this with their connections and/or fellow group members, the problem is that an article without a comment just becomes noise in a stream that people tend to ignore and the more this happens the more people become disengaged. This can also be as a result of one of the worst things you can do with social media........ automation! Social media is supposed to be social (strangely enough!) and it is only effective when people talk to each other, not when automated processes fire countless streams of information/articles at people. The solution is very simple, read the article and take a view then post the article with a comment expressing your view and asking for feedback. This works, automation doesn't.

10. Dodgy Recommendations.

Many online businesses have learnt that customer reviews are an incredibly powerful marketing tool (Amazon, Tripadvisor etc) and LinkedIn provides you with a similar opportunity via recommendations. The problem is that people obtain recommendations from the wrong people. A recommendation will only influence the reader if it is written by somebody that they consider to be credible and credibility comes from you knowing the person well and by them being in a position of authority i.e. a satisfied customer, and ex-boss etc. Too many recommendations on LinkedIn are from colleagues, family members or worst of all, complete strangers! One dodgy recommendation can ruin a profile, so be careful to only seek testimonials from the right people.

What other LinkedIn behaviours drive you mad?  please feel free to comment below.

You Probably Already Know This.......

feedly....but just in case you have missed it. Google Reader is no more as from July 1st

If you are subscribing to this blog via Google Reader then you will no longer receive posts as from Monday.....so you need to act NOW

I have swapped over from Google Reader to Feedly which is free, looks great and has iPad and iPhone apps. Making the change to Feedly was really simple, I just created my account and entered my Google username and password...that was it! No more effort required, swap done...move on!

There are plenty of other alternatives to Feedly which you can easily find with a quick Google search.

The Great LinkedIn SWAM!

LinkedIn groups and other online forums are full of it, LinkedIn users are outraged and LinkedIn Group Managers are tearing their hair out....so what is all the fuss about this new thing called SWAM? Image For those of you who haven't come across it yet, SWAM stands for 'Site Wide Auto Moderation' a relatively new LinkedIn feature designed to block spammers from LinkedIn groups. Here is how it works; A member of a group behaves in such a way that the manager of that group decides to 'block & delete' them from their group. This decision is purely made by the manager/owner of that group and LinkedIn are not involved in any way. The result of this action is that the blocked individual is automatically moderated in every other group of which they are a member (up to 49). Moderated simply means that every post (creation of discussion, comment, promotion or job post) has to be approved by the manager of the group before it is published. LinkedIn brought in this function to help group managers deal with the ever-increasing amount of spammers infiltrating their groups. The idea was that a group manager would only delete and block someone they believed to be a genuine spammer and this would therefore be doing a favour to every other group manager who had been unfortunate enough to have attracted the said individual as a member. I think LinkedIn genuinely thought this would be widely welcomed by everyone (except those nasty spammers) but it has caused a massive outcry from just about everyone. The problem is that this decision is based on the following assumptions;

  1. All group managers are responsible, credible members of the LinkedIn community.
  2. The definition of spam is uniform.

Clearly these assumptions are completely wrong and this has been the route of the problem. I have heard countless examples of professional, credible individuals who have never even considered spamming anyone getting hit by SWAM. This could be for a variety of reasons;

  • They have had a disagreement with the manager of a group
  • They have had a public 'falling out' with another member of a group (groups are after all debating forums)
  • The manager of a group blocked & deleted them by accident
  • The manager of a group is a competitor
  • The manager had a bad day and decided to 'cull' some members to make themselves feel better!!

Quite often the reason someone gets banned from a group is because they continually post links to articles, this is very annoying for most group managers who have set up their group to be a discussion forum and links without commentary to stimulate debate just clog up the discussion timeline and are considered spam by many managers. This problem however has largely been created by LinkedIn themselves with their 'Share on LinkedIn' buttons that appear in most internet articles, these buttons allow the reader to 'share' the article to multiple groups and this is often the cause of the problem. Innocent group members are suddenly finding they are effectively subject to some gagging order in all of their groups, if they are a member of many groups it can even take them some time to figure out which group they have been deleted from!

To make the situation worse, it is not easy to get yourself 'de-SWAMed' LinkedIn customer services want nothing to do with it and advise contacting every group manager individually and 'pleading your case' to get the moderation lifted. The problem is that the group manager may well believe that there is 'no smoke without fire' and decide to ignore your appeal (this seems to be the most common response).

Interestingly some of the most vocal opponents of SWAM are the group managers themselves! The result of SWAM to decent, credible group managers is an increased workload (significant increases in moderation) and more hassle from disgruntled members asking them to lift their moderation status.

It seems that no-one is happy.

So what do LinkedIn have to say about it? .........Nothing! So far there has been a wall of silence from LinkedIn on this matter, despite the deafening volume of protest.

So come on LinkedIn, its time to eat some humble pie and accept this was a well-meaning but ill-judged action. Nobody is suggesting we should just accept spam and everyone wants to find a solution but SWAM is clearly a very blunt edged sword that is doing far more harm than good. In the meantime I would suggest everyone is extra careful with their behaviour in groups....oh and steer well clear of groups managed by your competitors!

Have your Recruiters hijacked your Company Page?

hijacking-hot-spot It’s probably fair to say that up to 2008 LinkedIn was primarily about recruitment. Since then this unique business to business networking platform has developed into a far more holistic site offering its members a vast range of functionality to enable them and their employers to be more productive and successful. LinkedIn Company Pages have evolved in a similar way. Initially the only practical use of a company page was to advertise vacancies and showcase a great workplace in order to attract ‘followers’ who may one day want to work for you (in effect a talent pool).

In the last few years LinkedIn have added functionality more associated with promoting the company to prospective customers and facilitating engagement with current customers.

The problem is that many organisations haven't kept pace with these changes and their company page is still managed by their recruiting teams rather than their marketing function.

Can you imagine a situation where a Recruiting/HR department was given control of your website? That would be crazy!

The responsibility for the company brand and communication to the wider world must be the remit of the marketing function.

The Company Profile below is a major blue chip B2B and B2C organisation and it is not an isolated example. In my experience the bigger the company, the more likely they are to be stuck in the ‘LinkedIn is just about recruitment’ bubble and I believe this is damaging their brand.

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If you can find your customers and prospects on LinkedIn then you need to take a look at your company page and if it is currently controlled by your recruiting team then you need to politely ask for it back!

There is a lot you can do with a company page these days such as;

  • List all of your products and services
  • Show recommendations for products services from satisfied customers
  • Tailor the content different visitors see when they visit your products/services page
  • Build a list of relevant followers who you can engage with
  • Show eye-catching ‘on brand’ images on all pages
  • Embed Videos to showcase your products

To understand all of the above features and how to implement them correctly I have produced a video tutorial which you can get here

So come on marketers, get control of your page back. Each company profile has its own page for recruitment, so let your recruiters control that but make sure all the other pages are focussed on promoting the whole company and its products.

company page tutorial

LinkedInterview #9

Here is the next in our series of interviews with avid LinkedIn users, I hope you find it interesting and useful.

Introduction

James Taylor, I’m a Director at Macildowie Recruitment Expertise and I have been in this industry for 18 years.

James TaylorWhen I joined  Macildowie in 1997 we were purely a Financial recruiter, in 2001 we started an HR recruitment division because HR were getting more involved in recruitment and we knew we could leverage those relationships. In 2009 we started a Procurement & Supply Chain division and just this year we have launched a Sales & Marketing Recruitment division. As you can see we have continued to grow through these difficult times and I think LinkedIn has played a big part in this. We are Midlands based currently but are now in a position to expand geographically and we see 2013 as a very exciting year for us.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth?

November 5th 2007 (Bonfire night!). I was a major sceptic prior to this, I thought LinkedIn was just another excuse for my staff to avoid getting on the phone and doing some ‘real work’! I then looked into it and realised that you could map out the structure of organisations to ensure that these calls were more effective. That was just the starting point and got me intrigued and so I went on one of your courses where you introduced me to things like searching with boolean strings and it was really then that the penny dropped and I realised that, once you knew what you were doing, this was a really powerful tool.

Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………."

...The most up to date professional database in the world and therefore a sea of business opportunities! We have just invested in a new recruitment database system but it is only as good as the data entered into it and how well our consultants keep it up to date. LinkedIn however keeps itself up to date! 4-5 years ago people mainly used LinkedIn to get a job so they would only update their profile occasionally, these days professionals at all levels use it to maintain and develop their professional networks and as a result their profiles are kept up to date. The use of mobile apps has also made a big difference in this respect.

Once you know how to set up and save relevant searches on LinkedIn it becomes and invaluable market intelligence tool. Recruiters are in my opinion, information brokers and so the more relevant information we have, the more chance we have of being successful. This is just as important to finding new candidates as it is for generating leads.

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often?

First thing every morning when I am having my first coffee at 6.30am. My first login is almost always on the app on my phone.

How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone?

1544, I tend to invite the following people to connect;

• Employers (clients)

• Candidates

• Potential employees

I will normally email someone first before inviting them to connect. Clients and potential employees are the most difficult and sometimes this process takes several months but I would always aim to engage with them first before connecting,

Candidates are more straightforward.

With regards to invitations I receive, I tend to accept the vast majority of connection requests, the only exceptions would be obvious time wasters from overseas locations where we do not have any business interests plus some direct competitors.

Obviously this has some danger in that by connecting to clients and candidates there is some risk that they will find each other so I tend to leave it a month after working with them before connecting. That said, I have always taken the view that we are sufficiently confident in our quality and ability to manage the whole recruitment process that allowing candidates and clients to find each other is not really a threat.

In fact I go even further than that and have run workshops for my clients and candidates where I show them how to use LinkedIn, including how they can find candidates if they wish to! The reality is that there is far more to recruitment than just finding a random profile of an individual on LinkedIn who has put the right keywords in their profile and who appears to have relevant experience. By helping our clients in this way we are effectively showing them that we are offering them far more than just a searching service and this helps to win hearts and minds.

Recruitment is still about good old fashioned relationships and our focus on this that has been a major factor in our success and helping our clients (and candidates) to use LinkedIn more effectively is all part of developing those relationships.

What features of LinkedIn do you use most?

Advanced search is a fantastic facility for a recruiter.

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn?

We recently started a new division in Sales & Marketing as we see this is a big growth market. One of our first clients gave us a role with a very unique requirement. They were in the food industry and wanted to recruit someone who had been trained in one of the major supermarkets but had then shown some entrepreneurial flair by starting their own deli! As you can imagine this was a nightmare to source but LinkedIn came to the rescue!

I initially joined several food related groups, some food industry related and some were just for people who were into food! It was in one of these groups where I got my break. I simply posted a question in the group asking people if they had any advice or ideas on how I could find such a person (note this is a very different approach to most recruiters who would typically post a ‘I am looking for’ job advert). I got into dialogue with about 6 people who were all very helpful and this led to one of them giving me the name of someone who I subsequently approached about the job, I then went through a detailed evaluation of this individual and they turned out to be very suitable.

This was the only candidate the client interviewed (they understood there would not be many!) and they ended up recruiting him. Our fee was over £15,000!

The key to this was that LinkedIn gave me the opportunity to find this person in a new market to us where I did not have any long-standing relationships via a referral. By joining the right groups and engaging with those communities I found that they were able to help me. Social media works when you understand that it is a community environment, not a job board or a marketing tool but a place to meet and get to know people.

That is a one-off story but it is fair to say that LinkedIn has been the cornerstone of our growth over the last few years. Starting new divisions in markets where you don’t have established relationships has traditionally taken a long time but we have been able to successfully do this by using LinkedIn and quickly building new contacts and relationships in new markets. For example in our first year in procurement & supply chain about 75% of our revenue came directly from LinkedIn.

What new features would you like to see?

It's not really in my nature to think about how LinkedIn may develop in the future, I can only deal with what they give us now so what is the point? We have though developed our new website along the lines of being more social in a very unique way. You can check it out here

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020?

I would be very surprised if it isn’t but you can never say never. I would imagine that it would be very hard to compete with LinkedIn now as they have reached a critical mass and are so dominant.

Now that they are publicly owned they will need to keep growing and innovating as their shareholders will expect them to keep growing so its unlikely that they will get complacent.

A big thank-you to James for taking the time to do this interview, I have known James for sometime and wanted to interview him because I love the way he is prepared to spend time and effort running LinkedIn training sessions for his clients and candidates. It's a sign of confidence that he is prepared to do something which most recruiters would think is crazy! I know for a fact that this strategy has really paid off for him. I love his quote 'Social media works when you understand that it is a community environment, not a job board or a marketing tool but a place to meet and get to know people'...If only more recruiters could understand this!

If you feel you have an interesting story to tell regarding how you use LinkedIn then please feel free to get in touch at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com

The Inconvenient Truth About LinkedIn

Image Have you ever heard that saying regarding the internet

“If you don’t know what the product is… then it is probably you”?

This simply means that if you are using a productive and useful Internet site or app for free then you are probably paying for this with your information and data.

This is clearly true for Google and Facebook but is it true for LinkedIn?

This is a question that has been bugging me for a while. LinkedIn are a highly profitable organisation who make the vast majority of their revenue from corporate recruiting products (see here). So I have always assumed that their monetization strategy was somewhat different from Google & Facebook.

Maybe it was but now they are publicly quoted on the NYSE and have a responsibility to continually grow their profits, so perhaps the game has changed!

Being a big fan of LinkedIn I have probably been fairly slow on the uptake on this but just recently the penny dropped for me. Earlier this year something happened to LinkedIn that I could not explain. I have never really used the news feed function of LinkedIn called LinkedIn Today.

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I think it’s a great feature but I already have established ways of reading news and information so to me LinkedIn Today was unwanted ‘noise’ on my homepage. Previously there was an option that allowed you to switch the news feed off but this has now been withdrawn (much to my frustration!) and I couldn’t understand why.

Surely having an advanced feature to optionally switch the news feed off made sense? Most people wouldn’t use it either because they are not aware of its existence or because they want to see LinkedIn Today. So why would they remove it? The only reason that I could come up with is that LinkedIn have decided that it is important to know what we are reading. Why would they wish to know that? Perhaps this is the same thing as Google being interested in what we search for.... perhaps LinkedIn have a monetization strategy built around data collection. I then started to think of other features that we use that also give LinkedIn interesting data about us.

  • Following Thought Leaders. What does it say about us if we follow Richard Branson or Deepak Chopra?Image
  • Groups. By joining a group about leadership for example you are giving LinkedIn useful data.
  • Status Updates. Why did you ‘like’ an update and what does that say about you?
  • Background. Where you work, have previously worked and where you went to college and what you studied.
  • Who You Know. Perhaps this is why LinkedIn are so insistent that we only connect with people we know well?

....and the list goes on and on!

The fact is that pretty much everything you do on LinkedIn is potentially of interest to marketeers, maybe not in isolation but when you add them all together they become very interesting and most important to LinkedIn, worth paying good money for!

So should we be worried?

Well that is a personal question that only you can answer.

For me the answer is no, I think it's a pretty good trade-off to be honest. We get to use an amazing resource like LinkedIn for free, which when used correctly can help you grow your business and all you have to pay in return is your data....that sounds like a good deal to me.

Or am I being naive?

What do you think?

New Updated LinkedIn Profile Tutorial

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This is an update to my previous post 'How Important is your LinkedIn Profile?'

LinkedIn recently announced that they had reached over 200 million members, this coupled with the fact they have bypassed the 11 million mark in the UK reinforces the view that LinkedIn is now a pretty mainstream business tool in the UK.

It is for this reason that I believe your LinkedIn profile is more important than ever.

If you wish to grow an effective network, win more business or be spotted for that next exciting job opportunity then you need to ensure that your online presence is impressive and that you are creating the right first impression.

When someone looks for you online (directly on LinkedIn or even via Google), what do they make of you?

  • Can they see what you look like? (They won't remember you if they can't)
  • Is it clear from your headline exactly what you do and what you offer them?
  • Is it easy to make contact with you?
  • Can they see your full profile?
  • Do they know anyone that knows you?
  • Can they see impressive testimonials from people that are just like them?
  • Will they find you via keyword searching?

These questions and many more are answered in this online tutorial. Over two hours of screen video capture explaining every single section of your profile in great detail.

This tutorial has been updated to incorporate the new changes made by LinkedIn to profiles at the end of 2012.

Order your copy here

My 3 wishes for 2013

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It's that time of year when we look forward to the year ahead and make our resolutions and plan how we are going make them happen.

2012 was a big year for LinkedIn, especially in the second half of the year with many changes occurring culminating in the new look profiles which most of us now seem to have. I wonder what 2013 will bring for LinkedIn?

Here is a list of my top 3 wishes for LinkedIn this year;

1, A decent iPad app that actually works!

I use my iPad a lot and to me it is far more than a consumption device yet it seems to me that LinkedIn's app is primarily designed to read LinkedIn Today articles, group posts and updates. Things have improved recently in that you can now update your profile from the app but it is severely lacking in many other areas, for instance you are still unable to invite connections correctly. Anyone that has tried inviting a new connection from the app will have noticed that is does not give you the opportunity to personalise the message which is really poor practice and will lead to less acceptances. As a result I recommend all my delegates to avoid inviting from the iPad or any other mobile app.

My biggest complaint however is that the app is completely unstable. I have now stopped using it completely and prefer to use a browser because I was tired of the app crashing almost every time I used it! At first I thought this might be because I was using the original iPad 1st generation model however once I upgraded to the 3rd and then 4th generation models I found exactly the same problem. I have deleted and reloaded the app several times to no avail. My iPhone app is stable so it can't be related to my account, number of connections etc.

I have many apps on my iPad that I use frequently, most of which are developed by small independent companies with nothing like the resources of a large, profitable multinational organisation like LinkedIn and they are all significantly more stable, better designed and more frequently updated and improved.

There really is no excuse LinkedIn, the iPad development team need a hefty kick up the backside!

2, More effective communication tools

My mock up of how Skype integration might look!

The world has moved on from the days where email dominated all online communication, yes it is still the most used method in business but many people now consider email to be the problem rather than the solution these days and the younger generation just think its passé. So it seems somewhat outdated that LinkedIn still rely on a slow 'email like' communication method.

Inmails, 1st tier messages and group messages are all slow, unresponsive means of communicating. One of the key reasons Twitter has been such a success is that it offers users an instant means of 'live communication'. I would like to see LinkedIn implement some kind of instant messaging facility. This could be as simple as making the IM field in contact information a live link (see right) or building their own IM service into the network. My preferred option would be to see the integration of Skype as a way of communicating with first tier connections.

This would allow users to send instant messages, make VoIP calls or conduct video calls directly from within their home page on LinkedIn. I don't think Skype is a perfect solution but it is widely used throughout the world (especially in China where LinkedIn has a challenge to grow its membership) and it has a built-in 'do not disturb' and 'not active' feature that will protect members from receiving unwarranted messages. I can't imagine Skype having any issues with this as it would surely be beneficial to them and LinkedIn already have a partnership with Microsoft (who own Skype) via their Outlook connector.

I suspect however that in line with LinkedIn's main agenda (data capture), they will want to develop any such feature themselves

This would be a game changer for LinkedIn in my opinion and bring them up to date with the latest communication trends.

3, Stop 'dumbing down' the LinkedIn experience!

Actually I am not against simplification per se as it increases activity amongst new and inexperienced users and this can only be a good thing but why does this mean they have to keep removing more advanced functionality? If you read LinkedIn press releases, blog posts and listen the Jeff Weiner's (CEO) speeches the language is all about 'simplification' and this seems to be a core focus for LinkedIn these days. This is fine but why penalize the very users who helped them attract the new users in the first place by removing more advanced functionality? The removal of many apps last year was a clear example of blatantly ignoring the wishes of experienced users who were enjoying and gaining benefit from using apps such as box.net, Amazon reading list and Tripit.

Whilst they have replaced some of the apps with their own media integration feature, the overall functionality of a LinkedIn profile has decreased since the changes. The inability to remove LinkedIn Today from your homepage is another classic example of this. Most users wouldn't even think to change this so why prevent more competent users from tailoring their home page to suit their needs?

The good news is that LinkedIn have definitely upped their game in continually seeking to improve the online experience (if not the app) and I am sure this will continue in 2013. I am definitely excited to see more changes in the coming year, it remains to be seen if my 3 wishes will be met!

What do you think of my wishes and what changes would you like to see in 2013.

Happy New Year to you all.

Keeping In Touch With your LinkedIn Contacts

Today I received a message from a LinkedIn connection of mine. He is a really good bloke who has referred several clients to me in the past. This is the kind of LinkedIn connection I know I should keep in touch with more regularly and this message today has made me feel guilty for not being in touch more often! The problem is that I don't really have a system for keeping in touch. Can you relate to this?

LinkedIn is a great tool to find out about someone before meeting them and (once connected) a great way to keep up to date with what they are up to (via updates) but it's not a great tool to help us remember to keep in touch with someone. Some well-known CRM products integrate with LinkedIn but for many of us a sophisticated (and expensive) CRM tool is overkill - enter FIVEHUNDREDPLUS! (500+)

Last week a contact of mine introduced me to a new, basic but very useful CRM tool for LinkedIn called Five Hundred Plus. After just 30 minutes of playing around on the site I was so excited I decided to contact the developers to understand more about the product, its history and where it was going. 500+ works in a very simple and effective way. Initially you sign in with your LinkedIn account, this way it can look at your network on LinkedIn. Once logged in you just search for a connection (see below) and ‘drag and drop’ them into the relevant column for the frequency of contact.

This however doesn't have to just be for a connection, you can schedule contact reminders for other LinkedIn users outside of your network. You can even add more contacts who are not even on LinkedIn from the 'new contact' button.

Once this is done you will receive an email reminder every Monday morning with details of who you need to schedule contact with that week. If that contact is by email you can even bcc your 500+ account (see below) so that it automatically logs that the email has been sent - genius!

Here is a copy of my first email from 500+;

OK I'm not wild about the use of that awful 'touch base' phrase but its a pretty handy feature to have this weekly reminder!

You can also manually log an interaction and 500+ will then reschedule your next reminder;

Once a note has been added the due date will automatically change to the next scheduled contact (depending on which column it was entered into, see below) and as you can see you can make notes about the interaction as well as making notes about the contact.

This product is still in its alpha stage of development so there are a few little glitches (nothing major) and some functionality that could be added - for instance the site does not give you a link direct back to a contacts LinkedIn profile and it doesn't pull across information from the profile (such as contact information, background etc). I also think a tagging feature would also be useful (especially as it looks like this feature may be under threat with the new LinkedIn profiles). These are all areas for development and I know that Geir Freyson the developer is currently working on some of these improvements.

*UPDATE 28th November - Geir has now updated the site so that contact details now link directly back to the profile and location information is included.

In my experience some of the best app ideas come from developers who themselves find an 'itch' and decide to develop a product to 'scratch' it - this is a classic example of this as Geir told me that this was developed purely as a way to help them to keep in contact with their connections, they found it worked so well for them that they realised they had a product worth developing for a wider audience.

Overall I think this is a fantastic application and the best news....it is completely free! I can imagine an enterprise, team based paid version being a good way to monetize this in the future although I expect this single user basic edition to remain completely free.

Thanks to Geir for taking the time to talk to me about the product and also a quick mention to Mike Watson for introducing it to me in the first place....well spotted Mike!

I strongly suggest you give Five Hundred Plus a go, it could be the missing link in making LinkedIn a more powerful business development, recruiting & networking tool.

LinkedInterview #8

Introduction

My name is Carl Whalley and I run a business called Otamate which offers mobile phone software and services, focussed mainly on Android

When was your LinkedIn date of birth?

November 2007, I can remember exactly where I was at the time I was invited to join. A colleague who sat across the desk from me told me about LinkedIn and invited me to join, there were a few business networks around at the time and LinkedIn didn't seem particularly special but I thought I would give it a go. It did start to gain traction around that time and I started to find more and more people who I knew (mostly from the tech community). November 07 was also a significant month for me in that Google Android launched that month. I knew Android was going to be a big deal and I wanted to be ahead of the curve and become known as a Google Android expert - when I looked at other peoples profiles on LinkedIn they appeared to have badges on them - in the tech community it was badges like Microsoft or Apple etc I soon realised these were LinkedIn Group logo’s so I looked for a Google Android group (merely so that I could have the green robot ‘badge’ on my profile!). I couldn't find one so I decided to create my own! I downloaded the logo (Google have an ‘open source’ attitude to most things so there were no trademark issues to consider) and started inviting people to join - by this time I had figured out that there were more benefits to running a group than just having the ‘badge’ on my profile! This was the first and only Google Android group on LinkedIn for 11 days when another group was created by someone in the US.

Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………."

In my business it is simply the ONLY way that I can achieve what I do. LinkedIn is THE key tool to keep in touch with such a wide range of people that I deal with, I actually tell people that the only way to keep in contact with me is via LinkedIn. I don’t use Facebook or any other social network and I even discourage email now because I can only manage my workload in one place and for me that place in LinkedIn. People often assume that LinkedIn is all about getting a new job but for me its about winning business, I get 100% of my projects through LinkedIn and I have never been busier!

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often?

First thing every morning every day and I am on it all the time! Both online and on mobile (Android of course!) Managing a group of this size is a full time job, I will literally be on my phone and managing the group whilst waiting to pick my daughter up from school.

How many connections do you have?

1144 at the moment, I get plenty of invites every day but I accept very few.

What features of LinkedIn do you use most?

My focus is mostly on my group (see left), it has grown to over 70,000 members now. I currently get about 1 member request a minute! It grew steadily to start with and I had to work very hard to get new members but once I started to get some momentum, it really took off. Things were different then as there were few very large groups, these days there are over a million groups on LinkedIn and many ‘super groups’ with over 50,000 members. It is much harder to attract members these days as people tend to gravitate to where other people are and there are plenty of big groups to pick from. I recently read an article that said that all of the big groups on LinkedIn were started before 2009 and that any groups since have struggled to build extensive membership. Every month I send out a newsletter to all members of the group. This is not a piece of marketing but a useful newsletter that is designed to provide interesting and helpful information to the members. I decided early on that if this was seen as spam then I would not be given a second chance so I have always ensured that the content is relevant. As a result I see real spikes in group activity when I send out the newsletter. The timing of when this email is sent is also very important. I very rarely use any other features although on a few occasions I have sent Inmails to people which have worked quite well.

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn?

All of the business I get is through LinkedIn, 100% so the benefit to me is enormous! This is partly because of the nature of Android and the fact that it is constantly changing, people who join my group are keen to keep up with developments and so they really take notice of my monthly newsletter. Just being the owner of a group is not the key point, its what you do and how often you communicate relevant and interesting content to your members - that is what builds your reputation as an expert and that is what allows me to win lots of business. I have now got involved in developing the Android Academy which provides a qualification for Android developers and this was following an approach via LinkedIn . The qualification allows employers to judge a potential employees level of competence and for individuals to better market themselves. Just recently we have started running this in China which is likely to be massive for us and LinkedIn will continue to be my main tool for marketing the Android Academy throughout the world. Click here for more information on the Academy.

What new features would you like to see?

I would like to see more downloadable content possible for groups. This may only be relevant to my group or similar ones but I would like to see a separate area in groups where downloadable content can be sold - like an app store within a group. The problem with Google's app store is that it is simply too big and developers really find it hard to get their apps noticed. This would give developers a smaller community to promote their app (or product) to. Something similar is already being done on Facebook so it is very achievable.

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020?

I can’t see anyone else challenging LinkedIn in the future, they are so far ahead of any other business networks their positions seems unassailable. Maybe they could be taken over by a massive company who cock things up but I think its unlikely.

I really enjoyed interviewing Carl who talks with great passion about LinkedIn and the success he has enjoyed with his group. To be honest the above information is only about half the content we covered during our chat but I had to cut it down considerably to make sure it was a readable size. 

This gave me an idea - perhaps I could arrange a live webinar where you can hear me talk live to Carl about his experiences in growing this amazing Android community. I could make it a LinkedIn group management training session, live over the web. What do you think? 

New LinkedIn Profiles - Under the Bonnet (Hood)

Last week LinkedIn revealed that profiles will be changing again, this time they describe it as the most significant change to profiles in their history so I thought I would take a closer look to see what we can expect.

These profile changes will gradually spread throughout the network over the next 6 months or so. As you would expect LinkedIn staff are the first to get the new design so I have used their profiles to investigate further.

My overall impression is very positive, it seems the aim here has been to simplify the user interface and make it easier to engage with other users. This is largely an encouraging move from LinkedIn although some aspects of this strategy have reduced and possibly even removed some previously useful features. The danger with simplification is that you can end up 'dumbing down' the tool and in some respects LinkedIn have been guilty of that on this occasion.

1st Tier

Here (right) is an example of a 1st tier connections profile. The first thing you notice is the picture which is much bigger (over 50%), as yet we do not know whether this will alter the size/pixel requirements for a picture but it is fair to assume that low resolution shots are going to look much worse in the new profile.

Otherwise the layout has not changed significantly from the previous change earlier this summer. The layout is cleaner and somewhat simplified but this means that we no longer see how many recommendations someone has and we have to click on the 'contact info' box to see their website links, Twitter link and email address. In addition we now have to hover over the triangle next to 'Send Message' to see the other things we can do with this profile (See below)

The other significant change is that the activity section which was previously in the right hand column has now moved into the prime position right at the top of the profile, this is much better and should encourage more engagement.

The circular graphic on the right is a visual representation of your connections network. The default is set for which companies they are connected to and this can be changed to school, location or industry. This looks pretty but I'm not sure it will be of any great use to us!

As you scroll down the profile you come to the employment section (I assume that the order of the sections will still be something you can adjust) as seen here on the left. This section looks a lot better with the company logos (taken from the company page) showing and forming a link to the company page. In addition they have massively improved the look of recommendations (despite rumours that 'Skills" were taking over from recommendations) which I am really pleased about. The profile photo of the person that wrote the testimonial shows together with the first few lines of the recommendation.

There is another pretty graphic in the right column which shows what you have in common with that person i.e. location, interests, skills and groups. This is much more useful and potentially highlights things that you may wish to discuss with them - again making engagement easier.

Both this and the network info graphic are not just visible for 1st tier connections but can also be seen for 2nd tier connections which makes them even more useful.

Every profile (person) link that you see in a profile now opens a new summary box when you hover over the name so very easily you can see more information about the person who wrote a recommendation or someone from the 'People also viewed" section (see below)

As we scroll down further we see a much cleaner layout again for the Skills, Education and Honors / Awards sections, note how the further education establishment title is a link to the Alumni section of LinkedIn. By clicking here I can see a list of users who went to this university/college and where they live, what they do and where they work. This isn't a new feature but worth highlighting because it can be very interesting. In some respects these types of links have become less obvious, in the old design we became used to knowing that anything in blue was a link. With the new design these links are black until you hover over them.

As mentioned earlier, the recommendations section has been improved, both under the employment section and here under the specific section for recommendations. I have recently changed the way I show recommendations in my profile, because the link (showing the number) at the top of the profile has been removed. I now advise people to show up to 5 recommendations (get as many as you can still but only show the best or most recent ones) and move them towards the top of your profile.

As you can see here on the right of this section you can toggle between a view showing received and given recommendations and there is a link to recommend the individual yourself - this however is not quite what it seems in that it is merely a link to the sent recommendations section (usually found under Contacts>Recommendations). There is no link to directly recommend someone or ask for a recommendation here so that looks like an area for improvement.

The best bit!

The most significant change to functionality and potentially the most useful feature is the ability to search someones connections. We have always been able to click on the number of connections to reveal a list of their 1st tier connections (provided their settings were at the default level - visible) but this has traditionally been of little use when someone had many hundreds or thousands of connections. The list was in alphabetical order and could take hours to go through when looking for someone.

Now we can search by keywords and filter the results in an advanced search - fantastic! By clicking on the connection number at the top of the profile (see highlighted in the first picture above) you are taken to this section further down the profile (see below)

The red arrow points towards the link to search this list by keywords, you can also she how many shared connections you have with each of these individuals and the 'NEXT' link in the bottom right corner still allows you to go through the full list if you wish. Interestingly the list is no longer in alphabetical order and as far as I can tell, seems to be fairly random.

When you click on the magnifying glass a search box opens where you can type any words or phrases you are looking for. In this case I have typed 'Sales Director' (the gap meaning it will need to find both words in the profile although it does appear to automatically prioritize the full phrase by listing those first).

The search reveals that 207 of their connections meet the search criteria and next to this is the link to move the result into an advanced search listing (see arrow). When I click-through to the advanced search I actually only see our shared connections (i.e. first tier only) which must be a glitch. This is easily remedied by selecting 2nd tier from the filters in the left hand side panel to reveal the 193 that are of most interest to me (see below)

This really is a very useful feature. Being able to precisely search through a connections list of connections is, in my opinion, invaluable and will be very helpful in many aspects of using LinkedIn.

2nd Tier

The differences are minimal with a 2nd tier connection, the info graphics are also showing at this level which provides us with more information then we are used to seeing, the 'how we are connected' section (see left) is now shown in a neat looking graphic - again this is mainly cosmetic but definitely an improvement' and there is now a link to ask for an introduction.

3rd Tier

As I have detailed previously 3rd tier have annoyingly been removed from visibility (from a keyword search result) and these changes are the same in the new design (below)

We do also see the 'How You're connected' graphic and also the info graphic on the 3rd tiers network but not the one that shows the things you have in common.

Outside Network

No changes here at all really, apart from those already covered. The name is not visible or the work experience & education summary although we do see a picture for outside network results now, which was a change made in the last re-design.

The bad news!

I'm gutted to announce that one of my favourite features, Tagging of 1st tier connections, looks like it may have been 'canned' - Tagging is a really useful feature, especially as you grow your network. I have spent much time and effort tagging my contacts and I always hoped that it would be a feature that could be used in many other aspects of LinkedIn (ie targeted status updates) but the powers that be may have decided that tagging is no longer a useful feature. From the profiles I have viewed it is not possible to tag a connection from within the profile, I'm hoping that you may still be able to tag from within the connection page but I do fear the worst.

RIP tagging, it was good while it lasted.

It would also appear that 3rd party applications have disappeared from these new profiles. I checked the profiles of many Slideshare staff who (as they are part of the LinkedIn group) all have the new design and none of them were showing the Slideshare app on their profile. This concerned me so I contacted many of the companies who currently have LinkedIn apps. Some didn't reply while others seemed unaware of any change however Wordpress replied saying "We understand that LinkedIn is planning to discontinue its InApp platform with the introduction of the new profiles" LinkedIn themselves stated; "We're working on new ways to integrate 3rd party content on the new profile & we'll have more info to share in the coming weeks"  Which isn't saying a lot and doesn't really provide much comfort.

My guess is that Slideshare will return (otherwise why acquire them?!) but other apps will disappear - especially those that encourage the reader to move away from LinkedIn (i.e. Wordpress, Blog Link, Box).

I am struggling to see how these negative changes can be sold to us as 'enhancing the user experience', it's also annoying the way they love to tell us about new things but say nothing about features they have removed, it just makes it seem like you are being conned somehow.

So there we go, I have played with these profiles a fair bit and hope I haven't missed anything important, please let me (and other readers) know if I have.

I think LinkedIn is actually starting to look pretty funky and modern now which has to be a good thing and if these changes mean that users do start to become more engaged then we will all benefit.

What do you think?

LinkedIn Skill Endorsements - My Take

ImageI Have always been a big supporter of recommendations on LinkedIn, I know some people abuse the feature by collecting insincere testimonials from anyone and everyone but on the whole they are a pretty good indication of the qualities that someone possesses. The reality is that someone is only likely to take the time to write a recommendation if they genuinely know enough about you and feel the world should know how good you are. This is why I thought it was a backward step when LinkedIn removed the number of recommendations from the top section of a profile in the recent re-design. The number is not the most important thing but it did at least bring the reader's attention to the fact that you had recommendations on your profile. In contrast I see the new skills endorsements feature as severely lacking any credibility!

Its seems as though our home pages have been filled with notifications of people racing to endorse each other, some may be very genuine but as it requires merely a click of a button, its impossible to tell so the logical conclusion is that it means very little.

My experience was that I logged on to find that a friend of mine had endorsed me for the skill 'LinkedIn' I clicked on this link and was presented with 4 other connections and an invitation to endorse a skill for each of them See below (this feature has since disappeared for me)

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I can click on each person and endorse them for that specific skill or I can just click on 'Endorse all 4' and because it is easy to just click all 4 I think most people will do that, without even looking at what the skills are!

I found myself looking at certain connections (not the above ones) and thinking 'Can I really say they know about that?' For instance a specialist financial recruiter who has 'statutory accounting' as a skill....would I employ them to do my accounts?!

The problem is that most people won't even give it a thought and that makes this feature a complete waste of the digital space it occupies!

You can even add more skills to a connections profile is you wish, the below box appears at the top of a connections profile.

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Again the temptation here is to just click the yellow 'Endorse' box thereby endorsing all skills listed, without giving it any real consideration.

I have to say that I really don't get it but for the purpose of balance, here is a quote from a fan of endorsements written in a recent group discussion I was involved with;

"Endorsements are 'public' approvals for certain skill sets, the credence comes from multiple people giving a thumbs-up. Of course they are open to abuse (just like Recommendations) but you will get a more granular evaluation of an individual's capabilities and over time, the accuracy of these public likes ought to improve over time".

I can see where LinkedIn are coming from with this and the above comment (not from LinkedIn) is a credible argument but it all feels very 'Facebook' to me. I never take the blind bit of notice if a friend 'likes' a brand/company/service on Facebook. Do you?

So where are LinkedIn going with this? First they introduce skills at the same time as removing the 'specialties' section without any explanation and then endorsements...what next?

I have no inside knowledge on this, just a gut feeling that this is all part of a bigger plan. They initially built a list of skills (originally you could just add anything yourself), then they made skills a requirement of having a 100% profile (a clear sign they had bigger plans for skills) and now endorsements. I suspect that we will see skills become a searchable feature (not currently the case) where result rankings are determined by the number of endorsements. This may well be a premium feature, only available to high level upgrades or corporate recruiter licences - I suspect that this level of attention by LinkedIn suggests some commercial intention.

Only time will tell, maybe I will have to eat my words in 6 months time.

What do you think? All views are very welcome.

LinkedInterview #7

Introduction 

My name is Steven Jones and I currently work for Ballard Dale Syree Watson which is a firm of independent Chartered Accountants, we are based out of Droitwich in Worcestershire with 5 partners and about 50 professional staff. My role is Business Development Director with responsibility for new client engagement, marketing and also the recruitment of our staff. We are a general practice who also have a specialist focus on the Healthcare and agribusiness sectors and are known for having particular expertise in the area of tax. Our clients range from micro businesses to £100 million turnover organisations.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth? 

17th January 2009

Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………." 

A really good way to keep abreast of what is happening in business both locally and nationally and an effective way of making new contacts whilst sat at your desk.

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often? 

I typically login at my desk about a half hour before I start work to have a read through the news and updates on my home page. I keep LinkedIn open all day but I will typically go back to it for another look at updates/news etc at lunchtime and again when I get home in the evening. I also run a group on LinkedIn for local businesses so I check this for new discussions and members before 8.30am every day.

How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone? 

c2000 I have quite a wide network, partly due to the nature of our business and partly because I think it is rude to not accept an invitation. The way I see it is if you were at an offline networking meeting and someone came up to you and offered you their business card. Would you ignore them and walk away? LinkedIn is no different in my opinion. That said my home feed is a valuable real estate and if a connection was clogging it up with irrelevant posts, I would have no hesitation in hiding their updates.

The type of people I will target to connect with would be specialist Recruiters because they have large and relevant networks and I also target Accountants working elsewhere so that I can keep in touch and track their career progression

What features of LinkedIn do you use most? 

I consider myself to be a fairly basic user so most of my attention is focussed on reading updates and news on my home page. I also use groups a lot to network with local businesses and keep abreast of relevant topics for some our specialist areas (agriculture, healthcare etc). I also run my own group called the Worcestershire Business Community group, I started it about 6 months ago and currently it has about 180 members. I find this is a great way to communicate and engage with the local business community. I write a blog for my company (with help from colleagues) and feed this into the group, as well as posting relevant pieces into other groups where appropriate. I keep the group very open and like to encourage participation, I don't moderate the content prior to posting because I think it can be very frustrating for someone to have to wait to see their post when they have taken the time to contribute. Obviously I would remove anything inappropriate but this hasn't been much of an issue so far.  I accept everyone who asks to join, no competitors have as yet but to be fair I can’t see any harm in letting them in, it's a community and they are valuable members of that community so they may have something useful to contribute. It was quite challenging to get things going at first but I get a real kick these from seeing the members interacting with each other and gaining real benefit from the group.

I tend not to publicise the blog through status updates because I am concerned that I might be clogging up my connections home page feed with repeated posts in different areas of LinkedIn.

I occasionally perform an advanced search to find specific people who might be relevant to a certain article of piece of information that I may want to share with them.

What is your favourite feature?

I think I would say my home page really, its proved to be a valuable source of relevant information.

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn? 

Plenty. I can think of several clients who I originally came across on LinkedIn, some via my group or other groups, some who I have found via a search and others that I have come across in the ‘people you may know’ section and begun to engage with and over time have started to do business with them. I would never approach a potential client and directly sell to them, for me its all about a basic introduction and an invitation to connect and this gets me on their radar. We have also recruited several key staff via LinkedIn either by a direct approach or via cascading information through groups. I also received a job offer before joining here via LinkedIn.

What new features would you like to see? 

It would be cool if LinkedIn had a video chat/conferencing facility, something like Skype integrated into LinkedIn or maybe even a Skype plugin. There would need to be some good privacy controls to avoid being hassled by people but this is easily controlled on Skype so shouldn’t be a barrier. As well as individual conversations you could also set up something within a group where a time was organised for a live presentation or discussion. For example this interview could have been conducted live and others would be able to dial in and listen - all via LinkedIn

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020? 

I’m really not sure, technology is a ‘fickle mistress’! Just ask MySpace or Nokia. It's hard to know what is around the corner in social media, never mind in 8 years time! 8 years ago we didn't have Twitter and LinkedIn was hardly known.

My concern is that LinkedIn becomes saturated by recruiters and too dominated by people who use it purely to get a job or fill a job. I think it's a great recruitment tool but it is far more than that and I think it is important to ensure that people are still able to use it as a networking tool.

It strikes me that the key to Steve's success with LinkedIn has been the lack of 'selling' he does on the site, despite being a Business Development Director!

Steve has spent time and effort to build relationships, share news, run a group community etc etc. This is typical of the actions of a good 'Social salesperson'.

A big thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer these questions. If you feel you have an interesting LinkedIn story to tell please get in touch at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com

You're Stealing Our Contacts!

A Manager of a recruitment business who is sick of consultants who leave the company and ‘take’ contacts with them via LinkedIn recently asked me what they could do to prevent this.

This is a pretty common question and an understandable concern, not just for Recruitment companies but for any organisation that is encouraging its sales staff to use LinkedIn in their role.

For what it is worth my thoughts on this are as follows;

This is what you can do

* When you recruit a new consultant or sales person ask them to download to a spreadsheet a list of all of their first tier connections (this is done via the contacts menu - see below right). Declare in a signed document that you agree that these connections are ‘owned’ by the consultant. * Encourage, support and train your consultants to use LinkedIn for both client and candidate generation purposes during normal working hours. * When the consultant resigns ask them to repeat the process of downloading all of their 1st tier connections onto a spreadsheet. * Insist that all connections made whilst in the employ of the company are disconnected with (spreadsheet 2 minus spreadsheet 1). Ensure this is done to your satisfaction before the consultant leaves. * Ensure that the above is clearly stated in their contract of employment.

This is what you should do

* Accept that connections are very different from contacts and relationships, a connection may be just a gateway to other users and not necessarily a relationship that in any way threatens the company. * Encourage, support and train your consultants to use LinkedIn for both client and candidate generation purposes. In other words, get the most out of their LinkedIn activities as a company whilst they are in your employ. * Encourage all consultants to ask their connections to follow the company and incentivise clients and candidates to follow the company page. * Ensure that any restrictive covenants in place are explicit in their definition of ‘contact’ including reference to LinkedIn messages. Make it very clear in exit interview that contact via social media and LinkedIn during the restricted period is a breach of contract. * Wish them well and stay on good terms.

LinkedIn are very clear in that they state that an individuals connections always belong to them, this is irrespective of when that connection was made or what type of account upgrade or corporate licence they are operating under.

If anyone tries to persuade you that the infamous Hays vs Ions case is a precedent that protects you then think again. My understanding of the circumstances of that case was that there was a clear audit trail of evidence showing that contacts were taken from the company's database to the individuals new company database via LinkedIn. This is very different to the vast majority of situations.

I know this is a difficult and frustrating issue but the bottom line is that good quality consultants & sales people build strong lasting relationships with clients and candidates. They did before LinkedIn and they still do now! Restrictive covenants aside, you really can't prevent those relationships from continuing after they leave your company.

If you really want to ensure security and retention of client contacts then perhaps you should employ lower quality consultants....then your problem is solved!

Please note, I am not a lawyer....nor do I wish to be so any actions you undertake should always be checked with your qualified legal advisors first.

LinkedIn Reduces in Size

A lot is made of the phenomenal growth of LinkedIn, the last published figures were 175 million members (well past 180 by now) and growing at a rate of over two a second! Yet you may be surprised to know that, as of this weekend, the number of LinkedIn users that you can see has dropped considerably. Almost overnight you have become invisible to millions of users who may be potential customers, employers or employees!

As you may know, the headline figures that LinkedIn quote have always been rather irrelevant because the only number that really counted was the number of users that you can see and can in turn, see you. This has traditionally been the combined number of 1st, 2nd & 3rd tier connections plus those who you shared a group with and whilst we havent been able to see the surname 3rd tier and group members, it didn't really matter that much because we could read their full profile......until now that is!

3rd Tier Are Now Invisible

This weekend LinkedIn have quietly removed the visibility of the profiles of all your 3rd tier and shared group users. Nothing has been mentioned officially (always a sign that they know this will be a very unpopular move). The reality of this change is that LinkedIn has immediately become a less productive place to be.

Lets examine these changes in more detail

There are two ways to find 3rd tier connections on LinkedIn, by performing a keyword search or by searching for them by name. If you now perform a keyword search, those users who are 3rd tier or share a group with you will now look like this;

The visibility of someone you search for by name however is not affected.

Note in the first example we can no longer see their summary or contact information, the same applies to people outside of our network. We also do not have the option to invite them to connect (this bit isn’t new)

In order to see a full profile of 3rd tier or group members we now have to upgrade our account, the cheapest upgrade that allows this visibility is the 'Business' account under 'Other premium accounts' and this is going to set you back at least £155 a year or £16.95 if you pay monthly.

Why is this important?

This really depends on why you are using LinkedIn, for many users it won’t seem to make any difference but what happens if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to get a new job? I have been working with some jobseekers recently and advising them on how to make their profile optimised and visible to as many people as possible. LinkedIn is used extensively by recruiters, the majority of which are free users. Jobseekers will now find that despite writing a great profile that is highly optimised for keyword searches, they will now get less interest from recruiters because all that information they have carefully constructed is now invisible to their 3rd tier and fellow group members. LinkedIn make the majority of their revenue from selling recruitment/searching products, I can only assume that this move is designed to increase that revenue. The problem is that every time they make LinkedIn more expensive for recruiters to use, its jobseekers that suffer and in these difficult economic times that seems somewhat harsh and insensitive to me. I don’t have a problem with LinkedIn making money, the are after all a publicly quoted company with shareholders to satisfy but I do wonder if they have thought through the full consequences of these changes.

What can we do about it?

Not much unfortunately! Your headline is still visible to everyone so I would suggest you now include the following information in your headline;

  • Full Name
  • Email address
  • Concise summary of what you have to offer

...and you have 120 characters (inc spaces) in which to do this! (see example right)

You can also change your connection strategy and connect with a greater number of users thus increasing the amount of 2nd tier to replace some of the 3rd tier you have lost (this flies in the face of LinkedIn's advice on who you connect with but changes like this will encourage more connections)

Jobseekers do have the option of upgrading their account and selecting a feature called 'Openlink' which is not a default setting but can be selected at any level of upgrade including the cheapest upgrade called the 'Jobseeker basic' at  £12.95 per month

The Openlink feature states that recruiters (anyone in fact) can message you for free which is great as it means you don't have to put your email address in your profile but more importantly it makes you visible to everyone on LinkedIn - no restrictions at all! Unfortunately the people who are least likely to be able to spend money upgrading their account are those that are out of work!

For recruiters this is obviously an annoying setback but the good news is that X-ray searching of public profiles still works provided that you are not logged into LinkedIn in the browser in which the X-ray the search is done. Below is an example of what a Google or Bing search reveals when you use the command site:linkedin.com followed by a unique phrase from the headline (assuming there is one);

As you can see the public profile still shows the full name and profile so not all is lost, the challenge comes when a headline merely states something like 'Account Manager' because you now can't check the rest of the profile to find a more unique phrase.

Summary

I am usually pretty positive about most aspects of LinkedIn but on this matter I am disappointed. The turning point for LinkedIn might have been in May 2011 when the business was floated on the New York Stock Exchange, from that point onwards they become a business that has to return greater and greater revenue & profits to its shareholders and that inevitably means that their original mission statement "Connect The Worlds Professionals To Make Them More productive & Successful" could become compromised, I hope not but........

As of today I suspect that many LinkedIn users will find it harder to be more productive & successful

and that is a great shame.

What do you think? Can you see any positives for users? I would love to hear your views.

LinkedInterview #6

Introduction

My name is Shirley Cooper and I have various roles - probably best described as a ‘portfolio career’ working as an Executive and Non Executive Director for a number of businesses.

My work involves developing commercial best practices at board level for a variety of businesses.  It's really exciting and everyday is different because it involves both commercial and not for profit organisations and I get involved with everything from global businesses to sole practitioners. All the work I do is generated by referral.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth?

April 2006.  I've worked in technology for the past 13 years so we were relatively early adopters.  It's a great tool to stay connected, re-establish old contacts and friends and indeed find those that have gone missing!

Finish this sentence “to me LinkedIn is……….”

...My professional address book!  I only link to people I have met and know.  So it's a truly great business tool to keep me in touch with what everyone is up to business-wise. Note from Editor; I have known Shirley for many years and she is one of the most active offline networkers I have met so when she says she only connects to people she knows...it is worth noting that she genuinely knows a lot of people!

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often?

Most days and now i have an iPad it's even easier. This is normally instigated by a message or invitation from someone and then when I am there I always have a look at what is happening on my home page stream, this can be very distracting because I am always fascinated to see what others are up to!

How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone?

1413 connections which is lot but I do get to meet many people, LinkedIn has proved to be a great memory aid because people will contact me and I don't always remember them immediately but one quick look at their LinkedIn profile really helps me to remember them and remind me of the context in which we met. A photograph on a profile is incredibly helpful in this respect.

Whilst I normally only connect to people I have met and know (just a brief meeting is not enough to feel its appropriate to connect), on rare occasions I may accept an invitation from someone in "our network" (2nd tier) who asks to connect.

I was very privileged to be on the Board of CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing & supply) and more recently I was the CIPS President, which introduced me to so many fantastic procurement professionals who I've had the opportunity to work with and connect.   Plus being in technology has introduced me to many technology suppliers and all the various other interests I have (see profile) so it has not been difficult to get to nearly 1500

What features of LinkedIn do you use most?

I look at the updates most days to see what my connections are up to and sometimes I might add a comment i.e. congratulating someone on a new role or commenting on a blog post, I tend to notice updates when they have links attached because they usually have some kind of picture which makes them stand out more.

What is your favorite feature?

I do like the updates.  Also when I meet someone for the first time, I will research on LinkedIn in to see what we have in common, and indeed what they look like, especially if the meeting is not in their office. I find the mobile apps are especially handy for this. I have always researched people who I am going to meet for instance the other people at my table at a function and in the days before LinkedIn this used to take a very long time!

I also enjoy checking who has been looking at my profile.

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn?  

I run a women's procurement network group called the Blueprint Club through LinkedIn and we have over 150 members, this was originally started offline but we converted it to a LinkedIn group where it is much easier to run and we now attract members from all over the world.  We hold events from time to time and its an easy way to communicate to our ever-growing members.

What new features would you like to see?

There are probably features that already exist that I am not using fully, never mind new ones!

I am conscious I should be filtering my home page feed to see more relevant information.

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020?

A lot has changed in the past ten years so who knows what the next 10 will hold.  Staying connected has always been relevant in business.  13 years ago when I moved south and joined Computacenter I loaded my address book onto Lotus notes address book but I have never used it since.  Now I have my addresses in iCloud (personal) and LinkedIn (professional).  I could not have imaged that back then so what next? I wonder if personal and professional contacts will merge or at least be kept in one place, this consolidation will help to make things better organised. That said I prefer to keep my personal and professional identities quite separate so I wouldn't want this to be any more than just a more efficient way of organising contacts. I am not a big user of Facebook but I do keep my ‘friends’ as personal friends and family and my professional contacts as ‘connections’ on LinkedIn. I’m not sure the younger generation see it like this though so maybe that will change in the future and if it does then LinkedIn will need to adjust to that.

I wanted to interview Shirley because I know that she has been a very effective offline networker for many years. It's interesting to see how she uses LinkedIn as an aid to make her offline activities more effective such as;

  • As a way to remind her who someone is that she has met sometime ago
  • Researching the backgrounds of people she is going to meet
  • Running a networking group online
  • Keeping up with what is going on with her network

A big thanks to Shirley for taking the time to answer these questions. If you feel you have an interesting LinkedIn story to tell please get in touch at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com