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Two timely notes on LinkedIn

January 5, 2015

Let’s peek in on recent changes at LinkedIn …

LinkedIn follow button

1. Hidden features and/or bugs. Good news: You can now “Follow” LinkedIn users. The traditional “Connect” to other members required permission from the recipient, but Follow does not.

Bad news: This feature is hidden, so no one will ever actually follow you. Worse news: The feature also reveals the user’s total number of connections (supposedly a private figure).

Let’s say you want to encourage strangers to Follow you on LinkedIn instead of Connecting. (This works out great for me, since I require actually knowing you to Connect.) You must direct them to your profile’s Recent Activity page … here’s mine.

LinkedIn - view recent activityTo find yours:

  1. Go to LinkedIn.com and log in.
  2. Click Profile in the main menu.
  3. Float your pointer over the triangle next to “View your profile” and click “View recent activity.”

You can do this with anyone’s profile.

The screenshot above shows my LinkedIn profile’s Recent Activity page. Note two important elements: The yellow Follow button in the upper right, and the statistic just to the left. (Click the screenshot if you want to see it full size, or just go straight to the live page.)

Usually, LinkedIn keeps a user’s number of connections hidden after reaching the 500 mark, shown as “500+ Connections.” But this page reveals the exact number. Intentional? Bug? Doesn’t matter, it’s out there for now.

Go Follow your favorite big shots on LinkedIn (though they might connect with you anyway). See how many connections they really have (501? 5 million?). And Follow me, too.

LinkedIn InMail change

2. A complete 180 on the InMail policy. Starting this month, LinkedIn is changing how it reinstates used InMails, and you’re not gonna like it.

Pro users such as myself get a set number of InMails, special LinkedIn emails, that they can use to make initial contact with other users.

The old policy was that if you contacted strangers on LinkedIn using InMail, you’d get those InMails reinstated if no one responded within 7 days. The new policy is that you get those InMails reinstated only if the user responds.

Hmmph.

LinkedIn states:

“We want to reward people who are writing the most effective messages and getting responses by crediting InMail messages back to their accounts.”

That makes perfect sense … except for one huge flaw. It punishes LinkedIn users for reaching out unknowingly to inactive customers. I send Joe Smith, CEO at Acme Corp., an InMail asking for advice. Joe never logs into LinkedIn, and his notification email address goes to a dead account.

Peachy. I just lost an InMail, not because I didn’t use the system properly, but because Joe doesn’t use LinkedIn the way I do. In the old system, I would’ve gotten that InMail back, but under the new system, I lose because I’m not psychic and had no idea Joe wasn’t that into LinkedIn.

I can write the most eloquent note to Joe, but if he never logs in to read it, what good will it do?

LinkedIn, you’re punishing your power users for no apparent reason (except maybe to upsell additional InMail credits).

In the 10 years I’ve been on LinkedIn, I’ve sent dozens of InMails with mixed results, and maybe received only a few (probably because it’s just as easy to contact me on or off LinkedIn without burning an InMail).

Maybe the powers at LinkedIn will reverse course when they see usage plummet in 2015. I’ll keep sending InMails till I run out …

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