LINKEDIN, like most of the social networks has had some significant changes in recent months. The bad news is that some of the functions and features that I have enjoyed and have used heavily in the past have been retired.
LinkedIn is probably one of the most focussed companies I know, and therefore I imagine the features they are retiring they are doing so simply because they are not revenue earners.
The good news is, there are some fantastic new features which are worth checking out.
Here is a list of some of the key changes you need to be aware of:
Out with the old
1. Apps are being retired - At the end of January 2013 it was announced that Apps (short for applications) on LinkedIn are being retired. Previously LinkedIn had offered approximately 10 apps including an app for SlideShare where you could add your recent presentations uploaded to SlideShare to your LinkedIn profile; an Amazon app where you could display books you had been reading; Tripit.com which is a fantastic app for people who regularly do business travels and a wide range of others.
2. Events - I used to love the ability to list events I was running on LinkedIn and to encourage people to attend those events by inviting LinkedIn connections of doing a direct message through LinkedIn with a link to the event I had listed on LinkedIn. This function is also no longer available and probably the one that I noticed the biggest public uproar about. Though we will all live without events on LinkedIn, and fortunately Facebook has countered by expanding the features on its Events app such as allowing us to feature cover photos for the event and insert a link to buy tickets, I do think it is a shame that in a professional business social network like LinkedIn, we cannot list events that might be of more interest to a B2B market as opposed to what is a typically B2C market on Facebook.
3. LinkedIn Answers - LinkedIn Answers was one of the lesser known products, however it was certainly well used by those who knew of its existence. Under LinkedIn Answers, one used to be able to pose questions they needed help with in a business context, and the greater LinkedIn community would post answers. Similarly you could contribute answers to questions posed by others. This function is no longer available and I can't help but wonder what will happen to the amazing repository of information that had already been created by the wider network of the community. Surely there was some value in that, but alas, it wasn't really a revenue earner for LinkedIn so this is probably why it had to go too.
In with the new
1. Add videos, documents, presentations or images to your profile - A more recent edition to LinkedIn Profiles is the ability to add videos, image, document or presentations to any of your LinkedIn job listing. In our case we have a one-minute show piece of who The Creative Collective is and what we do, so it was a no-brainer to insert a clip that had already been uploaded to YouTube and placing it alongside my role as the founder and owner of the Creative Collective. Personally I am a big fan of inserting video over photos or documents as they really bring your profile alive. If you don't have this collateral sitting around, don't forget there is always your smart phone that can help you create video pretty quickly and easily these days.
2. Endorsements - First things first, there seems to be a little confusion between endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn. To set some records straight, recommendations are full-blown testimonials. You can access them by going into the 'Connections' tab and dropping down to 'Recommendations'. From here you can request a recommendation from a connection for a particular role you hold currently, or have held in the past. You can also offer people you have done business with a fantastic pat on the back by way of a LinkedIn recommendation. Endorsements on the other hand are more of a thumbs up to confirm that a connection of yours on Linkedin has a skill they are touting to have.
You will notice that on LinkedIn you are prompted to list your areas of expertise and over time with this new feature, your LinkedIn connections will give you public endorsements if they believe you do indeed have those skills. LinkedIn is really pushing these endorsements at the current time. You'll notice it will prompt you to provide people with a few endorsements soon after you log in.
I have been really humbled by the number of people that have offered me endorsements, even in some areas of skills and expertise I don't regard myself an expert in! Nice they think so anyway. As an aside, I was curious as to whether endorsements carry any weight to your Google rankings, so I went and researched the topic. It appears for the time being, my research has uncovered that they don't, however I would be surprised if in the future they do, so keep those endorsements and offer them to others in the meantime.
3. Projects - In some industries you may work on projects. You can now add these to LinkedIn to help people understand not only who you are and what you do (and have done) in terms of roles at companies, but also what projects you have been involved in. Consider these as case studies to help people further understand your skills and experience, and in the case of projects, who else was involved in the project and therefore who you associate with.
4. Achievements - As you will know if you have read previous posts of mine, I am a great fan of entering business awards as a highly effective marketing strategy. Fortunately I have had a fair amount of success with them, and as a result under the honours and achievements program, I am pleased to be able to list what those accolades have been. This gives my LinkedIn profile some extra credibility and will hopefully encourage people to do business with me. If you have ever had a finalist award or actually won an award or achievement, I encourage you to list these in this section too.
I hope some of these tips give you suggestions as to how LinkedIn, like other social networks, is constantly updating its features and functions.
Have the retiring of some of LinkedIn's features affected the way you use it? Are you already taking advantage of the new features, or has this post given you some ideas? What are your favourite LinkedIn features and why?
We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.
By Yvette Adams, director of The Creative Collective.
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