by Bob Woods
on March 2, 2017

Two LinkedIn Changes For the Better

Ever since LinkedIn decided to revamp its main platform, I’ve seen a lot of gnawing and gnashing of teeth about the changes. I think many of the improvements are, in fact, improvements. They really fixed the old platform and not only brought it into the modern age, but now is much closer to the company’s mobile products in terms of functionality.

In my mind, though, they either lost of failed to address some of the many little things I saw as problems with the old LinkedIn. With this new release, though, they’ve added something I saw as a problem: a call to action for customizing connection requests. They’ve still stumbled in another related area, though, which I’ll get to below.

LinkedIn also made a change to something I never considered. They made it easier to follow other people on the platform (without connecting with them). Again, though, they didn’t get it quite right.

Customization is King!

First off, I’ve always taught my learners to customize their connection requests. I’m sure you’ve gotten LinkedIn connection requests in the past where you had no idea why the person sending the message wants to connect with you. And if you’re like me, you decline those requests.

I also believed, though, that a big part of that fault rest on LinkedIn’s shoulders because it made it difficult to customize those messages. Now, though, LinkedIn has taken a half-step towards solving that problem by showing this pop-up window when you make such a request from a person’s profile:

This is an important step (and one that I emphasize in my training) because the key here is to make your connection requests personal and relevant. It’s important to really make the effort to personalize because your request becomes about them and not you. You’ll also show that you care enough about wanting to connect with them to do a bit of research prior to reaching out to connect. You’ll have a much better shot of having them accept when you personalize. Just remember you only have 300 characters with which to work in your note.

Where LinkedIn failed, though, is that it’s not including this pop-up nearly enough throughout its site. In my testing, I’ve only found this box when one requests a connection through the profile. When you send requests from other parts of the site (The “People You Know” section in My Network, for example), they still go right through without the opportunity for customization.

For this reason, I still recommend making all requests from the person’s profile page. You actually accomplish two tasks when doing this: Besides getting the opportunity to customize, you can learn a lot about someone from their profile, which you can then include in your connection requests.

Follow that Lead, Opinion Leader, etc.

This next one applies when a connection of yours likes, comments or shares a LinkedIn Published Post from one of their connections, and has to do with following other people.

The act of following someone on LinkedIn is different from connecting with her or him, as you get to see what they share in their timelines (as well as when they publish articles on LinkedIn). You’re not actually connected with that person, but you can see what they’re doing while being involved with the platform.

For those of us who publish, it’s now easier to build an audience of people who want to follow what we’re posting while not actually connecting with us. LinkedIn has added a “Follow” link next to our names (like Sam Shank below):

If memory serves, there was a “Follow” button in articles in the old version of LinkedIn. But I like this implementation better because you’re more likely to follow someone when that link is right next to your name.

By the way, if you want to follow someone who hasn’t published an article—someone who appears in your LinkedIn timeline as the result of one of your connections liking, commenting or sharing her/his article, for example—it’s a bit more difficult to find. But it can be done; here’s how:

  1. Go to their profile.
  2. To the right of their photo, find the “ellipsis” icon (see below) and click on it.
  3. From the drop-down, click on “Follow.”

From a social selling standpoint, you can follow people in a strategic way; for example, if you’ve been trying to contact someone and they haven’t gotten back to you, following them gets you “pinging” on their radar. How? Not only is that someone notified when you start following them, but you start to see their updates in your newsfeed, which gives you a chance to interact with what they’re saying. That really ratchets up the ol’ radar pings.

Whether you follow someone from a timeline post or from a LinkedIn published article, you’re in a better position to make a connection request after you’ve interacted with them in their own timeline content or in the comments section of one of their articles.

I’ve got a long laundry list of items that I’d also like to see implemented by LinkedIn’s “powers that be” that are way too long to list here. Hopefully, we’ll see more of them as time goes by… and as the continuing of the new LinkedIn roll out hits a fever pitch.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.


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