Help, I’ve Reached My LinkedIn Commercial Use Limit

No Commercial Search

If you are like me and run a lot of searches on LinkedIn, eventually you are going to run into LinkedIn’s new commercial use limit.  This is a new ‘feature’ that LinkedIn quietly rolled out in January 2015 as a way to reign in users who are overusing their free LinkedIn accounts.  I just bumped into my limit yesterday and want to share my thoughts and offer a few ways to get around the limit.

When you reach the limit, this message box appears in your search results:

I did not even know that this meant and had to click through to the Learn more link to see what I had done.  LinkedIn still offers up four results for your search, but that’s it.  One nice “tongue-in-cheek” feature that I enjoy is that LinkedIn does personalize their error message to take out some of the sting.  In any case, my search capabilites are serious limited until the limit resets at the beginning of next month.

When you click on the Learn more link, you are taken to a LinkedIn landing page whichexplains the new policy:

“As part of our ongoing efforts to make search on LinkedIn more relevant and powerful for you, we’re increasing the visibility of your extended network in search. You’ll now be able to view full names and profiles for anyone in your extended network – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree – a level of visibility previously available only to paid subscribers. Previously, you would have only seen the first names with last names obfuscated for some search results, but you’ll now be able to see full names and profiles of all results. This will help you find even more of the people you’re looking for, and get yourself found more in return.”

Essentially, LinkedIn is trying to migrate more power users onto a higher paid subscription account.  When they use the term “Commercial”, they are referring to users who are using LinkedIn for recruiting or sales prospecting purposes – or what they assume are recruiting or prospecting purposes.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH LINKEDIN’S THINKING

No Quantification of Limit – LinkedIn has not identified how many searches are too many, and the limit may actually vary from person to person.  This lack of transparency is very annoying and frankly wrong in my mind.  LinkedIn says are that they warn you when you are within 30% of hitting your limit, but I either ignored or did not see that warning.

Job Seeker Premium Accounts Are Not Premium Enough – To make matters worse, I actually have a LinkedIn premium account, but I guess that is not enough.  I am currently paying $29.95 per month for a Job Seeker premium account, and I still bumped into the limit.   I guess the issue is that LinkedIn is assuming that the queries I run are for commercial purposes and not for background research on the jobs and companies I am interested in pursuing.  LinkedIn obviously wants me to pay more for my ‘commercial’ searches.

GETTING AROUND THE SEARCH LIMITATION
Here is how you get around the search limit without buying a premium subscription:

LinkedIn iPhone or iPad App – For some unexplainable reason (to me), the search results for me are not impacted when I conduct a search using the iPhone or iPad LinkedIn app.  Maybe I shouldn’t say this out loud, but it appears (for now) that you can search on your mobile or tablet device without running into the search limitation.  If you are not using these apps yet, this is a good reason to give them a test drive.

X-Ray Search Technique – The other alternative is to use one of the X-Ray Search techniques.  I wrote a post last year with a detailed explanation of how to use the X-Ray Search Technique to take advantage of LinkedIn’s public profiles.  Public LinkedIn profiles include /pub/ in their URL, and around 90% of all LinkedIn profiles have a public profile which can be searched using Google or Internet Explorer search.  Users can opt out of having a public profile, but you have to make a conscious choice under Privacy and Settings.

A simpler approach is to just start your query with “LinkedIn /pub” and then include your search phrases.  For example, I was looking for LinkedIn users yesterday who work at PwC in the social media space and I used the following simple query for my search:

While this approach is not as convenient as using Advanced Search in LinkedIn, it does yield results and actually returns more results than you may receive via LinkedIn.

 CONCLUSION

This new search limitation will definitely impact many in the recruiting, sales and marketing fields, and I am surprised that I have not seen more outrage at this policy.  The bottom line is that you will likely have to start paying to access LinkedIn features that were previously free to use.

Let me know your thoughts on Commercial Search limitations and how you are addressing it.

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How Are You Using LinkedIn?

How are you using LinkedIn?  How much time are you spending on LinkedIn each week?  What LinkedIn features do you find most useful?  Are you an above average user?

You can see where you stack up by looking at this new infographic from LinkedIn Expert Wayne Breitbarth.

Here are some of the highlights from his recently released analysis on LinkedIn usage.  

Connections — 41% of those surveyed report more than 500 connections which is up from 30% in 2013

Paid Members — the number of paid members dropped from 18% to 16% in 2014

Amount of time spent on LinkedIn — 58% of people are now spending more than 2 hours a week on LinkedIn, up from 47% in 2013

#1 Activity — 74% of people say that LinkedIn has helped them with doing people and company research

Linkedin Infographic
Via: PowerFormula for Linkedin Success

What Are You Doing About Your Talent Brand?

talentbrand

Talent Branding is one of those buzzwords that is rapidly growing in popularity among companies of all sizes.  LinkedIn recently presented their top 5 recruiting investments for 2014, and investing in Talent Branding was #2 on their list.

LinkedIn describes Talent Branding as follows:

“Your Talent Brand is the highly social, totally public version of your employer brand that incorporates what your talent – past, present and potential – thinks, feels and shares about your company as a place to work”

According to LinkedIn, their survey reveals that 83% of people agree that Talent Branding has significant impact on the ability to hire great talent and can also:

    • lower cost per hire by up to 50%
    • reduce employee turnover by 28%

Where to invest time and budget is a question that all companies ask and the LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends Survey identified the top 10 channels for communicating talent branding. The Company Website continues to lead as the place where most companies invest their efforts, but online professional networks (like LinkedIn) showed the largest year over year growth.

Talent Branding Investments

One of the top tasks you can undertake is to standardize the LinkedIn profiles for each of your employees to include the key marketing messages for your company.  The profile of every employee on LinkedIn is essentially a micro-marketing site and very few companies are leveraging this potentially valuable marketing real estate.  And the best thing about standardizing and updating LinkedIn profiles is that this initiative will cost you nothing except for the time to develop, train and roll-out a standard template for your employee’s LinkedIn profiles.  LinkedIn even has a new feature where users can upload presentations or other collateral to their LinkedIn profiles and this would be a great way to include a standard marketing deck or product information for your company.

Other ways to leverage LinkedIn include:

  1. Make sure that all employees have a website link and other ways to connect with your company in their profiles
  2. Update your LinkedIn company page frequently with interesting information
  3. Instruct your employees to like and share any content posted on your company page

You can view the entire LinkedIn presentation on the “5 Recruiting Investments You Need To Make in 2014” below and you can watch their webcast at this link.

Changes and Features in the New LinkedIn User Interface

LinkedIn Gets All Dressed Up – (sourced from LinkedIn Blog)

LinkedIn quietly launched a new user interface in March and is slowly rolling it out to their more than 200 million members over the next several months.  This article will look at what’s new in the LinkedIn user interface – including some new features – so you are ready for the changeover, especially as some features have been relocated to new menu items and others have been removed completely.

Current vs. New LinkedIn User Interface – I have copied examples of the Old and New LinkedIn User Interface below.  As you can see, the new interface has a cleaner look with fewer tabs and it even includes some new tabs.  This rest of this article will identify the changes, new features and help you prepare for the new interface.

Old LinkedIn User Interface

New LinkedIn User Interface

Search bar – The search bar is now front and center and besides using icons instead of words for categories, it also has some new features.   If you do not specify what you want to search, LinkedIn will provide matches across whatever categories have matches.  For example, if you type “Recruiting” into the search bar you will get results from Connections, Companies, Groups, Features and Skills.

Profile – The options under the Profile menu item have been drastically reduced in the new interface.    The old interface included the following menu items:  Edit Profile, View Profile, Recommendations, Profile Organizer and Following.  The new interface only has Edit Profile.  To view your profile in the new interface, you simply click on the Profile menu item.

Network – The Network menu in the new interface includes links for Contacts, Add Connections and Find Alumni.  The old menu item for Contacts has been absorbed into the Networks menu.

Jobs – The Jobs tab is still in the new interface but the drop-down menu items in the old interface (Find Jobs, Jobseeker Premium, Post a Job, Manage Your Jobs and Talent Solutions) have been removed.  Clicking on the new Jobs menu item takes you directly to the Jobs page which is the same page if you click on the top Jobs menu item in the old interface.

Interests – Interests is a new menu item and combines the former Companies, Groups and News tabs.  In addition, News is now referred to as Influencers.  The Influencer section is actually worth exploring as LinkedIn is expanding their footprint by turning into a content engine in addition to being the leading business network.

When you click on the Influencer menu item, you are taken to LinkedIn Today which is a compilation of news customized for each individual.  LinkedIn has signed up a number of authors and industry powerhouses to provide unique content directly on this page and I always find an interesting article or two every day.  You can sign up for specific authors or select which channels you would like to populate your LinkedIn Today page.  Clicking on the Like button for any of the articles you read on LinkedIn automatically posts the article as a status update in your newsfeed so all of your connections can see what’s important to you.

What Else is New? – Here is a summary of what else is new in the revised interface:

Search Bar – The Search bar is now front and center in the menu, and besides using icons instead of words for categories, it also has some new features.   If you do not specify what you want to search, LinkedIn will provide matches across whatever categories have matches.  For example, if you type “Recruiting” into the search bar you will get results from Connections, Companies, Groups, Features and Skills.  For categories with Advanced search, the word Advanced appears to the right of the search box (People and Jobs).

Privacy & Settings – The Privacy & Settings menu can now be found by clicking on your LinkedIn picture in the upper right corner of the menu.  Your picture has replaced your name

Inbox – The Inbox has changed from a menu item to an icon in the upper right corner of the menu.  Click on the Envelope icon to access your Invitations and Messages.

Add Connections – There are two ways to add connections in the new interface.  You can select the Network menu item and click on the Add Connections sub-menu item or you can click on the icon next to your picture in the upper right corner.

More Menu Item – The More menu item is gone which directly impacts two key features – Help Center and Skills & Expertise.  You can still reach these pages, but it is not as easy in the new interface as it was in the old interface.  You can always reach Help from the footer at the bottom of every page or by typing in help.linkedin.com.    To get to the Skills & Expertise page, you will need to search for skills by typing a skill into the search bar or type in the URL to access the Skills homepage – http://www.linkedin.com/skills/.

All in all, the changes in the new LinkedIn user interface will make it easier to use in the long run, but you may experience some initial confusion when your account is transition to the new interface.

Build a Better LinkedIn Profile

[One of my more successful blog posts has been 5 Ways to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile from July 2008 and I updated the blog post in November 2009 with a post called 5 Ways to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile – Advanced Edition.  While working on a social recruiting project for AppleOne – my current employer – I have come up with new instructions for building a better LinkedIn profile.  This post is my latest thinking on what makes a great LinkedIn profile]

LinkedIn is the premier professional networking website and currently has over 175 million users worldwide and more than 80 million users in the US.  LinkedIn is the de facto destination for maintaining your electronic professional profile and it is important to keep it up-to-date throughout your working life — whether you are currently employed and especially, if you are seeking a new position.

The best starting point with LinkedIn is to make sure that your profile is up-to-date and has outstanding “curb-appeal”.  Just like when people are selling a house, they spend time to make their property appealing by adding a fresh coat of paint, mowing the grass and sprucing up the interior.  In a similar manner, you want to do the same thing with your LinkedIn profile.  With LinkedIn, you are essentially advertising your brand and your skills, and a complete profile makes people trust you more which will increase the likelihood that they will want to connect with you.  Even if you have been on LinkedIn for a while, the following tips will make give your profile more “curb-appeal” and set you up for higher success.

By following these ten steps, you will be able to differentiate your profile from your competitors and make it easier for you to grow your network.  Most users should be able to follow these steps and update their profile in about an hour.

1.  Add a professional picture
When you have a picture in your profile, you come across as more believable and people tend to connect more readily when they visualize what you look like.  They are also more likely to reach out to you as your photo helps to personalize and humanize your personal brand.  It is important to select an appealing photo that strikes the right image and professional tone.  Remember, your profile represents you AND the company you work for.

2.  Write a strong headline
After your picture, your headline is the next thing that a user will see.  By default, your headline is the job title from your latest position – but that does not really tell people much about yourself.  You want to create a great first impression and the headline is the place to do.

3.  Write a compelling summary
The summary section is best described as an overview for the rest of your profile – by providing the highlights of who you are, what you do and why someone should connect with you.  You want to leave a lasting impression and one way to do that is to add in excerpts from your company’s corporate mission statement and marketing messages into your summary.  There is also a Specialties section in the Summary where you can list a number of key words that describe you and your career and can include titles, names of companies, skills, industries, strengths, etc.

4.  Add your company websites
LinkedIn lets you add up to three websites to your profile and you want to make it easy for people to find links to what is important to you.  At a minimum, you should add your company’s primary website and you may want to add a link to the company’s careers site, social media page, a personal blog or a profile on another site.

5.  Update your public profile URL
By default, LinkedIn assigns your profile with a URL that includes part of your name and some random numbers and slashes.  Smart LinkedIn users know that they can get a personalized public profile URL which makes the link easier to remember and share with others—plus, it raises the visibility of your brand on Google searches.  The good news is that getting a custom LinkedIn URL takes less than a minute and is one of the easiest profile upgrades you can do.

6.  Document your work history
When you are documenting your work history, be sure to include a brief description of the company and your key tasks and accomplishments.  Add a bulleted list of your key responsibilities and accomplishments and be sure to include key words.  You can also note any accomplishments such as earned achievements and awards.

7.  Add at least 10 keywords in the Skills & Expertise section
The Skills and Expertise section is where you can highlight your strengths.  When you add a skill you can also identify your proficiency (Beginner to Expert) and the number of years of experience you have with that skill.  After you add a skill to your profile, you can click on the skill to go to the LinkedIn Skills & Expertise discovery tool (http://www.linkedin.com/skills/) where LinkedIn provides a description of that skill and suggests similar or related skills.  You can add up to 50 skills, so try to add as many relevant skills and expertise to improve your findability in LinkedIn searches.

8.  Document your education
Make sure you document your college education and majors under the Education section.  If you add the years when you were in college, it makes it easier to connect with others whose college experience overlapped yours.   Do not forget to add in your collegiate activities and societies.  By the way, it is not necessary to add in your high school education.

9.  Join at least 4 groups and update your Interests and Honors
LinkedIn has more than one million different groups organized around professions, geographies and interests.  LinkedIn Groups provide an excellent way for you to connect with others, gather information and brand yourself as a subject matter expert.     To find a group, go to the Search bar and select Groups and then type in your search criteria.  By the way, LinkedIn lets you join up to 50 groups—and you should join at least four groups as a starter.

10.  Review and update your privacy settings
LinkedIn experts say that you should control LinkedIn and not let it control you.  In the privacy settings, you can set how often you receive emails from your groups, who can see your connections, who can contact you and other productivity enhancements.  Be sure to review your settings by clicking on your name in the upper right corner of the LinkedIn homepage.  Another way to get people to trust you more is to change the visibility of your connections so only you can see them.

What Does Your LinkedIn Network Look Like?

LinkedIn came out with a cool new feature called LinkedIn InMaps. The feature was described in a blog post on the LinkedIn blog on Monday.

“InMaps is an interactive visual representation of your professional universe that answers all of the above questions.  It’s a great way to understand the relationships between you and your entire set of LinkedIn connections. With it you can better leverage your professional network to help pass along job opportunities, seek professional advice, gather insights, and more.”

It is a very interesting way to visually view the connections in your network.  For instance, I have a huge clump of contacts from iRise where I worked from 2005 to 2008 and another reasonably-sized chunk from my time at Treasury Services/Oracle from 1995 to 2002.  And then I have my social media connections that I acquired from working with the team at Mzinga.  Finally, there are a scattering of one-off or totally unrelated contacts.

You can also view a full size version of my network from this URL.  This exercise is very worthwhile even it if only reminds you of people you used to interact with more frequently.  But it can also be a very valuable tool for discovering hidden insights from your network.

Are You Hiring the Right Social Media Horses?

And how do would you know if you are?

In the Inbound Marketing book by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah that I reviewed last week, one of my most favorite chapters was called Picking and Measuring People.  Their position is that in an era of inbound marketing, hiring criteria and performance measurement must adapt to how marketing is changing.  They suggest a framework which they simplify with the acronym DARC.  If you want to learn more about their framework, there is a free chapter excerpt titled “Hiring in the DARC Ages” which is available on their book site.

DARC stands for:

D = hire DIGITAL Citizens.

A = hire people for their ANALYTICAL chops.

R = hire people with web REACH.

C = hire people who can create remarkable CONTENT.

While their initial premise is very good, Halligan and Shah provide an overly simplistic measurement table in the book which looks at just 4 factors.  I think they ran out of gas at the end of their book and it appears that they punted rather than develop a more robust measurement device.

Here are their factors and my critique for each one:

  • LinkedIn Followers – this is a good measure, but it doesn’t really tell how connected a person is or how they present themselves on LinkedIn.  Personally, I’m wary of people who either have too many or too few connections and any figure between 150 and 500 shows that a person is a Digital Citizen and has Reach.
  • Twitter Grade – of course, Halligan and Shah are going to use their own Twitter Grader rating.  But I am doubtful of some of the Twitter Grader results especially when a company account I follow can get a score of over 90 when they haven’t tweeted in over 2 months, the account is barely 6 months old and they only have 148 followers.
  • Facebook Grade – again, Facebook Grader is a Hubspot product that has only graded about 45,000 Facebook users so the raw outcome is also suspect.  For example, my Facebook Grade is 52 which means my profile is better than 52% of the people who have been graded.
  • Blog Subscribers – I’ve been blogging for three years and I don’t know how many subscribers I have because it isn’t something that is important to me.  I do know which posts are more popular and I know that my traffic has been trending up on a month over month basis.  Focusing on just blog subscribers is also a limited way to judge someone’s DARC quotient when you should really be focusing on content and consistency as well.

The industry needs a better measurement mechanism and being someone with analytical chops, I have come up with what I think is a much better way to measure the DARC factor of a job candidate or current marketing employee.  This may not be the ultimate Inbound Marketing scoring mechanism, but it is a credible stake in the ground and I welcome any comments.

My scoring spreadsheet is broken into major categories of blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Other Platforms.  For each category, I ask a series of questions that are graded on a 0 to 5 scale which is better than trying to compare if 300 or 400 connections is better since they are probably both the same.  I have also added 4 columns to identify which DARC criteria is met with each question.  I am still light on the Analytical dimension which is a hard category to quantify, but is an easy skill that can be tested.

The PDF of the spreadsheet has been uploaded to Slideshare and has been embedded below:

In their book, Halligan and Shah say that it is an “ideal hire” when you find someone who possesses all 4 skills (a “4-tooled” player from baseball lingo) because there are not very many of these people around yet.  If you are a smaller company, you should try to get as many qualities in one person as you can.  And by the way, I consider myself to be one of those “4-tooled’ players and not just because I developed the measurement matrix above.  Check me out for yourself.