I’m a big LinkedIn fan.
I’ve been using it for the better part of the last 10 years, first as a recruiter and now as someone who trains others how best to use it personally and professionally.
I’ve never liked, though, that LinkedIn makes it hard for people to see and do things that should be more prominent on the site. Others agree that LinkedIn isn’t user-friendly—and that’s not what you’d expect from a social network that’s going on 14 years.
I’m going to lift the veil on some lesser-known but helpful LinkedIn features:
1. Personalizing LinkedIn invitations
I have no idea why LinkedIn won’t make it easier to personalize invitations. The way it’s currently set up discourages engagement between users.
If you click the blue “connect” button just about anywhere on LinkedIn, it will automatically send the “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message with no rationale for making the connection.
If you’re on someone’s profile (on a Web browser), and click the button there, then you’ll see the option to personalize your invitation as shown in the image here. (If you’re on mobile and on someone’s profile, click the ellipsis in the top right corner to personalize your invitation.) None of this is intuitive, though.
2. Replying to invitations from people and seeing whether they sent a personalized message
When you hover over the pending invitations icon and click “Pending invitations,” you get a page with photos of the people who have sent you invites. You don’t see a message from them, though, do you?
Why? Because to see if they wrote a personalized message, you have to click the little quotes. Do so, and an expanded window will open.
What makes this even worse is if someone wrote you a personalized message that you never saw because you just clicked “accept” or “ignore” instead of hitting the little quotes.
I can’t imagine the number of times personalized messages are being completely missed because of this hidden feature. It discourages engagement and is not intuitive.
3. Updating your privacy and other settings
Did you even know it was possible to change your privacy settings? Most people don’t.
The settings are hidden underneath your small profile picture in the top right corner. You have to hover over this little image to see privacy settings and other options.
4. Identifying and managing your active sessions
If you go into Privacy & Settings and click on “Account,” you’ll see “Where you’re signed in.”
When I did it, I had 10 active LinkedIn sessions-and one was from three months prior.
You can easily sign out of unwanted active sessions here, too.
5. Prioritizing top updates vs. recent updates
Like any effective LinkedIn user, I spend time engaging with my connections by viewing/liking/commenting on their updates when they appear in my home feed.
Little did I know that LinkedIn defaults to “top updates” instead of “recent updates.”
If you click “home” and look right under “publish a post,” you’ll see an ellipsis, just as you see in this image above. Select “recent updates.” I found there were several updates from my network that I wasn’t seeing because of the default “top updates” setup.
Even more annoying is that if you click away from the home page to another part of LinkedIn and then come back, your feed defaults back to top updates.
I’m not a fan of having social networks (Facebook does this, too) choose what they think I want to see instead of the other way around.
6. Using the relationship tab
When you’re on the profile page of one of your connections, tucked right underneath his or her photo is the “relationship” tab.
From here, you can jot down notes about people, set follow-up reminders and tag them (put them in a category such as “prospects”), so they can be included, and sorted, among your contacts.
In summary, LinkedIn is great for connecting with people in business, finding mutual acquaintances, and finding and sharing terrific content. Still, those running the platform should make the user experience more intuitive and stop forcing people to click around if they want to find its valuable features.
What other hidden features have you found on LinkedIn? What recommendations do you have to help platform programmers improve the end user experience? Please share your comments below.