For the last several months it seems like the world’s largest professional social network has had non-stop changes and upgrades. LinkedIn has been slowly rolling out some huge changes, not only to the look and layout, but also upgrading key features such as Advanced Search and the addition of LinkedIn Contacts.
I feel that this update could potentially be the most significant to B2B businesses in the short history of social media thus far. Contacts brings an intelligent experience with the needs of business in mind inside every feature and will feel like the missing link in your LinkedIn marketing strategy once you get your hands on it.
Here are nine things you should know about the new LinkedIn Contacts section and how it can benefit you.
1. LinkedIn Contacts – Getting Started
If you are unsure of which changes I am referring to, this is likely because the changes have yet to roll out to your region. As most new upgrades happen with the big social networks, these changes began as a very limited release in the US.
It will be sometime before it is fully released, but you can now speed up the process and add yourself to the wait list for the new LinkedIn Contacts. Once your name is on the list, you may have a wait of about week before you too can enjoy the new LinkedIn Contacts feature.
While logged into LinkedIn, go to http://contacts.linkedin.com and click the Get Started button to be added to the wait list if it hasn’t yet been rolled out to your profile.
Once the new Contacts section has been added to your LinkedIn account, you will find a message on the Contacts page telling you it has been added.
Once you have clicked the button you will see a popup letting you know that your connections are being moved into the new Contacts section. Depending on the size of your LinkedIn network, this could take a while.
You may also notice that your Tags and Folders from Profile Organizer (if you are a LinkedIn Premium member) are missing at first. These will take longer to appear. You may need to wait a day or so, depending on the size of your LinkedIn network.
2. LinkedIn Contacts Page
One of the first changes you will notice is the banner at the top of the page. LinkedIn encourages its users to stay in contact with their connections by keeping important events such as birthdays and business anniversaries top of mind.
You can easily access this banner by clicking on Your Day, located below All Contacts on the LinkedIn Contacts page.
You can also filter your LinkedIn connections on this or any other page within Contacts using six different filters available, which include:
- Recent Conversations
- Newly Added
- Lost touch
There are a number of ways that you can interact with your LinkedIn connections on the page. You can modify your connection’s Tags, send them a message, add them to the hidden folder or remove them.
Benefits: Easily locate LinkedIn connections that you have communicated with recently using the Recent Conversations filter or find connections you have not connected with for a while using the Lost Touch filter.
Tip: Take advantage of the Your Day feature and use it to help you build your relationship with your existing connections by sending them a personal message acknowledging their special day or achievement.
3. LinkedIn Tags
LinkedIn remains one of the best places to make connections and develop relationships for B2B markets. The LinkedIn Tags feature helps you to take advantage of this by being able to save and categorize any existing or potential connections that would make either a great partnership or be an ideal client while searching your network.
The new Tags feature is a combination of the old Tags feature from Contacts and the Profile Organizer from LinkedIn Premium. Every member (free and paid) can now create up to 50 unique Tags to help them sort and keep track of their contacts. Great for not only organizing, Tags are an ideal tool to use for Outreach Campaigns. You can access the Tags from the Contact page as well as directly on any individual’s profile.
Another way to access Tags is directly within a member’s profile page. On this page you can not only see and modify what Tags a connection is saved in but also your recent email communications, any notes you have added, how you met and daily, weekly, monthly or recurring reminders you have set.
Benefits: The new LinkedIn Tags include a feature that used to be available to paying members only in Profile Organizer. This feature is the ability to save and Tag people who are not already your 1st level connections. This allows you to create a list of people in your network that you want to send connection requests or InMail messages to.
Tips: Create an Outreach Campaign or LinkedIn marketing strategy to connect and build relationships with potential or existing connections. As you move through your strategy or follow up process with a connection, you can easily keep track of where you are in the process with them by moving them through a series of Tags created for that campaign. The Notes and Reminder features in their LinkedIn profile is also useful for this.
4. Companies & Title
Two other ways that you can easily scan through your LinkedIn connections are by Companies and Job Title. If, for example, you are looking to connect with a certain level of person within a company, perhaps the CEO, you can click on Titles in the left column.
If you are connected to any members who are a CEO, you will see the title CEO and number of contacts that fit that description show up in the list. Click on the title to enter the list and view your LinkedIn connections. Companies work in the same way, allowing you to see everyone you are connected to within a certain company.
Benefits: Use Title and Companies to quickly scan through your contacts to find your connections with a specific title or company.
Tips: It is common to see some version of a company name like “Self Employed” and “Freelancer” as well the title of “Owner” and “Founder” found on these pages. How often do you search for these terms when you are looking to connect with someone? Try to avoid using these words in your LinkedIn profile and instead use descriptive keywords your ideal client would use to search for you in your headline, summary, your title and other areas of your profile.
While not a new feature, the Locations page is useful for any business that can benefit from having their LinkedIn connections sorted by area. What is new to this feature is that you can now see a map at the top that shows where your connections are located.
It also includes how many locations your connections are found in and in how many different counties they are from. Below the map is the list of all of the different locations, each location listing the number of connections located within it.
A good example of how this can be used would be, for example, a speaker who is going to be presenting at an event in Toronto, Canada. The speaker would then go to Locations and click on Toronto in the list. They could then make a plan to reach out and connect with all or part of the list, as appropriate, and let their connections know about the event in the area.
Benefits: As you look through the locations to see where your LinkedIn connections are from, you may discover regions with potential to include in your outreach campaigns that you had not considered before.
Tips: If you are running an outreach campaign or event in a targeted area, be sure to look for different variations of a location. For example, you may have contacts in Toronto, Canada Area as well as Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
6. Cleaning Up Existing LinkedIn Contacts
It is now easier than ever to clean up your contact list on LinkedIn. They have added and improved a number of features to make this much more efficient, especially for people with large networks. LinkedIn has also greatly improved their Remove Connection feature. Any unwanted connections can now be quickly removed from both the Contacts page and a member’s profile page.
Potential Merges is a new feature that identifies possible duplicate accounts for a contact. From this page you can select the accounts that you believe to be doubled and merge them into one contact. This feature can be a bit finicky for people with large networks and may timeout.
The Hidden feature was created as a way to make your list of contacts more manageable. This feature will automatically hide any connection that LinkedIn thinks is not important to you. While these connections will show up in your searches, they won’t show up in your lists. The good news is you can hide or unhide a connection at anytime. You can also remove multiple connections on this page.
Benefits: Where it was once tedious for people with large networks to remove unwanted connections from their LinkedIn network, it is now a quick and easy process from both the Contacts page and a member’s profile page.
Tips: It is a good idea to clean up your existing Contact list before adding any new contacts to your LinkedIn network.
7. Adding New Contacts
A powerful new feature for your LinkedIn marketing arsenal is the ability to add your address book and calendar from a number of platforms.
Once your existing list is cleaned up, you are ready to start adding your contacts from other platforms. Platforms fall under three headings:
- Emails, Contacts, & Calendars
- Contacts File Imports
Examples of these three include your Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook contacts and calendars, contacts from your CardMunch and Evernote or csv or vcard imports from your Outlook or Mac mail.
To begin adding contacts, click on the word Settings found in the top right corner of the LinkedIn Contacts page. From here you can click on the sync, download or import buttons to start the process of adding them to your LinkedIn Contacts.
Benefits: Store and update all of your address books and calendars in one place with this new feature.
Tips: Make sure your address book is as up-to-date as possible before syncing, downloading or importing them.
8. LinkedIn on Mobile
LinkedIn members can gain easy access to their contacts and calendars through LinkedIn’s standalone mobile app. At the time of writing this, it is available for iPhone only, but they are currently working on an Android and mobile web version.
Benefits: Have quick and easy access to all of your contacts and be able to update them while on the go.
Tips: When connecting with your iPhone contacts after uploading them, make sure you send out a personalized connection request to each contact rather than sending the standard message in bulk. LinkedIn members with large networks will also want to think twice before downloading their LinkedIn contacts list into their iPhone address book.
9. Pitfalls and LinkedIn Premium
While most of the changes to LinkedIn Contacts are helpful and improve the user experience, not all are seen as positive. The first downside to pop up is the loss of the ability to send out bulk messages to your Tag lists (up to 50 at a time). There is speculation around whether this feature will be re-added in the future but there is no official word.
The second issue is for those who have purchased a LinkedIn premium membership because of the Profile Organizer feature. With the new LinkedIn Tags taking over this feature and being available to all members, free and paid, some LinkedIn Premium members may need to rethink if it is still worth the money to continue paying for a membership.
What do you think? Do you like the new changes to LinkedIn Contacts or find them helpful? Leave your questions and comments below.