If you’re a fairly experienced LinkedIn user, or have ever attended one of my LinkedIn workshops/webinars, you’ve probably heard me point out that the single greatest benefit of joining “Groups” on LinkedIn is the ability you then gain to “Send a Message” to fellow Group members, for free, without having to pay a fee (InMail) or route your message through an intermediary.

For years, this has been an extremely useful feature, and one of the key reasons I generally advise LinkedIn users to join at least 5-10 relevant Groups, at minimum, related to their industry and professional interests.  It just breaks down lots of walls and lets you communicate with tens of thousands of other users, quickly and conveniently.

Fast forward to the last few weeks, however, and you may have noticed that suddenly the “Send a Message” option has disappeared entirely!  Pull somebody’s profile up and you’ll no longer see this communication option, even if you happen to belong in a shared Group with the individual.  When I first noticed this the other day, I immediately wondered “What’s happened?  Is this a temporary bug?  Or another attempt by LinkedIn to boost revenues and force people to pay for premium memberships?”

After a little bit of detective work, what I discovered is that LinkedIn killed this feature for the “stated” reason of cutting down on fraud, scams, and abuse.  I personally still suspect it had more to do for profitability reasons.  But regardless, I figured out that you actually CAN still send a free message to fellow Group members, if you happen to know where to look!  They’ve now hidden this feature several layers deep.  Here are the steps involved:

1)  Click the “Groups” button on the top LinkedIn menu bar
2)  Open up the Group page in question you share with the person
3)  Scroll through the “Members” tab until you find the target individual
4)  Hover your mouse over their name and a “Send a Message” link will appear on the far right side of the screen
5)  Click on this button, compose your message, and fire it off!

Given all of these clunky new steps, there’s no question that the amount of inter-group messaging on the system is going to be cut down by a significant degree, but at least you now know you still have this option at your disposal — in case you need it!