Boy, with all the LinkedIn classes I’ve been teaching lately and all the changes the site has been making, the “tips” have been piling up!  So rather than write about each of them individually, let me just bundle them all together, below, for those of you who are constantly seeking new ways to utilize and leverage the tool effectively…

1) The Career Horizons Client & Alumni Group

Among the thousands of Groups one can potentially join on LinkedIn, I’d welcome any of my blog readers to consider joining my “Career Horizons Clients & Alumni” group on the site, if you haven’t done so already.  All you have to do is visit the LinkedIn Groups menu, click on the “Groups Directory” page, type the name of my Group in, and then you can “join” it.  While I’ll confess that nothing all that amazing ever happens in this group, in terms of interactive discussions and such, being a part of it instantly gives you the benefit of being able to communicate with hundreds of other members of my “community” without needing to route your message through somebody else.

2)  Key Etiquette Faux Pas: Unpersonalized Invitations

Despite reams of advice out there to the contrary, far too many rookie LinkedIn users are still sending connection invites out to people without hitting the button that allows you to “personalize” the invite note and add a few courteous thoughts.  This not only reduces the chances of somebody accepting your invitation, especially if you don’t know them all that well, but it also sends off the signal (at least to experienced users) that you’re a tad bit lazy, rude, or just don’t really understand how to use the site correctly.  So please avoid using the built-in LinkedIn message templates, whenever you can help it.  Always take the time to write a few customized thoughts in your invitations and introductions that add context to your memo — and show the person that you care about your relationship with them.

3) Free LinkedIn Usage Vs. Premium Subscriptions

While LinkedIn constantly adds new “Premium” features to the mix, I still hold to my belief that the vast majority of LinkedIn users (including myself) don’t actually need to become paid members.  It’s not that I begrudge LinkedIn one dime whatsoever, but when I review the extra benefits provided to the folks who purchase subscriptions, I still don’t see anything all that critical unless you’re a diehard recruiter or sales professional who will be using the site dozens of times each day.  All the rest of the functionality (including the “Job Search Premium” package and the new set of “beta” search options on the People Search page) are either not that important, from my perspective, or something a savvy user can already figure out how to do for free.

4)  Hiding Messages from “Network Update” Abusers

While a minor thing, perhaps, some of you might have noticed that some of your connections update their status on the site almost every day — or fire off barrages of messages centered around some fairly trivial things you don’t care much to read about.  If any of this gets to be an annoyance, all you have to do is move your cursor over to the top right corner of one of the person’s updates and a “hide” box will appear that lets you block any further updates from them.  I hope you never need to use this feature, but it’s an option, if you ever need it!

5)  The New “Companies” Page Design

Bravo, LinkedIn!  I just noticed you’ve overhauled the page of information that comes up when one looks up an organization on the “Companies” page — and I find this new format to be MUCH more engaging, well-organized, and informative.  The larger photos really make the information “pop” and the new tab you’ve added, calling special attention to the “new hires” at each company, is terrific!