The LinkedIn Facelift
In November 2009, LinkedIn began tinkering with a redesign of its website. The result was a much cleaner, more Facebook-like Home page. A global navigation bar at the top of the page takes you to your profile, your contacts list, your groups, job listings, your inbox, and other features. The center of the page is taken up with a column of members' status updates. Other features and a bit of advertising take up a column on the right.
One of the most elegant interface changes implemented by LinkedIn can be seen in the way it now allows you to access your contact information. Hover your cursor over “Contacts” to activate a drop-down menu, and click “My Connections.” You'll open a page that provides a column of mini-profiles of your connections that include a picture and their current positions. It's a nice view for scrolling quickly through your contact list to see if anyone has changed jobs.
What is the OpenLink Network?
If you pay for the Business Plus or Pro premium accounts, you have access to the OpenLink Network. This network within a network provides an additional level of access to LinkedIn members interested in meeting new people. Essentially, it allows unlimited direct contacts, via OpenLink messages, to anyone else with the service.
Clicking on a mini-profile opens an expanded view of that contact that shows the number of his connections and new contacts, e-mail address, and tags. Clicking the e-mail opens your e-mail so you can send your contact a message that way; clicking on “Send a Message” takes you to an in-mail message form. Clicking on “Edit tags” allows you to not only select or deselect from the standard tag group (classmates, colleagues, friends, group members, and partners), but add a custom tag. You also have access here to your contact's contacts.
A menu on the left tells you how many contacts you have by company, location, industry, recent activity, and even tags. You can see how many people in your contact list you've indentified as colleagues, for example, or how many work for IBM, are located in your city, or work in public relations. You can also see how many of your contacts are new, and how many of your contacts have new contacts. From here you can also import contacts, organize profiles into folders, add notes to contact information, and track important profiles in a dedicated workspace.
The Home page also includes a Status Update window that's very similar to what you see on Facebook. This optional feature allows you to post a status update, which LinkedIn says is driven by the question, “What are you working on?” (On Facebook, it's the answer to the question, “What's on your mind?”)
You can choose how many people see your status updates. LinkedIn allows you to make your status visible to your connections, your network, or everyone who visits your public profile. If you allow your connections to see your updates, they are posted on their home pages under Network Activity. Those connections may then comment on your status.
LinkedIn is now integrated with the Twitter microblogging service — which means you can send a tweet from your Home page. You link the two accounts from the Edit Profile page. Just click on “Add Twitter account” and follow the prompts. Once you've linked the two accounts, a Twitter icon will appear next to the status update box. Now you simply enter your 140-character message and click the icon, and it will appear in the twitterstream. The link between the two accounts also allows you to update your LinkedIn status through Twitter.