6 Essential LinkedIn Features Your Business Should Be Using

When LinkedIn revamped its “Who’s viewed my profile” feature in 2014, it was one of their biggest updates since the platform became essential to networking and job hunting. (Seriously, can you imagine LinkedIn without it now?)

A lot has changed at LinkedIn since we originally published this post – like a major desktop UX overhaul, a powerful new search, the addition of messaging bots… oh, and Microsoft’s acquisition of the company (totally nbd).

So we’ve updated this post to include a rundown of the latest LinkedIn features that are most important to know, and what they mean for you and your business.

If you’ve ever asked yourself what the actual point of LinkedIn even is (aside from slyly or overtly looking for a new job), read on!

There’s a big difference between being somewhere and actually DOING something while you’re there.

You can sit with your laptop all day and not do anything but cruise blogs and watch Netflix. You can go to the gym, do one or two crunches, and spend the next hour chilling at the juice bar. And you can create a LinkedIn profile, and then not spend any time actually doing anything on the site.

As you can probably guess, if you aren’t actually DOING stuff, then you’re not necessarily going to get much out of being somewhere – LinkedIn included.

Look, we get it. LinkedIn is one of the single most un-sexy social networks in the world, right? You’re not going to go there to check out your buddy’s vacation photos or to find a hilaaaaarious YouTube video. You’re going to go there to do BUSINESS STUFF. (Yawn.)

So while a lot of people are ON LinkedIn – it’s got more than 467 million users worldwide – they aren’t all necessarily USING it. They just kind of create their profile and let it sit there, like an online resume.

(Please don’t let yours just sit there, for that matter don’t let any of your social profile sit vacantly, instead head over to our platform-tailored guides to social media to learn how to keep your profiles fresh.)

If it’s been a while since you thought too hard about LinkedIn, though, there are features you may have missed – and could change how you think about what this network is really for!

So what’s the deal, and what do LinkedIn’s newest features mean for your business?

The New LinkedIn Search

In tandem with their complete desktop redesign – which basically just made its UX more clean and streamlined, like their mobile app – LinkedIn rolled out navigation tabs (Home [Your Feed], Messaging, Jobs, Notifications, Me, My Network, and Search) and a universal search bar that appears on every page across the site.

Why you should care
The new search bar is more than just one small part of a site-wide facelift. With it, LinkedIn upped their search game (more on that in a moment).

The new search bar lets users easily search whatever page they’re on – Companies, Schools, People – with the goal of giving you better, more targeted results from your search. Pretty nice!

LinkedIn has also added the ability for users to receive email or mobile notifications for specific key terms – like job function, company, or job title.

LinkedIn job search page

Alerts are GREAT if you’re on the hunt for a new job (natch) or if you want to be notified when companies or people you follow post updates – instead of doing the old wait-scroll-and-be-lucky on your feed.

Which gets us to what’s REALLY cool about the new LinkedIn Search – how it’s poised to change the way you use social media for your business.

Content Search

Trying to find an article that popped up on your news feed but was lost when you clicked away is one of life’s tiny tragedies – and the scourge of almost every social media platform.

Content Search aims to solve that, adding hashtag functionality (and hashtag search!) and other enhanced search features that help you find not only “lost” articles, but also more relevant-to-your-interests ones.

(LinkedIn’s also fine-tuned their feed to better surface what’s of most interest to you.)

Why you should care
Content Search should mean a lot less “why are they showing me this” and a lot more “oh, wow, this is really cool!” This probably doesn’t sound like that big of a deal for your business, but here’s why it is:

The advantage of LinkedIn’s news feed, as opposed to Facebook’s or even Twitter’s, is that it is populated with articles and information exclusively according to your business interests. No videos of your cousins playing golf somewhere tropical, no cute puppy dog GIFs.

Business dog GIFs are another thing entirely

Making it easier to find the most relevant-to-your-business content means you get better and more targeted networking opportunities, timely and relevant industry updates, and maybe even a sweet new gig! (If you’re looking for that sort of thing, that is – we won’t tell.)

LinkedIn Learning

With an eye on the exploding popularity of online learning sites like Udemy, LinkedIn acquired Lynda.com in 2015 and has quietly been helping users get their learn on ever since.

Why you should care
LinkedIn Learning isn’t just a bunch of well-meaning randoms posting “how-to” videos.

A moment of silence for those unsung celebrities who helped us learn Windows ’95

What makes LinkedIn Learning (potentially) indispensable is that it leverages LinkedIn’s ridiculously awesome network of influencers and thought leaders (over 500 of them!) and their expert career advice.

Everyone from Oprah to best-selling author and business leader Bill George is on LinkedIn Learning. But that’s not where all this ends.

LinkedIn Learning screenshot

Ultimately, LinkedIn wants to give users more personalized opportunities for e-learning: There’s a metaphorical ton of variety in their online courses – with info that goes both broad and deep.

So “learning” can mean leveling up your existing skill set, getting a jump on some cutting edge marketing tactics, or simply gaining wisdom about your industry from people who are seriously rockin’ it.

Messaging Bots (No, Really)

Okay, you’re probably wondering why you should care about messaging bots. It’s likely you’ve already encountered messaging bots (sometimes called “chatbots”), even if you didn’t realize it – especially if you’re a regular Skype or Facebook Messengeruser.

Whether we like it or not, bots are here to stay. But you may not know that bots already matter to small businesses – and will even more in the future.

Why you should care
LinkedIn’s reasoning goes something like this: Your connections are only as good as the interactions you have with them. If you’re not talking, you’re not making the most out of your network – and LinkedIn wants to make the process easier. Makes sense, right?

Right now, that means conversation starters for your LinkedIn messages.

A key component of linking in with someone is smoothly making the transition from stranger to acquaintance, and from acquaintance to colleague – and these messages help a ton.

Whether you’re trying to connect with an influencer you’re inspired by or want to get in touch with that alum who has an “in” with a networking group you’ve been dying to join, these help make that whole effort, well, effortless!

Optimizing Your Original Content (Finally!)

If you used to publish original LinkedIn articles and found the platform’s lack of customization and tracking too frustrating, this might be the new hotness to bring you back. Seriously – this might be the most underrated improvement LinkedIn has made since its launch.

Why you should care
This is a quality vs. quantity thing. It’s the nature of LinkedIn – as a business networking tool – that makes your original content REALLY stand out. Here’s how:

Now when you publish new content on LinkedIn, your first-degree connections get a LinkedIn notification or an email (and often both). It also means more opportunities to get your content featured by LinkedIn to reach even more people.

LinkedIn is where people go to expand their network. Everyone there is specifically at the party to meet people, and that has been made even easier now that LinkedIn has added multimedia capabilities with better publishing UX – and even searchable hashtags so your posts can be part of bigger conversations. #omg #ftw #sogood #yassss

LinkedIn content publishing animated .gif

Those are no minor additions, either: With new reader metrics and tracking, now you can really see and understand your audience and how they interact with your posts.

With these changes, and a growing list of authors already numbering in the millions, LinkedIn is looking a lot less like a niche platform and lot more like a business-y version of Medium – and a darn-near essential destination for entrepreneurs.

How’s that for content optimization?

Navigating the New Who’s Viewed Your Profile Page
(Now Called “Who Your Viewers Are”)

On this page, you used to see a box with four tabs, like so:

LinkedIn’s Newest Feature

But LinkedIn’s desktop UX update removed all those nifty-looking metrics and replaced them with more of a broad activity snapshot, like so:

LinkedIn's Newest Feature - who your viewers are
The content is similar, but much less granular – and a click around on the tabs to the left reveals some pretty hefty feature-gating (meaning, they really want you to upgrade to Premium):

LinkedIn who your viewers are screenshot

No longer can you see how people are finding your profile in any great detail. You still can get a basic idea of the path they took to get to your profile (via their company, job title, whether they messaged you or found you via the LinkedIn homepage).

But that’s about it – no more breakout by the search terms they used to find you, no more detailed geographical stats.

Why you should care
LinkedIn’s new focus is on getting users to make the most of a major redesign “that brings conversations and content to the heart of the platform.”

To that end, the top right of your “Who your viewers are” page now features links to the three core ways to engage and connect using LinkedIn: your profile, your network, and your news feed:

LinkedIn screenshot - profile views matter

Yes, this is LinkedIn reminding you to make sure your profile is up-to-date, encouraging you to add more connections, and prodding you to interact with your feed.

Is it still frustratingly incomplete? Yes. Is it helpful, though? Still yes! The more you interact with your feed and with your network, and the more you optimize your LinkedIn profile, the more those metrics on the left should keep going up, up, up!

What Have You Noticed?

Go ahead – take LinkedIn’s new features for a spin, and let us know what you think!

Do you notice a significant correlation between your activity and your profile views? Do you wish you could still see metrics like how many people found you via the homepage – and where in the world they came from?

Do these changes make you want to use LinkedIn more or less? Share your thoughts in the comments below!