I like LinkedIn. I have been using it since 2004. When I first started using it, my primary purpose was to build my network (ie adding industry connections) and to start building my personal profile (in case I wanted to take advantage of LinkedIn's job hunting tools).
Fast forward to today (11 years later...yikes!) . LinkedIn has evolved. I like the new look + feel. I like the mobile app. I think the communication tools (like InMail) are good. I definitely see more activity on the site (but mainly in the form of Likes or Congrats). The one main constant with LinkedIn has been its focus on job hunters and HR recruiters. Makes sense -- these two areas have been the core of LinkedIn. However, I think it should start paying more attention to folks who are not looking for a job but want to leverage LinkedIn to build their professional network in other ways.
A better way of putting this is that I wish LinkedIn struck a better balance between catering to users looking for a job and catering to users who are happy in their job but want to maximize their career by better utilizing their LinkedIn network. I am a member of this latter group. I feel like there has got to be other ways to better tap all the great resources on LinkedIn. To better illustrate this point, I put together a list of features I wish existed on LinkedIn. If some of these features actually exist, let me know. :)
1. There are several features on LinkedIn that play to our ego. Things like "Who Viewed Your Profile", "Endorsements", and "Recommendations". "Endorsements" and "Recommendations" highlight our strengths and "Who Has Viewed Your Profile" really targets your ego (ohhh..look who checked me out!). I thought it was interesting when Endorsements first launched but the value of it is still fuzzy to me. When I endorse you, how does it help you? I have no idea. I think LinkedIn should have this feature carry more weight. For example. maybe combine Endorsements with Recommendations. Make it one feature -> make endorsements part of the act of Recommending someone. Or, if you get 100+ endorsements, that should make you rank higher in LinkedIn search for that specific skill or get some other professional benefit.
2. One area that remains an issue on LinkedIn is cold calls. In other words, lets say I want to connect with your company because I am interested in developing a partnership. Lets also assume I have zero relationship with you. I am literally starting from zero. What do I do? I send you an invite to connect. But in that invite, I have to basically state how I know you and then it goes downhill from there. The solution to "cold calling" is InMail. These are more flexible emails I can send to you to outline my business goal and, ideally, make a better introduction/impression. I have to pay for these type of emails by upgrading my LinkedIn plan. Yes - on one side LinkedIn has recognized this issue and is trying to use it as a trigger for people to upgrade. I think using this specific issue to force upgrades takes away from the true potential of LinkedIn. Lets face it, if I am not on LinkedIn to find a job, I am on LinkedIn to get business done. LinkedIn should make 5 InMails free for standard (ie free plan) LinkedIn users per month. Two reasons for this. First reason -> I see people every day working around this issue by jamming their question to me in the LinkedIn Invitation! I know you have seen this. This is silly. By making 5 InMails free per month we kill this bad behavior. Second -> this idea encourages users to try out InMails. See their value. See how it helps them accomplish their personal business goals. When I see the value and see its impact, I am more willingly to upgrade and pay for the service. BTW, the 5 free InMails would not roll over. In summary, LinkedIn offers numerous benefits to their paying customers. But InMail really touches a nerve for me because I feel it really inhibits *positive* collaboration among the users. This should be treated as a core element of LinkedIn, not a pay-for-feature.
3. I am sure you have received an invite from someone you didn't know. And you thought, "Should I accept this?" You are hesitant because maybe you recognize the company or something. Its tough. You only get two choices "accept" or "decline". If I accept, I'm committed. If things don't work out then I have to delete this person. Awkward. Flipside, if I "decline" then I might be missing a potential business opportunity. That sucks. The answer I have seen to this dilemma on forums, etc. is "if you do not know the person, do NOT accept their invite". Hmmmmmm.... Again another behavior that is inhibiting communication, possible business, keeping LinkedIn closed, etc. I prefer a third option be introduced - the abilty for me to reply to the person to get more info. This sort of runs parallel to my InMail request above. But at the end of the day, the primary form of communication on LinkedIn begins with Invitations. In their present state they are too narrow....we need to introduce some more details/more info so users can make better decisions and have better experiences with LinkedIn and more importantly, the people they are connecting with on LinkedIn.
4. LinkedIn Messenger ( a la Facebook Messenger). I would love to have the ability to message my connections in real time on LinkedIn. Could be an opt-in tool and not made immediately available (ie I would have to approve messenger requests). In short, this goes back to fostering communication. This is the next logical step in the process. Receive invite, accept invite, trade emails, then start messaging in real time.
5. Recently LinkedIn made a change that has put my account in permanent "edit" mode. Please disable this. Thank you.
In summary, I really hope that LinkedIn does open up and better facilitate communication between users. I say this because I really like LinkedIn. I am not aware of any other professional site on par with LinkedIn. To me, it is the sole professional site on the Net. As a result, I am committed to it and I want to use it more often than I do today.