Changes to LinkedIn Contacts and Inbox

LinkedIn is rolling out changes to its interface faster than we can keep up. Last month we talked about LinkedIn Intro and the potential security problems associated with it. This month we cover two other recent changes that involve your connections and how you communicate with them on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Inbox                   

Last week, LinkedIn announced a new look for your Inbox (you can find your Inbox by clicking on the message icon that looks like an envelope on the top right of the LinkedIn navigation bar).

Once you arrive at your Inbox, you’ll see navigation on the left side for Messages, Invitations, Sent items, Archived items and Trash.

If you click on Messages, you’ll see a list of your Messages, including the name and photo of the person contacting you and a preview of the message, along with the date it was sent. When you hover your mouse over an individual message, icons appear which allow you to easily reply, forward, archive or delete the message directly from the preview.

Clicking on Invitations will show you a similar view of your invitations to connect, but this time you’ll see the photo, name, title, date of the invitation and how many connections you share, as well as the first part of the invitation message, which can be expanded to view the entire message without leaving the page by clicking on the “Show more” link. You can accept the invitation, reply without accepting, or ignore it, all without leaving the page.

The New LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn has also made some recent changes to your Contacts (which can be found under the Network menu on the top navigation bar). Now when you click on Contacts, you’ll see large boxes at the top of the page suggesting people you might want to connect with. Below that, you’ll see a list of your Contacts, which you can view by the most recent conversation, most recent connections or alphabetically (by first or last name). You can sort and filter to view only connections (contacts with whom you’re connected on LinkedIn), or view by tag, location, title or company.

LinkedIn has also added a new feature which will allow you to sync your email and calendar with LinkedIn to see the latest updates about all your connections, both inside and outside of LinkedIn within the LinkedIn interface. If you choose to do this, not only will you see changes in the information displayed Contacts list under the Network menu, but you’ll see more information when you view an individual contact’s LinkedIn Profile. You may have noticed some of these changes already.

When you upload your address book to LinkedIn, LinkedIn will automatically add the information you’ve uploaded to your Contacts’ LinkedIn Profiles. That information can be found by expanding the icons you see under the main box at the top of their Profile which contains their picture, professional headline and other basic information, including the contact info icon (which looks like a Rolodex card) and the relationship icon (a star).

Under Contact info, you’ll see the information that person provided to LinkedIn, including links to their website, as well as any information you uploaded from your address book, such as their email address, telephone number, etc.

Under Relationship you’ll see the date you connected, as well as spaces to add your own notes, reminders, and tags directly into that person’s Profile so that all of the information you have about that person is in one place. Since this information is created or uploaded by you, it is visible only to you.

If you’ve connected LinkedIn with your email, contact lists, or calendar, you’ll now see an envelope icon where LinkedIn will collect and display (again, only to you) past conversations and meetings with that contact.

According to LinkedIn, when you sync other services with LinkedIn, LinkedIn Contacts will keep your contacts and their information up to date by regularly checking for any changes and create an index of your email messages so you can quickly access your message history.

If this sounds helpful to you, you can sync services with LinkedIn by going to your LinkedIn Contacts page and clicking on the “gear” icon at the upper right of the Contacts heading, which will take you to your Contacts settings. From your Settings page you can sync with Google, Yahoo!, Outlook or iPhone and with applications such as Evernote, TripIt or CardMunch.

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