On October 1, 2014, LinkedIn unceremoniously eliminated a widely relied-upon function: the ability to connect with anyone with whom you share a group, without needing to know their email address.
Before October, if you wanted to connect with someone on LinkedIn with whom you shared a group, you would see a dropdown that looked like this:
Now, the dropdown is one item shorter:
While some LinkedIn members are postulating that the loss of automatic group member connections is a technical glitch that will be resolved, I’m assuming for now that it’s a permanent game changer.
LinkedIn experts have recommended for years that you join the maximum number of LinkedIn group (50) so that you can easily expand your network. This reason for group membership seems to have disappeared.
Or has it?
The fact is, the people in your groups are still pre-filtered for shared interests and so you might still want to make the effort to connect with them. Just because you need their email address doesn’t mean you have to give up on building your network! Groups are still a great place to interact with valuable contacts, share information, and ask and answer questions. You can still do all that!
The elimination of the automatic group connection feature might actually have an upside. Let’s say there’s someone in a group you want to connect with. What should you do?
First, look in their Contact Information section or their Summary for their email address. If you find it there, you can easily enter it when prompted. Next, if you know what company they work for, Google them at their company. Or Google anyone at the company and you might be able to model your new contact’s email address on someone else’s. For instance, if you find an address like JaneSmith@Company.com, you can guess that your contact’s email address is JohnBrown@Company.com.
If those options fail, you now must send an actual *message* to the person! It’s free though. There are two ways to do this:
From Discussions, click on the member’s photo or name link to see that member’s activity.
You will be taken to that member’s group Activity summary page. Click the “Follow” drop down menu on the right and select “Send message.”
Go to the group page and click on the number of members at the top right of the page.
Search for the member you want to message.
Then click the “Send message” link under their title.
Your message might read something like this:
Dear John, I was impressed by your contribution to the discussion in the Job Hunt group about HR practices in pharmaceutical companies. I would love to speak with you further about this topic and would be honored if you would provide me with your email address so I can send you an invitation to join my network! I would be happy to arrange a phone call as a starting point.
Yes my dear social-media-savvy, you might have to interact with another human being before adding them as another number on your connection list.
What I’m suggesting is that LinkedIn may have done us all a favor by forcing us to work a bit to connect with people whom we don’t really know even though we share a group. What do you think about this idea?
Remember again that group membership is valuable for many reasons, not just for ease of connecting with group members. Smaller, more local group in particular provide a forum for you to become a thought leader in your niche.
If you participate enthusiastically enough, it’s likely that other people will do the work of finding *your* contact information and send you requests to connect, rather than the other way around!
What do you see as the impact of the “loss” of this connection feature? I’d love to hear your opinion.