I had an associate with a free LinkedIn account contact me late last week complaining about how he could no longer see the full names of his LinkedIn search results for 3rd degree connections – his results only showed the first initial of the last name. Furthermore, he claimed that LinkedIn had started charging for the ability to see the full names of 3rd degree connections in search results.
My first reaction was extreme confusion.
I hadn’t heard or seen anything to support his experience or claims. Had I missed a major announcement or blog post? Not one of the few thousand+ recruiters that I follow on Twitter had tweeted about it, at least not that I saw, but it’s safe to assume that if this person’s claims were accurate, news would spread like wildfire.
Interestingly, I just ran a search on Twitter (@4:00 EST 10/3/2010) for [LinkedIn last names] and only found 1 tweet that could be possibly referencing it. Certainly odd if this massive change from LinkedIn really was taking root.
Am I the only person searching LinkedIn on the weekend?
My second reaction was to quickly run a couple of test searches with my free account, sorted my results by 3rd degree + everyone else, and I was able to see the full names of everyone in the results.
However, I’ve seen LinkedIn roll out changes to only to select groups/individuals first before rolling them out to everyone, and my spidey-sense was telling me this might be one of those instances.
So I asked for some screenshots to see exactly what he was encountering. He sent me 3 screenshots confirming exactly what he claimed. I was still confused, because as of Saturday, 10/2 – I could still see full names of 3rd degree connections.
However, as I sat down to write this post at 4:00 EST on 10/3/2010, I found I could no longer see the full names of 3rd degree connections with my free account.
New LinkedIn Search Result View of 3rd Degree Connections
For people searching LinkedIn with a free account, this is what your view will look like when viewing search results that are 3rd degree connections:
This is what you will see when you view a profile of a 3rd degree connection with a free LinkedIn account:
When you click on (See Full Name), this is what you get:
Notice how is says that you need to upgrade to see the full names of search results of people who are only connected to you through 1 or more groups.
That certainly seems to be the case when searching from the People/Advanced Search form:
However, I did find that when I ran a search from inside a group, I could see full names – I am not connected directly to these people:
I would not expect that to last for long.
What’s the Price tag?
For a limited time only (until 10/19/2010), the cost to see full names of 3rd degree connections is $59.95/month. The standard cost for this level of access is $99.95.
From what I just found regarding a comparison of accounts (see image below), it appears that anything less than the Talent Finder / Executive accounts will not afford you the ability to view last names of 3rd degree and group connections. I am aware that as of the time of this post, some of you have the $24.95 account and are telling me you can still see the last names of 3rd degree connections. Be aware that this may not last long as the changes may not have affected you yet. If you have a LinkedIn account below the Talent Finder / Executive level, please conduct some tests and let me know if you can see the full names of 3rd degree and group connections – I’d greatly appreciate it!
Okay, but Can I Still X-Ray LinkedIn?
Power users of LinkedIn free accounts, you can breathe easy now.
Yes, you can still X-Ray LinkedIn and see the full names of anyone with a public profile, regardless of your level of connection. However, many have been wondering if and when this may no longer be the case…
Quite interestingly, this change seems to have thwarted Irina’s brilliant name reveal technique at and beyond the 3rd degree. For those of you who know what I am talking about – run some tests and let me know if you find anything different.
Are You Surprised by this Change?
The last time I checked, LinkedIn is a for-profit company.
For those of us who heavily leverage LinkedIn’s functionality for free to make money, we shouldn’t really be surprised by this kind of change. In fact, I know I and many others were actually waiting for this, or at least something similar to this to happen.
The people who use LinkedIn for free and specifically target 3rd degree connections are likely in sales and/or recruiting and are at least trying to use LinkedIn to make money. The average “Joe” or “Jane” who is using LinkedIn simply for social networking and not hard-core business development or recruiting isn’t likely to be adversely affected by these changes. In fact, they may not even notice this change.
What’s your reaction?
It turns out that anyone with any level of Premium account prior to the change will still be able to view the full names of 3rd degree and group connections. The only option for people who currently have a free account is to upgrade to a minimum of the $99.95/month account level.