Wow. With all the LinkedIn changes taking place Ten of clubs in handlately, even a guy like me has a hard time catching up. So, I'm going to share with you ten really cool hidden LinkedIn features you may have missed.

1.  Give them a shout-out. Here is a really cool but simple way to get someone's attention when either sharing or commenting on a status update.

Just type an "@" sign prior to including someone's name in an update. Then when you find the person and select them in the list provided by LinkedIn, the person's name will be hyperlinked to their profile. At the same time LinkedIn will send them a message notifying them Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 3.32.23 PMthat they were mentioned in your update. You can do the same thing with company names.

Sometimes this is a little quirky when you have multiple people in your network with similar names. Therefore, try entering the person's last name if they aren't found correctly when using their first name. The extra effort is worth it.

2.  How many connections is 500+? You can now get reasonably close to the actual number by going Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 3.38.56 PMto the person's profile, scrolling over the small down arrow, and then clicking View recent activity. The number of followers will appear in the upper right-hand corner. Followers are defined as connections plus people who have clicked the Follow button on someone's profile. Thus, the number isn't exact, but it should be pretty close to the number of connections the person has.

3.  What are they talking about? If you go to View Recent Activity and follow the same steps outlined in #2 above, you can see what the person has been sharing in his/her updates for up to the last couple months. If you want to automatically get the person's updates going forward, just click Follow.

4.  Is this group really for you? Check out the group's statistics when evaluating whether to join a group or not. Some of the statistics include member demographics (seniority, function, location, industry), membership growth, and activity (number and trends of comments, discussions, jobs, promotions).

To find a group's statistics, Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 3.40.55 PMclick the "i" icon on any group profile.

5.  I'm not really interested in what you have to say. If someone is sharing updates that are really not in your areas Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 3.42.58 PMof interest but you don't want to disconnect with the person, just scroll over to the top right-hand corner the next time you see one of his/her updates and click the word Hide. Then you will no longer receive the person's updates in your feed. You can always "unhide" if you want to start receiving them again.

6.  Find the experts and see what they are writing about. You can Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 3.45.43 PMsearch the entire LinkedIn database of long-form published posts (articles), even those written by people you are not connected to. Just use keywords after you select Posts from the drop-down menu in the main Search box.

7.  Birds of a feather. LinkedIn really does a great job helping you find people with similar characteristics (company, groups, job titles, location, etc.) to the person whose profile you are currently checking out.

Three sections you ought to check out to find these "birds of a feather" are:

  • People Also Viewed
  • People Similar to [name of person you are looking at]
  • Others With a Similar Position at [company name of person you are looking at]

These sections usually show up in the right-hand column if you scroll down just a bit from the top of the person's profile.

8.  Who went to school for what? LinkedIn refers to this as Fields of Study Explorer. It enables you to see a complete list of all the people who had a certain major in school, and you can filter by:

  • Where they work
  • What they do
  • Where they went to school
  • Where they live
  • How you are connected

You can access this by clicking Fields of Study Explorer after clicking Education on your top toolbar. This is a great tool for recruiting. Trust me--you are going to love this one.

9.  It is your data anyway. This is a fairly new feature. You can request a zip file from LinkedIn that is full of spreadsheets with all sorts of your data, including a complete list of your first-level connections, your search history and so much more. Get yours by going to your photo on the top right of your toolbar and selecting Privacy & Settings. Choose Account and then Request an archive of your data. Within 72 hours, you will get your zip file.

10. Who doesn't love to save $10? Here is one that may save you lots of money. In order to send a direct message to a person you are not connected to, you have to purchase an InMail or use one of the InMails you get with your premium account--unless, of course, you share a LinkedIn group with that individual. Yes, that's right. If you are both in the same group, you can message him/her for free--with only one exception; that is, if the person has changed his/her settings and chosen to not accept messages from fellow group members. However, this rarely happens because the default setting is Allow members of this group to send me messages via LinkedIn.

To do this, when you're on the profile of a person you'd like to message but who isn't a first-level connection, scroll Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 8.38.35 AMdown to the person's groups and see what groups you can join. Join the group, go into the group itself, click Members, and then put the person's name in the Search box. When his/her name comes up, select Send message and do just that.

Nice job! You just saved $10 or saved one of your InMails for someone who doesn't belong to any groups or at least any groups that you have permission to join.

I hope you found a few goodies on this list. If you did, be sure to share this article with your LinkedIn network by clicking the In button below. They're sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness.