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LinkedIn Office Hours

LinkedIn is a site that allows users to find jobs, post new opportunities, and network with other LinkedIn members. Early to mid-career users find it easy to find jobs, but struggle with making meaningful networking connections. While the most intuitive way is to simply “Connect” with other users, most users will not accept cold contacts from other users. How might we change this behavior to allow the company to better leverage its most important differentiator: its community?

Proof of Concept
Product Design

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LinkedIn does not provide users with a way let other users know that they, in LinkedIn terms, open to network or connect.


Create a #Networking profile picture frame that signals that other LinkedIn members can reach out to them and connect.

Additionally, more experienced users can create Office Hours to set up 1:1 meetings with other members to offer mentorship, career guidance, and informational interviews.

How do users engage with LinkedIn content and other members?

We conducted user interviews to get a sense of why and how users utilize LinkedIn as part of their professional life to better understand the motivations behind the different types of activity they perform on the platform. Some takeaways:

  1. Value of LinkedIn goes up significantly once users add professionals to their network and 85% of users assess the value of potential new connections and ask how they’re connected.
  2. Of the 85%, all users are aware of this behavior, but will still send out cold connection requests themselves.
  3. In this job market, active users try to help out job seekers by sharing content that relates to their field or industry. The level of effort varies from user to user.
  4. 40% of users offer their time to informational interviews or mentor young professionals. These users worry about scaling up their activities on LinkedIn because they want to protect their personal time.

Job seekers are overwhelmed with a lot on their plate

Job seekers aren’t doing too well. They’re experiencing and unstable period of their lives where every little bit of help counts. Job seekers:

  • Don’t care about LinkedIn until they really need it, especially during and shortly after school
  • Struggle to communicate their needs
  • Struggle to know who they are able to reach out to for help
  • Interestingly, a pattern can be seen between where their use of LinkedIn increases the longer they have been in the field, or the more jobs they have held

Experienced professionals need a hint

Experienced professionals have seen this market before, or something close to it. They have seen coworkers get laid off before and want to use their position to lend a hand. Experienced professionals:

  • Want to be of help to job seekers in some way
  • Are hesitant to reach out because they don’t know what individual job seekers want or need
  • Offer their time to take calls with certain people, be it through LinkedIn or offline
  • Are worried that any activity might draw a flood of connection requestsUltimately, want to protect their personal time

Mapping the job seeker journey

We mapped both user journeys, but found the job seeker’s particularly interesting because we also spoke to students and early career users. This user journey allowed us to see with a little more detail additional opportunities that may exist, will also illustrating how a job seeker’s LinkedIn activity increases and changes over time.


Our original problem statement, “Users want to create meaningful networking connections with other LinkedIn members, but have trouble who is open to having those connections,” gave us a few ways to interpret that statement given the results of our research. We could:

  • Create opportunities for more informed conversations between existing connections
  • Add a signaling device to encourage users to interact with each other more often in a 1:1 setting
  • Connect those with experience to those without

Based on these ideas, a mix of the last two seemed to be the best approach.

#Networking & Office Hours

After some brainstorming, we chose to explore a simple profile photo frame addition of #Networking, which adds to an existing LinkedIn feature, and also add Office Hours as a feature, while would serve as a mechanism to allow the user to manage how much time they want to invest into this feature.

#Networking is a banner akin to #Hiring or #OpenToWork that suggests that the user is active on the platform and is open to making connections and well... Network in whatever form that may take.

Office Hours supports existing self-directed behaviors found on LinkedIn and Twitter, and more formally through sites such as ADPList, thus beginning to narrowing in their networking vertical. For both the experienced professional and the job seeker, this helps create a meaningful LinkedIn connection.

Recognizing safety concerns

While ideating this set of features, we recognized the potential risk of certain users on the platform, namely women, would gain by encouraging interactions from other users.

The term #Networking was chosen because it conveyed a broad meaning while also getting straight to the point. Testing names like #OpenToConnect or #OpenToNetwork either suggested a specific action (clicking the connect CTA). There are also privacy controls in place that limit which audiences can see the banner. This, in addition to Office Hours, is meant to help filter “qualified” leads into the Office Hours pipeline.

While we will segment test this feature, #Networking may not end up being a success and phased out, while Office Hours will still add value to our power users and lead to a monetized release in future versions.

Creating many pathways for entry

User interviews and testing revealed that the tools that LinkedIn offers to enhance your profile are unknown to most users. Using LinkedIn’s existing design patterns, the #Networking banner can be enabled in two areas at the top of the page and also managed in a section a little below the hero section. Naturally, most users opted to navigate with the primary buttons below the profile picture.

Protecting our user’s time

Users voiced their concerns (many times) that they did not to give time for nothing. “Nothing” in this case means no-shows, unproductive sessions, meeting under false pretexts, etc. We added a feedback system that not only allows our experienced professionals to provide feedback to their Office Hours attendees, it gives them a tool to report no-shows and inappropriate behavior that would remove attendees from the system after three strikes or have their actions investigated. This builds trust with experienced professionals in knowing that the system will work.

Usability Testing

We asked users to test the functionality of feature and to get a sense of their sentiment on #OpenToNetwork and Office Hours.

All participants noted that #OpenToNetwork could be a solution to their own pain points with cold contacts on the platform.

Participants were very interested in the 1:1 scheduling aspect Office Hours and naturally, the few experienced participants of the group expressed interest in creating their own Office Hours.

Finding opportunities to improve interface navigation

We took this project as an opportunity to explore new patterns in LinkedIn’s design system to help users better contextualize their actions within a single interface rather than across different modal screens. While 65% of users were able to successfully use the interface for a shorter time on task time, the remaining 35% of users got lost in navigating the different panels, either a fault in the UX or in our prototype’s hit boxes.

Ultimately, we dropped the exploration in favor of the tested patterns in the LinkedIn system.

Next Steps

  1. Segmentation testing of #Networking banner. Even with the number of safety and privacy controls in place, the feature needs to be tested at scale to minimize risk with this feature.
  2. If the adoption of Office Hours aligns with our KPIs, we will look into Premium Office Hours where experienced professionals may take on paid cohorts for deep-dive mentoring sessions or courses. Users that currently offer this service on social media take their cohorts to their own platforms and payment systems, but this can be a great entry for those who want to get their feet wet with knowledge monetization.

See the Prototype

See the Prototype