Monday August 17, 2009
Oops - they've done it again. LinkedIn has taken away another one of its tools that helps people to connect. Was a time (like last week) you could send a customized invitation to an individual (you can still customize an "imported contacts" invitation). That meant just in case you didn't know which John Smith you were connecting to, you could write:
"Hi - we met at Joe's Bar and Grill and had that great discussion about LinkedIn. I forgot to get your business card, but would love to connect to you. Please accept my invitation to be a part of my LinkedIn Professional network. If this is the wrong John Smith, please archive this message. Have a great day."
Ah - but now that little "custom invite" button has been removed from an individual invitation - if you don't have their email address - and we can only send the default "Please join my professional network on LinkedIn". Where we met, how we know each other, the fact that I admire your work.... No longer can we say these things to prospective contacts we want to connect with. Sigh
What does it mean? Who cares if I just have to use the default text? Well, chances are the people you send a default invitation to - unless they are LIONs or know better, will IDK you. That means they will click on the button: "I don't know... Joe Shmo" and YOUR ability to utilize LinkedIn will be restricted. Once again - limiting the use of an awesome tool and making it not as valuable.
So seriously - why would you do something to inhibit the growth of your membership when the worth of your social media company is exactly correlated to the number of its members?
And the answer is.... Well, I'm sure the party line is that they don't want you connecting to anyone you don't know on LinkedIn. (Which makes me ask - then why not stick to Outlook?). My cynical self expects it's because they want to drive people towards their paid account so that you have to use InMail and upgrade to 15 Introductions. But maybe I'm just cynical.
What can you do? I would recommend seeing if you can contact the person you want to invite FIRST through a group. Right now (although this is likely to change too) you can send an invite or message to anyone you share a group with. You might look at groups like Invites Welcome, LIONs, TopLinked and OpenNetworker to connect to a bunch of people. Also choose groups that support your industry, and groups that support the industry of people you want to connect with (clients, employers, contracts, employees).
It takes longer, but you are less likely to get IDK'd AND it's a good way to create a meaningful connection.
So there you have it... today's "What were they thinking?!?" or WTF!?! Moment.