How often have you got LinkedIn Invitations “to connect” from people claiming that you have done business with them in the past, when you are surer about the opposite than your kid’s birthday?
My guess is quite often. And if you have a generic title like CEO – which makes you a dumb target of luxury marketing whether or not you can afford them – you probably get more.
For long, I was angry with people who would just blatantly lie and say ‘We’ve done business together’ as a reason to connect over LinkedIn.
I wondered why can’t they simply be honest and write a personal message and say, hey, I don’t know you, but I would like to get connected for yada yada..
But I realized today, I’ve been getting mad at the wrong people. I should be mad at LinkedIn.
Consider this, I was looking to connect with Ajay Kelkar of Cequity. Since I don’t know him, I selected that option and drafted my email.
But, see what LinkedIn tells me AFTER I click on ‘Send Invitation’
Firstly, why give me the option to select ‘I don’t know Ajay’, allow me to type my message, and then sadistically tell me that I can’t send the message. Simply bad UX.
Secondly, the message seems to suggest you cannot send invitations to people you are not connected to, but LinkedIn has an InMail program through which you can send emails/invitations to people you don’t know. It is a useful service and comes at a price.
Aside from creating a bad user experience, LinkedIn is losing an opportunity here to advertise their InMail program. Here is what LinkedIn can do instead.
- Like Facebook, allow people to send a message to everyone, whether connected or not (remember, Users are doing it anyway, if you give a choice for people to be honest, most will take it.)
- When people select, ‘I don’t know xxx’, ask them if they want to send an InMail instead with assured delivery to the inbox. For those that are already InMail users, the message box could say, ‘You have yy InMails, send an InMail to xxx instead.’
- Design and enforce penalties. Strongly forewarn users to be very careful when they say they know the recipient in any way. Inform them about the risks if the recipient disputes the claim.
- Allow recipients to mark messages with false claims as such without direct feedback to the sender. Most people would like to be polite.
- For the recipient, put all these unsolicited requests in a separate inbox and make it unobtrusive.
Coming back to my peeve, as a way of introduction, LinkedIn provides a standard sentence.
‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’
When seeking to connect, it is not sufficient introduction because it doesn’t say why.
But it is not LinkedIn’s job to do it. It is the users’.
You sure wouldn’t lose anything by providing a little more context. But you would very likely come across as silly, if you just go with the template, and worse lie about knowing the person.
It is like asking ‘Mujhse Fraandship Karoge?’ on LinkedIn.
You are warned.
(For the uninitiated, ‘Mujhse fraandship karoge’, is a common crude opening line used by Indian men with women (presumably) in online chat rooms. It is a ‘loose’ request for friendship but very often means much else.)