LinkedIn Update: The “Friend Invitation”
Aren’t new features great? Well okay, not all the time…but this time I think so!
You may not have noticed but LinkedIn recently made a very significant change to the categories used to validate invitations to connect with other members on the site. It wasn’t well publicized and in fact, even I had to refer Google to figure out what happened when it first launched back in October I think. Frequent LinkedIn users will know exactly what I am talking about. In the not-so-old days of Pre-October, if you wanted to invite someone to connect with you on LinkedIn you had to have some sort of previous connection with that person in order to validate your invitation. Your options were: “Colleague, Classmate, We’ve done business together, Group, Other” and “I don’t know (contact name).” In order for your invitation to be sent you had to select one of those options or, in the case of “Other,” provide your prospective connection’s email address. Otherwise, you couldn’t send an invitation. Joining groups provided a popular work-around since you were formerly able to invite fellow group members to connect with you. However even that had limitations since you are only allowed to be a member of 50 groups. That too could be managed by simply un-joining groups after you’ve used them to send invitations, then joining new groups. Even so, there was a lot of work involved.
LinkedIn‘s big change is the removal of the “Group” option in their invitation validation process and the addition of a “Friend” option. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the use of the word “Friend” in this context since LinkedIn is a business tool for me and my LinkedIn connections are not necessarily friends; trusted colleagues and associates – yes; people I hang out with on weekends… not so much. However, and this is a big one, according to LinkedIn, anyone can be your friend. Isn’t that sweet? What it means in real world terms is that you can now invite anyone to connect with you even if you have no other connection with that person. This is great news for new users, job seekers, recruiters, and other people who actively seek to grow their networks and regularly make new connections.
LinkedIn’s desire to be seen and used as more of a social network for professionals with more dynamic relationship development options is our good fortune. They have now made exploring and connecting even easier!
Pro Tip: As I wrote above, I don’t think of LinkedIn in the same way I think about Facebook or any other true social network. LinkedIn is a professional network and while I sometimes use the “Friend” option to invite people I don’t know to connect, I always write a personal note in which I apologize for using the word “friend” in that context and admit that I don’t know them. Sure, there’s a 300 character limit so you have to keep your message concise but I think it definitely pays to be honest and up front.
PS: In my next career I think I’m going to focus on drawing little red arrows. The one on this blog’s image is awesome!
Kurt Schmidt is the author of “Modern Job Search” and the President and Owner of Capto Systems, an executive search firm focused on supply chain and strategic sourcing jobs in manufacturing and energy. He’s also an aspiring photographer and traveler. If you’re really looking for a job, you need this book!