[UPDATE] LinkedIn has now restored this functionality. They have variously said that it is a test they were running and a technical issue. Whatever the reality, hopefully the weight of users’ voices is helping LinkedIn to focus on supporting valued connections.
In 2011 I wrote about The continuing devaluation of LinkedIn connections.
When I first wrote the article I incorrectly thought there wasn’t a way to message people who had invited you to connect without first accepting the invitation. Commenters on my post as well as LinkedIn’s local PR company let me know that you could in fact do that.
The broader point I was making about the devaluation of LinkedIn connections still held, but the feature allowed me and others to sort through requests.
I and many others get deluged with LinkedIn requests. Some are from people I know and want to connect with. Many are from people I don’t know or remember.
If I get a LinkedIn request from someone who seems interesting but I don’t know, I have until now replied without accepting, asking them first why they’d like to connect before accepting.
In many cases I get no response, suggesting they are following the very easy path of asking for connections from everyone LinkedIn suggests. In fact I regularly get people telling me they’ve done exactly that, simply sending dozens of invites to people they don’t know but LinkedIn has suggested. A sure way to devalue connections.
In other cases I am reminded that we do know each other (my memory is fading!) or find there is a specific reason they’d like to connect with me.
In all cases the ability to reply to LinkedIn invitations without accepting is a critical tool in maintaining the value of connections.
When you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, there is a message saying “Only invite people you know well and who know you.” Sound advice, yet much of the design of the site suggests LinkedIn’s strategy is in fact to encourage new and in many cases meaningless connections.
There is a thread on the LinkedIn Forums Can no longer Reply to an Invitation to Connect BEFORE Accepting where many users of a similar mind to me are expressing their unhappiness with this feature change, saying things like:
Without this feature LinkedIn becomes useless as a tool for me.
LinkedIn can be counted on to always find new ways to make the LinkedIn website more “user-surly”.
This is a major “value-subtract”
I’ve no idea why LinkedIn made this harsh decision and removed this valuable feature.
This has to be the worst decision EVER…in my humble opinion
I do hope LinkedIn reconsiders this very poor decision to remove this feature.
If this change stays, it makes a (further) mockery of LinkedIn’s official admonition to only connect with people you know and trust.
… and so on
In the thread a couple of people have posted a response from LinkedIn:
You can still reply to the person who has sent the invitation by clicking on ignore and then you may click on reply from that invitation message which is located in your archived folder. Please note that you should not click on I Don’t Know or Report Spam if you consider to accept the invitation at a later time.
For many reasons this is an extremely poor workaround, which is placing a massive burden of inconvenience on the user.
Which brings us back to the point I made in 2011: LinkedIn appears to be happy for the value of connections to decline, potentially to the point of irrelevance. I may at some point discuss their underlying strategies that are leading them to these decisions.
For now, I’m just another pissed off user.