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LINKEDIN – Rules That Bind Us Vs. A Golden Opportunity

Posted on August 11, 2006
Filed Under Networking | 6 Comments

First in A Series

A little background is in order: I am a LinkedIn PowerUser. I have over 3,800 contacts in my network. I maintain a disciplined network of semiconductor engineers and fellow corporate recruiters. I use Linkedin because as a 21st Century Recruiter, I prefer laser guns to bows and arrows.

Love/Hate relationships are complicated things. People are passionate in every sense of the things we hold dear, esp the things we love. You know the ones, the person you marry, your siblings. In this instance, I am writing about my beloved Linkedin. I am passionate about my observance of all the grand advantages it holds as a recruiter’s potential best friend. I can likewise be often frustrated that the thing I love can have so many convulted rules. It’s all about the rules that bind us. This is one of many posts to follow about the topic of social networking platforms, and about Linkedin, my platform of choice, in particular. I cherish it while like any friend, I observe its flaws and I prod, email its customer service, its leadership and exhange IM with my colleagues in the industry about how wonderful it would be if social networking platforms could embrace rather than limit their applicability to our War For Talent. Linkedin is my daily arsenal of passing virtual business cards, and keyword searching profiles aka resumes. If it would hold our hand in the battle for the Passive Candidates, Linkedin could be the secret weapon leading us to VE day.

Yes, Linkedin is my friend, it keeps me warm and fed on nights of cold leads and unfilled reqs; that being said ….. we let our friends know how they can better themselves to reach their potential; it’s what friends do. I am Linkedin’s best friend. I consider this my open letter to my pals at Linkedin.

My inspiration for writing this ‘open letter’ has been long in the making. My sourcing guru friends and colleagues in general within corporate recruitment have been goading me for some time to discuss Linkedin’s idiosyncratic approach in dealing with its key customer base, CORPORATE RECRUITERS, YOU & I, the very lucrative customer base its profit could derive benefit from. Linkedin can strengthen its relations handidly with my fellow recruiters and broaden its profit base by keeping faithful to core essential, customer relations bullet points. I developed a short list and You be the judge my fellow corporate recruiters:

1. Ask your customer base what additional features would best promote social relationship building for talent. A company that provides a service should do its utmost to pay attention to the needs and concerns of its customers. Create a core group of Beta users to try existing and new features before they hit market to optimize impact and performance.
2) Ask your customer base what interface quirks are problematic in an effort to streamline your user-friendly format. For example, perhaps not allowing introductions which promote jobs to fellow employees from agencies and/or competitors (that’s unethical) or making it easier to add and remove endorsements as needed, or making your LinkedIn badges easier to find 🙂
3. Alert your customer base to any changes in policies with e-newsletter updates (similar to those letters from your credit card company rules and regs updates). Don’t assume it’s enough notice when you ‘announce’ a crucial issue like how many invites a customer has left by listing it in the form of a little box in green, blue or yellow. This practice often has impt data out of line with viewing habits from a user-interface perspective.

4) Create perks which distinguish paid from non-paying customers where it matters: The Overall number of invites available, if not limitless, or amount granted without complex formulas. Linkedin should establish as few obstacles as possible for their customer base when utilizing the benefits of its services.
5) Create a credible Customer Council, perhaps by core customer bases; ***a recruiment council in particular,*** which will invite different perspectives. Reinforce by the regularity of meetings/teleconferences scheduled, the manner you derive, assess, and ultimately implement the recommendations we provide to make LinkedIn better & stronger. One shoe size never fits all customers.
6) Always remember, Corporate Recruiters can be your bread and butter if you embrace them and train your Privacy Officers, Customer Service, and Sales to improve their interactions with us. Remember the profit-motive and public relations fact: We, as a industry, are often the eyes/ears of our multi-million/billion dollar corporate bosses. We advise where those recruitment dollars go. A bad experience or one frustrating limitation too many can kill a large order, $4k Plus Job posting subscription. It did for me.

The issue under scrutiny is Linkedin’s practice of tightly limiting the number of additional invites granted on a monthly basis once a member has exceeded the arbitrary number of 3,000 invites. The new rules in place since this past spring effect members regardless of whether their subscription is paid, be it a $2,000 Plus or $240 plus account membership or a free membership. Linkedin decided to enforce this ‘rule’ last spring. (Another post on this one later). I would argue that paid memberships should have their perks which distinguish themselves from free accounts, esp. with regards to invites available, but to be specific, it’s those frustrating monthly grants which grabbed my attention this past week. Ever since one new rule followed the next, I have been a well behaved boy and use my Linkedin invites very, very sparingly. Each month, PowerUsers, like myself, who have very likely exceeded there invite ceiling have to await judgment if they have been naughty or nice as to whether they receive additional invites. If you are very well behaved, you get up to a maximum of 500. If you have been naughty, less than 300. I was somewhere in between according to the super computer at Linkedin. I decided I would save my invites and use them very sparingly in order to be granted the high privilege of the 500 additional invites I needed to make my next large upload and invite request to my outlook contacts and friends.
___________________

From: David Howell
Sent: Friday, July 07, 2006 1:11 PM
To: davemendoza
Subject: Re: WILL I BE GETTING MY NEW ALLOTMENT OF INVITES? 500?
Dave:
Thank you for your email. Your account has been reviewed and you have been granted 300 invitations … You may request another increase on 08/07/2006 by sending a request to Customer Service at cs@linkedin.com
David Howell
Manager, Customer Service
LINKEDIN CORPORATION

___________________

I circled each day on my imaginary calendar and the day had come, August 7th, when a month had passed and I would await like a boy on Christmas for his shiny new 500 invites to be granted under the imaginary Christmas tree!

But alas, it was not to be. After 4 customer service emails that appeared random, and then a call from THEE David Howell, Manager, Customer Service at Linkedin, Himself, – I was the told the new rules from the magical hat:

• First, One month must have passed since your last invite grant (okay met that one!!)
• Then, 75% of the last invites grant must have been used, (What? This is a new one … get me a calculator!)
• Then you need to remove the prior upload contacts in the last grant • Then, when next grant is applied, then I have to erase prior contacts for emailing.
• Then, I must re-upload the contact CSV file to produce my Linkdin Invites,
• Then, I must delete prior contacts again to ensure the invites are the total of those uploaded represented in the invite send out

If it sounds complicated and capable of frustrating the recruiters amongst us, it is and it does.

I wasn’t pleased. I’ve been a swell friend I tell ya! Santa has bitch slapped me and I had helped a lot of little old ladies down the streets to achieve the shiny 500 in the hopes of making a good impression – all for naught it appears.

I tried my Jedi tricks of persuasion. Alas Linkedin decided it was easier to present hoops and ladders for “Yours Truly Recruiter” from achieving nirvana – adding to my NETWORK.

David Howell, Manager, Customer Service; response to my complaints: “I can appreciate your frustration however these are the criteria for invite increases”

Then David ended the conversation with: “Your point is taken sir, it is”

The things you love can be the most frustrating.

Fellow Recruiters, I invite you to share your Linkedin stories 🙂 I also invited my virtual friend, Konstantin Guericke, to guest blog on ways in which to align Linkedin services to meet the challenges we recruiters face. More importantly, I invite Konstantin to initiate a dialogue on how Linkedin can better utilize input from the recruitment industry and blogosphere. We have a lot to learn from each other!

I will end my post with a request: If you haven’t Joined Linkedin, you haven’t experienced the 21st century arsonal of modern social relationship based networking. Join Linkedin, Open BC, Spoke, – whatever you choose, – but embrace at least one, if not all of the platforms available today or be left behind in the War for Talent.

Join Linkedin Here, just be sure you follow the rules, and make your voice heard on how best to improve the service … it’s what friend’s do. 🙂


HRSEO provides Internet recruiting solutions to employers.

Comments

6 Responses to “LINKEDIN – Rules That Bind Us Vs. A Golden Opportunity”

  1. Abe Ramos on August 11th, 2006 6:52 pm

    You and other “power users” might want to collectively remind LinkedIn that they have competitors that would be more than happy to earn your business. If you build it, they will come….

  2. Konstantin Guericke on August 11th, 2006 9:06 pm

    As a co-founder, I announced and explained the flexible invitation limit back in January on the major mailing lists for LinkedIn members. People are notified well before they get to the limit, and we grandfathered members with special rules who already had sent 3,000 invitations.

    Of course, it is in our corporate interest when our members invite new member or if the network gets connected closely. So, why did we institute the flexible limit?

    The biggest criticism we get is that members receive invitation from people that they don’t know, and they don’t like it. When we looked into this, we found that the overwhelming number of these abuse reports came from people who had been invited by members who had sent more than 3,000 invitations, so we decided to put the limit there.

    However, since we wanted to make sure we don’t penalize people who are getting good feedback on their invitations, we made the limit flexible, and we do raise the limit by 500 invitations at a time for members who get above average feedback on their invitations. So, as long as the feedback they receive on their invitations remains above average, they can keep inviting.

    Even when the feedback is below average, we give people another chance to re-build their invitation feedback score. However, when a member insists on inviting members who don’t know them and don’t want to be linked to them, then at some point the limit becomes firm or else it would not serve the purpose of protecting members from unwanted invitations.

    Having reached the invitation limit has no effect on the search and contact capabilities of LinkedIn–all members are still findable and accessible.

    -Konstantin
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/konstantin

  3. Heather on August 11th, 2006 11:27 pm

    I have to jump in to their defense here too…I’m one of the people Konstantin refers to when he says: “members receive invitation from people that they don’t know, and they don’t like it.” In my mind, it’s not really my network if I don’t know the people, it’s just a list of people.

    So they may risk losing your business on the one hand and losing mine on the other (all other things being equal). How do you mitigate that? I think you go back to the original value proposition of the tool which was to connect with people you know. That was the original intent and how it was marketed.

    There’s no way you can keep everyone happy when they have different ways of using the tool. At the end of the day, it’s less likely that you will abandon the tool after investing time in building your thousands of connections. Someone like me, who only connects with people the know, is more likely to abandon it if they feel they are being spammed by people they don’t know. I’ve invested less time overall (I don’t have to time to tend to the care and feeding of thousands of conections and their “referrals” which I wouldn’t know whether to trust in the first place). So to me, it seems like a reasonable business decision.

    Just the other side of the coin. For the record, I have never reported the people that I don’t know trying to connect with me ; )

  4. Dave Mendoza on August 11th, 2006 11:59 pm

    Konstantin and Heather, respectfully speaking … the combined response evades the central tenet of this post. I am not referring to the 3,000 invite limit – at least not in this specific post. I am referring to the prior ability to add invites on a monthly basis – now Linkedin has added additional percentages/ formulas when my emailed copy of David\’s suggestion is definitive proof that another review would provide additional invites.

    If we want to get technical, Konstantin personally invited me to the Customer Council nearly two years ago and yet I was never informed of a single teleconference. If Linkedin\’s executive staff invites a known networker/corporate recruiter to share ideas/suggestions and doesn\’t invite him to your \”Customer Council\” then I think I can honestly state I never received notification of the \”flexible invite rule\”. David likewise could not confirm that members were informed in my conversation today of either the 3,000 rule or the new 75% rule.

    One more specific thing – the tally on the far right of the Add connections which was in effect a count down of invites was peripheral and had I not asked what it was I wouldn\’t have noticed it, unfortunately in my case – it was too late. If you aren\’t aware of a reason to look at the fine print, you have little cause to do so, esp. as in my case, I can assure you I never received any notification about this \’flexible invite\’ plan.

    This post had nothing at all to do with whether I knew or didn\’t know those I intended to invite with the additional invites. Not one iota. In fact, I was planning to store my invites and use then sparingly for the very reason that I had intended to invite my Outlook database I actually knew at some degree.

    Let\’s stay relevant, my friend. This post solely concerns established-by-date communications I have provided publicly in the form of David\’s email and it explicitly addresses additional invites, and to my knowledge, no 75% usage rule exists which the public can readily observe. This post nor its supporting statements discuss fringe issues such as the 3,000 rule nor whether invites are strangers.

    I stand by my concerns of your wonderful platform my friend. It is very concerns of customers who care most and have as much invested in your success as I do that share my passionate in their sincere belief that your change in direction is misguided and not conducive to building alliances with the corporate recruitment community. Not informing me w/re to the meeting schedule of your customer council is but one of many illustrations of my point.

    You created a spectacular platform with unlimited potential Konstantin, they key is you need to decide how to incorporate your core customer base into the decision making process which will shape your relations and profit going forward.

    My suggestion is simple: Create alliances and open dscussion with the willing, present company included my friend.

  5. Bill Vick on August 16th, 2006 12:40 pm

    As always Dave is both articulate and to the point.

    I’m an admitted fan of LinkedIn, but as a Recruiter my goals and needs are different from the typical LinkedIn user. Keep in mind that we recruiters are a very small percentage of the LinkedIn population. LinkedIn has over 6 Million users and something like 100,000+ users classify themselves as Recruiting/Staffing and an unknown number say they are involved in Human Resources. Regardless, the number is significant, but not the driving force behind membership. I think the average user (bad word but the only I could think of) has less than 3 contacts in their network.

    Many of my recruiting friends are on LinkedIn to network – as it was intended. They built a quality network of trusted friends and associates and work the system as it was originally created by Reid Hoffman and Konstantin Guerke. I’m not like their model user as originally defined. I’m there for access and my needs and goals are significantly different than most user. Access to me implies a large and diverse network while the LinkedIn model stresses a quality network of known contacts. To me bigger is better because it give me more access and hence the opportunity for more placements.

    I differ with the current quality only philosophy promoted by some, and like Dave am a power networker (a far better term than what some have used) with over 4,700 contacts that grows daily. However, I can now access 3.5 Million people because of the size of my network, and that, the access, is the main draw for me. The other draw, which is often overlooked is being found. I think being found is just as, or more, important than finding on LinkedIn and being found has generated many thousands of dollars for me.

    In the support forms that have sprung up, such as the Vincent Wright’s MLPF on Yahoo, suggestions have been made by users along with critiques, complaints and accolades. I’m blown away at the response from LinkedIn management. I’ve never – but never – seen a company as tuned into its users as LinkedIn or as responsive to suggestions that fit their model and vision. Our vision as recruiters may differ than theirs, but I have seen them turn on a dime and add a feature, honor a requests, or tell a user why it did not fit the model time after time.

    Just like the corner ice cream stand, LinkedIn has users that want different flavors. Some want more, some less, some quality, some quantity, and some just don’t know. None of them is 100% right or wrong and just as that ice cream stand that offers chocolate or vanilla different networking styles are being used. In the final analysis its what works for you that counts.

  6. Dave Mendoza on August 16th, 2006 1:30 pm

    Bill, I agree with all of the paragraphs just above the line \”I’m blown away at the response from LinkedIn management. I’ve never – but never – seen a company as tuned into its users as LinkedIn or as responsive to suggestions that fit their model and vision.\”

    Heather Hamilton and I shared notes on what we love about Linkedin – the rationale extensive indeed, but we noticed the same lack of responsiveness on certain key points – above all their grand brush off of those they invite to their Linkedin Council, — Heather and I included. We never received a call, email, etc for when these meetings are scheduled and I have made several comments in this regard.

    Bill, you and I are in complete philosophical sync w/re to what functionality is best to pursue when it comes to leveraging relationships from the broader horizon approach.

    We only differ on the responsiveness of Linkdin to adapt and align itself to the Recruiter\’s cause.

    I thought it was simply I was a Spanish Rogue, but the kinder and gentler Heather convinces me it is an approach not a personal gripe on the responsiveness and engagement issues.

    I will focus on the positive in the days ahead .. as I said in my post, one in a series my friend.

    I am honored to have you visit Six Degrees, Bill and I invite you to read prior posts and comment to your heart\’s content.