Changing Face Of Linked In Invites #In

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I recently conducted an experiment in to inviting people to connect on Linked In. I was expecting the result to prove that you needed to personalise invites to get the best results. This is the advice I’m repeatedly reading from the experts and coaches that advise on Linked In. I was surprised to get results back that prove almost the opposite.

I posted the following results on my job seeker blog, “Social Job Search.”:

I sent out 50 invites to connect to people I was not connected with anywhere else.

I got 31 acceptances in total. Bear in mind that some of the 50 may not yet be opened. It’s not uncommon for some people to either follow you for a while and accept or archive later or those that have profiles they rarely visit, choosing to either ignore or turn-off e-mail alerts.

The results of the 50 invites were:

The Standard Linked In Invite: 23 out of 25 accepted.

The Tailored Linked In Invite: (This introduced me and stated my objective in networking.): 7 out of 25 acceptances.

I took this further by sending out a further 20 invites, 10 using the standard Linked In Invite and another 10 using tailored invites. These were sent as introductions via connections.

I received 6 acceptances. 5 for the standard invite and 1 from the tailored invite. Of the 20 invites, 14 were forwarded to the second level connections.

To complete the experiment, I sent out a further 20 invites to members I shared a group with. At this stage, all of the invites were the standard Linked In Invite.

Of the 20 I sent out, I got 19 acceptances. By far in a way the most succesful.

When I published this post it created quite a lot of discussion. There were those who insisted the findings were wrong. Nobody could provide anything but opinion to dispute it though.

There were those that felt the results were skewed by the fact that I’m quite well-connected, or that I had a recruiter background. I would question this statement. If this was the case, wouldn’t it impact on the personalised and the standard invites equally?

I have since discussed this at length, with people who sit in both camps. My own conclusions as to why this might be the case are:

1: The dynamic of invites changed with the new style invite, and the removal of the “I.D.K.” option. Unknown connectors no longer run the risk of being sent to Linked In jail. this has resulted in an increase in connection requests.

2: There has been a general shift in the attitude to networking over the last 12 months. In the past, networks have been largely built on a people I know basis. The impact of twitter, where you have little control over who follows or communicates with you, has led to a ready acceptance of connections in other channels to invites from strangers. Even in Facebook, increasing numbers of people accept friend invites from people they have no knowledge of.

3: The e-mail button that comes with the invite has one highlighted option, Accept. You get the link to look at the profile, but only accept has its own option. You get the accompanying message in the e-mail text, which may increase the spam reaction.

4: With the increase of internet access via mobile, have we become accustomed to accepting push button invites without investigation?

5: Attitudes to networking are changing. Many more people are using social media channels to meet new people and make new contacts rather than keeping in touch with old contacts, at the same time, we are much quicker to disconnect with people that we view as spammers, rude, dull or purely pitching.

These are my thoughts as to how networking, and our view on Linked In, in particular is changing. I would really like to hear your thoughts as to how you might be building connections now compared to 12 months ago in any of the channels.

Keep being ambassadors,


Links Mentioned In This Post:

The Original Post On Social Job Search

Glen Cathey’s Excellent Post on Linked In Demographics

21 comments on “Changing Face Of Linked In Invites #In

  1. I wonder if another potential reason for the results is that people are okay with adding a connection assuming it’s not going to require anything from them (as you mention, Twitter and the potentially low involvement of a follow may have helped shape this perception).

    When you get a personalized invite with networking objectives, however, accepting the invite doesn’t seem nearly as simple. Accepting the more detailed and thorough invite may suggest a bigger time commitment with a clear expectation that the invitee will be expected to spend time with the sender.

    Just a thought,


    • Mike,
      I think you might be on to something there. I can see how people will shy away from adding work to an already full day. If it looks like the connection could be high maintainance, best to ignore for now or come back later. (Then forgotten.)
      Thanks for your thoughts,

  2. Mike’s thoughts were exactly what I was thinking when I was reading your great post Bill.

    • Michelle,
      Thanks again for your comments. one of my reasons for raising this point is that much of the Linked In advice I see is based on Linked In “as was” rather than Linked In “as is.”
      This needs some addressing.

  3. Nice experiment. I kind of agree with Mike’s point here that the invitees sent customized messages might feel they will have to give a higher level of commitment. Also the impact of twitter as you said has an impact in the attitude change of people to accept invites from people whom they don’t know. I guess what remains to be seem is the value one derives from these connections. How many and what wa linkedin members are actually utilizing their connections!



    • Vijesh,
      With the changes to company pages and the introduction of Jobs Insider, size of Linked In network is increasingly becoming important. second and third level connections and reach within a business will be more important than ever. I will be posting on this next week.

  4. Can I suggest a possible reason?

    Fear of rejecting the wrong person.

    When you get a standard invite you think to yourself ‘Do I know this person, I’m not sure, but what if I have met them and just forgot? Or what if it’s a potential client and I reject them?’

    So, to be safe, you add them .. after all you can always remove them later.

    Now, imagine you get a tailored email saying ‘You don’t know me but…’

    That takes all doubt out if it. I don’t know them, so I can reject them.

    It’s a bit like a receptionist getting a phone call and checking with you if you want to take the call.

    ‘It’s some guy called Richard for you..’ Should I take the call? Could be a salesman, but might be someone I met but forgot or a potential client.

    ‘It’s some guy called Richard from Acme Ltd, he said you don’t know him but he wants to see if we need to buy more widgets’ .. ‘Tell him we’re not interested’

    • Rich,
      I think you are right in this. Connections prove themselves good or bad over time. the attitude is certainly accept now and weed out later.
      BTW, had a look at your site. There is some nice work there. Do you have any career sites you have worked on? Im working on a post and want some examples.

      • Thanks Bill,

        I have worked on a few careers sites over the years, but only one’s still up and that’s possibly (definitely) the worst site I’ve ever worked on.

        If you wanted to feature a “how not to do it” article any time, that’d be the one to go for!!


  5. Bill:

    Great experiment, and I am unfortunately not surprised. The question I have is what is the quality of the connection between the generic vs. custom invite. It might be interesting to do a follow-up experiment and ask each member of this group to do something and chart their compliance and the timeframe in which they do it. It may be as simple as asking them to introduce you to someone in their network.


    • Jason,
      A good question. what i have found in all the networks I’m involved in is that there is little you can tell as to the quality of a connection when you first connect. This comes over time. only when you have built on that initial hello and found some shared interest will you find the value of the connection. Some stay passive for months, then somthing prompts them in to action.

  6. Really very wonderful news.Thanks.

  7. Bill – very interesting post. I am curious how and who you picked to send invites to. They had no relationship with you whatsoever? If that is the case it doe in fact fly in the face of the conventional thinking.

    I have one other thought… Maybe Bill Boorman is such a powerful force in NA & Europe that no once could refuse an invitation to connect – what do you think? 🙂

    • Dave,
      It’s nice to be called a powerful force, flattering if a little over stated. if no one could refuse an invite then the balance between custom invites and the standard one would be the same. This was clearly not the case.
      This makes the result stand in my eyes.
      I think conventional thinking is based on the old style invite with the IDK option. Things have moved on since then, though the advice hasn’t.

  8. Bill,

    I am surprised at the response. I am curious however who you sent invitations to. Were they totally unknown people, people you had met in the past, people who might be interested in connecting with you because of your background? Also were they through groups or jobs that you shared so that was stated on the invite?

    Twitter and Facebook type of inviting may have an influence on the way people accept invites. Even on Facebook I won’t accept everyone. I don’t want to be bombarded with updates all the time.

    Call me old fashioned, but I will not connect with people that don’t include at least some hint of how I know them or why we should connect. I value my connections.

    I do believe people may be more willing to accept invites because it is the easiest way to get around the change in LinkedIn where you don’t see the last name of 3rd connections. I noticed the last time I did a search I was able to see everyone’s last names. Wow, I thought LinkedIn had changed their strategy and then I noticed that everyone was a 1st or 2nd connection. This happened by inviting several people in my new industry to connect with me.

    I do agree that giving a lot of info may turn people off to accepting, but I just think it is polite to invite people to join with something more persoanl that the standard invite.


    • Barbara,
      The invites were a random selection untill the last stage, when I selected people I belonged to groups with. The reasons for increasing your network is the exposure to your second and third level connections in full. you also come up on “people you may know” more often, which increases relevent connections. this also brings you out more often in searches.
      I accept the point on politeness, but then I reply to people as soon as they accept. The standard invites were far more succesful.

  9. I agree with the experiment. There are a lot of “LinkedIn gurus” out there that still repeat the training that they prepared 3 (or more) years ago.

    Life has changed. Social network has changed.

    I only use standard invitations and basically get all accepted. Unless the person I invite has abandoned LinkedIn after creating the profile.

  10. […] invitations work pretty well. Taking inspiration from Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman), a UK recruiter, I tested my response rate on automated decisions. […]

  11. […] invites (not personalised), to group members to be most effective hence the 50 groups. (this is my last post on the topic.) What is key is your second message. People will on the whole connect with anyone, but […]

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