You know that classic saying that “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”? Well, I’m afraid a little bit of that is going on with LinkedIn right now. A few weeks ago, in one of my LinkedIn training sessions, one of the participants interrupted me to say:
“But Matt, I’m confused. The way you’re teaching us to write ‘Get Introduced’ requests on LinkedIn doesn’t make sense — because the screen I’m seeing only allows you to write one note, not two.”
At first I thought he was just looking in the wrong place and it was a case of user error. But then, when he sent me a screen shot like the one below, I realized something was afoot. I’d never in my life seen the screen that was showing up on his computer, which was different than the one LinkedIn had been using for many years.
Not knowing what to make of it, I just shrugged and chalked it up as a mystery. Then, about a week later, this new screen started showing up on MY computer, as well! Whenever I clicked the “Get Introduced” option on a person’s profile, the old two-part screen (where you’d type one note to your friend, and then another one to your desired contact) was no longer to be found — and instead, you had to combine all of your thoughts into a SINGLE message box, as shown above.
As for the “right hand, left hand” comment? I wrote to LinkedIn’s customer support department to ask why they’d made this change (which I don’t like) and here’s what they said:
“Matt: At this time, this may be a Beta Test that is going on, because none of us here in Customer Service have ever seen this page.”
Ha ha — now THAT’s comforting! Knowing that this new functionality is being rolled out to millions of users, but nobody bothered to brief the customer service folks about it…
At any rate, while I’m not intending to make a mountain out of a molehill, this new screen DOES require some different thinking about how to request referrals on LinkedIn — and how to construct an appropriate Introduction message. Since you now have to combine all your thoughts into a single note, which then gets passed through the chain, LinkedIn apparently (per the instructions on the screen) intends for you to aim your note at your FRIEND — not at the actual person to whom you’re requesting an introduction. In other words, if we follow the directions, we’d write something up along the lines of:
“Lori: Hope you’ve been well since last we spoke — and if you wouldn’t mind passing this note along to your friend, Barack, I’d sure appreciate it! I’d love to talk with him about my health care plan and see if he has any suggestions on how to bring the costs down. Thanks much…”
To me, this seems a bit wonky, since I find it odd to ask a favor of somebody without directly addressing the person I’m hoping to meet. It just doesn’t seem polite. So while this concept might grow on me eventually, given that they’ve “moved my cheese” and the old screen is no longer an option, I’ll probably fudge it for the time being by just typing two notes into the one screen, regardless. Something like:
“Lori: Hope you’ve been well since last we spoke — and if you wouldn’t mind passing this note along to your friend, Barack, I’d sure appreciate it!”
“Barack: Nice to make your acquaintance, and as a small business owner operating in the Seattle area, I just had a few quick questions I was hoping to ask about my health care plan and what I can do to reduce its costs. Is there any chance I could give you a 5-10 minute call, one of these days, to get your insights into this issue? I’d greatly appreciate it and can be reached at email@example.com if you’d be willing/able to lend a hand…”
That’s my best advice, at least, given the new screen and how they’ve altered the process. So while I’m not sure if all of you out there have noticed this new screen already, or whether it will stick, I just wanted to chime in and give you my take on it — since the “Get Introduced” functionality continues to be, in my opinion, the single most valuable thing one can do on LinkedIn!