LinkedIn, you arseholes!

As far as I can tell, with a recent UX update the product team at LinkedIn has removed the option to reply to someone who sends you a connection request.

Since I first joined LinkedIn I’ve wanted my connections to show visitors to my profile who was in my actual real-world network – who I actually know well, who I can recommend, who I can endorse.

There’s no value to you in seeing a list of people who asked to connect with me on LinkedIn.

There’s value in that for LinkedIn – recruiters and other advertisers pay more for advertising on highly interconnected networks than sparsely connects networks. And new LinkedIn users are more likely to engage in their first few weeks on LinkedIn if they get connection requests all the time.

So LinkedIn doesn’t want us to decline connection requests. They want us to accept every one as quickly and as thoughtlessly as most of us favourite, retweet and like on other networks.

But I say: fuck you, LinkedIn. You forgot you owe me value in this relationship.

Connecting to strangers to help you build your business is way too asymmetrical a relationship – it means my LinkedIn inbox is full of investor pitches and job offers I don’t want to receive, much less read. I may as well just publish my email address on the web.

Worse, you make me look like an unresponsive elitist prick by declining requests without being able to explain why I’ve declined.

Before you removed the reply feature I had a carefully worded reply template that I’d use to reply to all the connection requests from people, explaining my reasons for declining and encouraging them to hit me up via other channels – Clarity (pay for a video call with me) or email (which has a spam filter LinkedIn lacks).

Recognising the need for symmetrical value for you and me both, I’d take the time needed to reply to everyone each week. Either I connected to you (because I knew you well) or you got a polite and explanatory note.

Now that feature is gone I’m left with only one option: accepting the requests (building value for LinkedIn but none for me) or declining them without explanation (leaving my reasons to the imagination of the spurned inviter, who I fear is too likely to decide I’m an aloof, arrogant arsehole.

Fuck that: the product team at LinkedIn are the arseholes here.

So from now on, if you’ve invited me to connect and haven’t heard back, you’re not going to. Sorry, blame the arseholes at LinkedIn.

If you still want to pitch me something, book a call with me on Clarity, or get introduced by someone we both know. Nothing personal, it’s just my workaround for the lack of a spam filter on LinkedIn.

And if you happen to know someone at LinkedIn, tell them that was a dick move and I hope they learn why that’s so the hard way.

As you were.

UPDATE: LinkedIn’s desktop browser version now makes it much easier to explain why you’re declining an invitation request. It’s technically possible in the mobile app too, but still way harder than it needs to be.

I’m Alan Jones, an EiR for startup accelerators, GP at M8 Ventures. Previously investor, founder, and early Yahoo PM. Opinions mine (but should also be yours).

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