The Noisy Channel


LinkedIn No Longer Allowing Invite Messages?

August 18th, 2009 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

I noticed recently that, when I sent out an invitation to connect to someone on LinkedIn, there wasn’t the usual slot for including a free-text note with the invitation. I thought it might be a glitch–and I even considered the possibility that this was only happening to my account because I’m a bit of a networking junkie.

But I noticed on Twitter today that Mark Williams (aka @Mr_LinkedIn) had noticed the same change and followed up on it with LinkedIn’s customer service department. I never assume any site behavior on a freely provided service is permanent, but it is starting to look like this is a deliberate decision and not a transient bug.

If so, it’s an annoying change, though I can see the merits. I’ve made heavy use of the connection message, especially when inviting someone I don’t know all that well–or don’t know at all. A personal message can be what distinguishes a welcome cold call from spam. But I’m guessing that others have abused that capability, filling it with spam or worse. Still, I feel like LinkedIn may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Will follow up if / when I hear more.

UPDATE: Just saw this message on the LinkedIn site via Twitter:

Unable to Personalize Invitation Message

Why can’t I personalize the message in my Invitation?

We are aware of an issue preventing some members from customizing their Invitation messages. There is no need to contact Customer Service as our team is reviewing the issue to determine the best overall solution.

As a temporary workaround, the following message (with your name in the signature) is being sent when you click on the ‘Send Invitation’ button: ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’

As long as you approve of this message, you may continue to take advantage of this feature. If you prefer a more customized message to be sent, you may delay sending your Invitations until the functionality has been restored.

UPDATE #2: Looks like the problem is resolved.

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stefano Bernardi // Aug 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    That’s just to have more people sign up for their premium services and use the otherwise useless InMail.

  • 2 Whit Andrews // Aug 18, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    With you on this one, Daniel. I much prefer invitations saying something like, “It was fun to be on that panel at SIGIR. Wow, you’re smart, and you have a great left hook!”

  • 3 Daniel Tunkelang // Aug 18, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Like Wyclef says to Shakira, “No fighting!

    Stefano, that’s a good point–this may be an indirect monetization strategy. But in that case they’d do well to announce it–no point in pushing a freemium model unless people know what you’re up-selling. I give them the benefit of the doubt and see this as a misguided way to fight spam. Or a bug.

  • 4 Neal Schaffer // Aug 19, 2009 at 2:50 am


    Excellent post!

    It is interesting if LinkedIn is adding this restriction to its countless others. For a social networking site that requires, in its User Agreement, that you only connect with people you know, the option to personalize the invitation was always an option. I always thought that that was weird…after all, if you were trying to get back in touch with someone that you knew, wouldn’t it make sense to allow you to personalize the invitation?

    I am hoping that this is just a temporary glitch, as have some other problems been in the past. I can’t see how LinkedIn can try to monetize the customization of invitation messages…it just doesn’t make sense.

    – Neal Schaffer

  • 5 Stavros Macrakis // Aug 19, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Agreed that this is an annoying change. I should be able to give context to my LinkedIn invites, e.g. “Nice to see you on LinkedIn — you may recall we worked together on the ABC123 project in 1995.” or “I enjoyed the discussion we had at SIGIR.” or whatever.


  • 6 Daniel Tunkelang // Aug 19, 2009 at 9:17 am

    According to the customer service message (see the update), it is a glitch. I hope so. In the meantime, I’m certainly more cautious about inviting people. I customize messages on most of my invitation requests–it’s an old-school sort of CAPTCHA where I prove I’m not a spammer by showing I care enough to write a personal message.

  • 7 Daniel Tunkelang // Aug 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Looks like the problem is resolved. Glad it was just a bug / moment of temporary insanity!

  • 8 Social Networking: Theory and Practice | The Noisy Channel // Aug 25, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    […] sent out a targeted message (in fact, a invite with personalized message–a feature I recently feared they’d killed). The results were overwhelmingly positive. I’m not sure how many of the people I contacted […]

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