Linked In Invite Research And Other Tips

Get daves attention?

I’ve been reading some well intended posts recently from Linked In experts Neil Schaeffer and Tim Tyrell-Smith on how important it is that you tailor your Linked In connection invites. This is something I have advocated in the past, believing the theory to be correct. It certainly sounds like it should be. You should read their post as it prompted me to write-up this post on some research I completed recently on this very subject.

. The actual results of the test and follow-up were far from what I expected, showing something to the contrary of what I believed and is the expert advice given in these and similar posts. (including some of my own!)

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.

To understand this better, I mailed all of the people I had invited for feedback regardless of if they had accepted or declined my invite.

Of the 90 e-mails I sent asking for feedback, I got 32 responses, interestingly, 19 from those who had not responded.

Feedback included:

The tailored invite with a stated objective was seen as too direct in an invite. It was felt that there should have been more engagement prior to the invite. With so much spam flying around on linked In, for everything from internet brides to S.E.O., a longer message with any more than the standard RECOGNISABLE invite, then it got dumped without acceptance.

People were comfortable to accept or investigate the standard invite because they knew what it was.

Most people who received the invite chose to either:

  • Ignore, Archive or Delete immediately for the reasons outlined above.
  • Of those receiving the standard invite, most reported that they viewed my profile first before accepting, hence the reason for making sure that your profile is a real advert for you. Having looked at my profile they accepted the invite.
  • Of those that didn’t respond, most had chosen to “follow” me and wait and see. They stated that they may review this status to a full acceptance in the future.
  • Of those who accepted my invite who shared a group, most did so on receipt. They felt that if we shared a group, we must have something in common, and as the group had accepted me already I was “pre-vetted.” This emphasises the importance of belonging to groups.

Of those who replied and were willing to take a call to discuss in detail, (20), I got the following feedback:

In order: they would be most likely to invite people to connect if:

  1. They already communicated on another social channel, particularly twitter.
  2. They read a post they liked in a group or noticed someone on the new “most influential” list.
  3. People who are suggested via linked In on “People You May Know” lists. (The more connections you have and the more groups you belong to, the higher the likelihood of appearing on these lists.) Displaying relevent information from the top line of your profile is key here. You have 140 characters and this shows below your name in the “people you might know.” tab.
  4. People that come up on key-word searches. That means getting your key-words right and separating them with commas.
  5. People who answered their questions.
  6. Via e-mails received with a Linked In connect button.
  7. Via “connect with” buttons or invites on blogs and other places.

When looking at profiles to decide if to connect the top influencers in the decision were:

  1. A professional photo or one they recognised from your avatar in another channel. Be consistent with your picture. No picture, no connection.
  2. Your professional top line matching their area of interest.
  3. A recent update in the last 7 days. professional not personal content.
  4. Contact details for follow-up. (put this at the top of your profile.)
  5. A well written summary and objective.
  6. If you have an embedded blog most included this in things they look at on your profile.
  7. Whilst nearly everyone responded that they were impressed to see slide share presentations on the profile (professional image), most did not look at them unless they found the title really interesting and relevent.
  8. Most importantly, no one looked at recommendations at all, and gave them little credence. People with lots of recommendations, (more than 10), were seen as fake.
  9. The whole twitter feed on a profile was seen as irritating or irrelevant. Don’t do it!
  10. Interestingly, most reported that they go back to profiles in more detail once relationships were established, then they go back to profiles and look at the downloads (box.net, blog entries and slide share presentations.) In particular they go back to the profile from group posts, group comments or mails from update notifications.
  11. Most will look for contact details on Linked In first before Google. Make sure yours are prominent.
  12. Most fed back that they found relevent links on updates to be the most likely reason to engage with someone.

Other interesting feedback included:

  • The least popular thing about recruiters using Linked In is random  job approaches without any prior engagement or jobs with no real relevance.
  • Hiring managers in the sample were unlikely to connect with connection requests post interview but would accept them pre-interview, would be more likely to engage and respond to e-mails via Linked In than a standard e-mail. They also admitted peeking on-line for comments post interview on Linked or Facebook. (Always be positive!).
  • Some of the Hiring managers compare the Linked In profile with the resume received. If they differ, you are unlikely to get the job.
  • Most said they couldn’t care less what you have pictures of Facebook, and while they wouldn’t friend you, they would accept a Cow from you or fight you in Mafia wars! (Worth checking for this. I never would have thought of it!)
  • Most are comfortable engaging with you on twitter and are impressed by this, though not about the job or interview in detail, other than “good to have met you. Very interested!” Always check the Linked In profile for twitter profiles and follow. This is the most likely route to engagement!
  • Most stated that they had been made uncomfortable during the interview if the applicant refered to personal detail about them found on-line. (like where they had been on holiday!) Research is impressive, but profesional detail only.

Where I am 100% in agreement with Tim, and he brings this up in the comments section of his blog is that once you’ve connected, you need to get social. collecting names, like collecting stamps won’t get you employed. As always, my best advice is be social in your job search!

Thanks to everyone that replied to my questions, it has been enlightening, and is quite different to a lot of the advice that is flying around. It has taken me about 100 hours to complete but has been well worth while.

Subscribe to this blog for more detail on this research and some interviews with some of the respondents on what they really want to see from Social Job Seekers.

Keep it social in your job search and be lucky!

Bill

Links Mentioned In This Post:

Best Practice In Writing Linked In Invitations By Tim Tyrell-Smith & Neal Schaffer

About @BillBoorman
“I have always worked in and around recruiting as a Recruiter, Trainer, Operations Director, Consultant and Coach. I have spent more than 27 years in this industry which sadly qualifies me as a veteran. (substitute old!) During this time I have worked in most markets and have been responsible for the full H.R. and Training function for a recruitment business that grew from 6 to 147 branches. I have implemented I.T systems, designed performance management and appraisal systems among most other things. Over the last 5 years I have been working as a consultant and trainer to growing recruiting firms across Europe. The last 18 months saw my introduction to social media and social recruiting. I started with 50 connections on Linked In (mostly friends) and grew from there. signing up for a twitter account in March 2009 changed everything, as I was given access to a fantastic network worldwide. In Feb 2009 I was honoured and surprised to be ranked in the HR Examiner/trakkr index as the 6′th most influential on-line recruiter in the world. Despite this accolade, I still consider myself to be very much a social media amateur (there are lots more in my network that are much wiser and cleverer. I’m now best known as @BillBoorman on twitter, and have been described a twitterholic that never sleeps, omnipresent and even a whirling dervish! (Thanks @fishdogs.) In September 2009 I attended an event in Toronto (Recruitfest 09) that had a major impact on me. This was my first stint as a track leader at an unconference. I was so taken by this open format that I brought it back to the UK and with Geoff Webb, (Radical Recruit), launched #trulondon and other #tru events. We are in the process of taking these events on a global tour stretching from london to china over the next 2 years. I love the buzz these events create, and enjoy them as much on-line as off it.

20 Responses to Linked In Invite Research And Other Tips

  1. Paul Jacobs says:

    Insightful!

    The best acceptance rate I’ve had is from clicking Invite / Reconnect from my iPhone – one easy step, so I would concur with your research.

    Thinking about what motivates me to accept invitations, I tend to look at their profile description first and foremost – I ask myself, is it of relevance to me – my industry? Sorry to all those IT system analysts in Lithuania! If I was recruiting from a particular sector, then that would be a different story.

    I often receive tailored invites from people where it is obvious they just want to sap information from me or use me in such a way for only their own benefit – I will never accept an invite from someone who says they want to “pick my brains”. If I receive a standard invitation I always go and check out their profile. I don’t really care if I share a Group with them. I will unlikely accept invitations from those who have no profile pic, unless I know them.

    I never look at Recommendations, at any point. I tend to go straight to work history, so the amount of detail in a profile doesn’t determine whether I will accept.

    I’m starting to un-connect (or is it disconnect) with people who are polluting my stream with bulk job postings.

    Some people Bill only want to connect with people who are in their immediate real-life network (including past work colleagues). Whereas at the other end of the continuum are the LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs) who are mainly motivated to have a massive network. I think this too is a consideration in such research.

  2. Bill – First of all, hats of to you for putting in the time with this research. You were right to suggest that my earlier post was theoretical – although a lot of what i write is based on my own experience and an opinion drawn from my interactions with people on line.

    As I was sitting through my kids soccer games today, I started to think more about your research. And I am a bit baffled. But having now read your whole article, I can see the “spam” potential of a personalized message. And, truly, we all are influenced by the level, status, experience or perceived influence of possible connections. I wondered whether your being a recruiter skewed things a bit. Or if your location (UK) would influence people positively or negatively. Any thoughts on that aspect?

    What I love about your post is the amount of thinking I’ve done on this topic today! It is really an interesting question. You haven’t convinced me to accept a generic invite, but I now have additional data to process as I share my views with readers. What I like about a personalized invite is the commitment made – even if short – to reach out to me. Instead of just assuming that I will connect and run.

    Excellent post – even if I don’t like the results!

    • @BillBoorman says:

      Tim,
      location and occupation i’m sure has some impact. phase 2 will involve a couple of dummy accounts, one with a 50% complete profile to see if it has any difference. I’m just working on your guest post BTW and getting advice from contacts I have within the ATS industry.
      Please keep commenting,
      Bill

  3. Paul Jacobs says:

    Bill and Tim – thinking about it some more, maybe many of us don’t write very good tailored invites – quite possibly not all invites are created equal. Maybe this needs further exploration. Though Bill’s findings are counter-intuitive, unlike Tim “I like” these results. Saves me playing the game and justifying why they need to connect with such an awesome person – it should be obvious ;-) Saves me time and energy thinking up some greasy crap of how I have some shared affinity, or that we met at a meeting or conference where they could have been too drunk to remember. On the recruitment front, if I had the term ‘recruiter’ in my profile it should be obvious to a jobseeker that I want to use them as a commodity to bleed a commission from them.

    I have a theory that what drives people on LinkedIn is not typically relationships or the desire to really share content, but rather more ego-driven motivators around self-promotion. So, maybe if one writes too much stuff in an invite around establishing a relationship, this could be of little relevance to an invitee and put them off. Bill if you are keen on doing more research around this, then please send out a batch of invites that say “please connect with me and I will write a glowing recommendation about you” and/or “connect with me and I will make you very rich and famous” – would be interested in those results.

    • @BillBoorman says:

      Paul,
      I’m working on phase 2 of the research now. I’m trying to test a lot of what is talked about reguarding linked in. most of it is what we think rather than what we have tested. The changing layout and functions in Li are deffinitely changing the way the channel is being used.
      Will keep you informed, and if I knew how to make people rich, i wouldn’t blog it, i’d be too busy counting my money!
      Bill

  4. Bill Grunau says:

    Great study Bill and I have to admit I am absolutely shocked at the results. I only send a standard LinkedIn invite to people I know really well (no need for any additional comments) or people I just spoke or connected with (again, no need for any comments). I personally don’t reach out connect with people I don’t know well so I have no experience with response rates, but my intuition was the opposite of the results.

    I will say that when I receive an invitation from someone I don’t know I will generally ignore it if it is a standard invite. Recently I received some invitations from people I did not personally know and they explained how they found me and why the wanted to connect. For me, that caused me to click the “accept” button instead of the ignore button.

    Looks like I am in the minority on this one along with Tim. I really don’t understand why a people are more likely to click on a generic invite that had zero thought or time put into it vs. a personalized one. Hmm, wonder if this has any ramifications on cover letters or resume (jk).

    All the best
    Bill Grunau

    • @BillBoorman says:

      Bill,
      I think there are 2 factors to consider. the way invites are recieved now, it’s just easy to accept. Too much intro can be seen as over spammy, even when it is genuine. I think more people are looking to build networks these days and work as I do. I accept all invites, but weed people out quickly if they disapoint.
      resumes and cover letters are a whole different story. don’t get me started on that one!

  5. Linda Coles says:

    Thanks for sharing your research.

    I always personalize my invitations, but only slightly. I change the opening line to say something like “It was nice to meet you last week at the seminar”. I then leave the template part about adding them to my network, and finish off by adding “Kind regards” at the end.

    This approach really works for me, as it is still short and sweet but I have added my personality to it. I certainly don’t do the whole cut and paste a paragraph thing which can come across as too spammy. The person on the receiving end does not necessarily have the time to read it either.

    I teach others to make any template their own as networking online etiquette should be no different than in person. You wouldn’t necessarily use the same opening line to someone in the flesh, so why do it online?

    Linda Coles Blue Banana

    • @BillBoorman says:

      Linda,
      thats sage advice. a little bit custom without going too far. If it works for you, stick with it. i was suprised by the results because I was trying to prove somthing to the contrary.
      Bill

  6. Bill

    Many thanks for the time and effort you have put into this research, certainly as an independant LinkedIn trainer there were some real shocks but on reflection I now understand why people respond the way they do, particularly to the direct reason for contacting message.

    I believe that people are, in the main, still curious and cautious about using social media sites, such as LinkedIn, so immediately they receive a slightly ‘pushy’ message, such as a reason for the connection request, they will be somewhat stand offish because no relationship has been built at this point. I agree that it is too direct an approach.

    Best wishes

    Steve

    • @BillBoorman says:

      Steve,
      I think the change in the way invites are recieved has changed the way we view them. it is too easy to press accept. I’m sure strength of profile would have the biggest impact on this.
      Bill

  7. Glen Cathey says:

    Bill – VERY interesting findings, and quite counter-intuitive I must say.

    I quite regularly train recruiters on effective voice mail and email strategies, and my trainees often go from ~25% response rate to over 70% from people with “old” resumes, who are typically not looking – usually the toughest people to get a response from. This comes from a longer email and voice mail approach, which is highly tailored and specific. Some get >90%, BTW.

    So I find your experience with LinkedIn messages fascinating because the “less is more” approach works best, which is the total opposite of what works for me with regard to email messaging.

    However, getting someone to respond to an email is certainly (and obviously from your study) a very different thing than getting someone to accept an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, and thus join networks.

    • @BillBoorman says:

      Glen,

      Sorry i’ve been slow in replying. I think the reason for the outcome is the way invites come in now. it’s just easy to press accept or look at the profile and accept. I’m sure that the quality of your profile has the biggest impact. mine looks OK and i’m well connected. i might just set up a dummy 50% complete profile with a few connections, and see if I get the same result.
      great post on the linked In stats BTW. if you get any time, love to get a guest post from you on how to be found by a sourcer, be glad to recipricate with a guest blog.
      Bill

  8. Bill: I had exchanged tweets with Tim Tyrell-Smith and Neal Schaffer last weekend in response to Tim’s guest post on Neal’s site. I told them I had received a generic LinkedIn invite from a local recruiter and was tempted to send it back for rewrite. Consequently, it was very interesting – and timely – to read the research results in this post. (My interaction with the recruiting firm has been less than ideal so I wasn’t surprised at this recruiter’s assumption that I would know him.) I am open to invitations from relocating business professionals who are just beyond the 3rd degree relationship — just tell me how I should know you and through whom. I offer the same courtesy in my personalized invitations. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

    Also, another thought — if I get another recruiter invite, they’d better have a job opening for me to consider!

    Best regards,
    Becky Pittman

  9. @BillBoorman says:

    Becky,

    My advice, connect with everyone. Who knows where you end up. In all my social networks I work on a basis of accept everyone and then review your connections regularly. If the spam starts, they go. if they are just there to raid my contacts, they go. I don’t have to get rid of too many, and some contacts have taken 6 – 9 months to warm up.
    Bill

  10. Very interesting results here. I admit I coach hiring managers to look at LinkedIn profiles for discrepancies. Also, I’m curious why hiring managers are less likely to link after the interview… because they don’t want social guilt if they turn you down for the job?

  11. Great post Bill!

    No need to over-intellectualize LinkedIn invites. Phew! Love the KISS approach!

    Job seekers can spend their most valuable resource, their time, elsewhere.

    Cheers,

    Donna

  12. Bryant says:

    It’s great that someone actually did some research on this. The problem as I see it is that this is such a small sample size that it’s hard to call it reliable. Perhaps if other people try to replicate the experiment, we could tally up the results to see if this is a legitimate trend or not.

  13. This is so interesting. Kudos to you for breaking this down. However, I think there are probably a lot of factors at work, so I am not convinced that not personalizing is 100% the way to go. I never accept a “standard” LinkedIn invitation if I do not actually know the person, and I know too many people who feel the same way. The point that all personalized invites are not created equally is key. What you say and how you say it may impact the results significantly.

    I like to advise clients to use common etiquette and courtesy when networking online. Suggesting people send a canned invitation to connect seems to fly in the face of that. If anything, I think it would be a shame if people really did prefer to have potential connections interact as if they were all robots. I agree that more research on this topic would be important.

    I’m very curious as to how LinkedIn’s removal of the “I don’t know” reply for invites will change things. I anticipate a lot more random invites and more spam.

  14. Pingback: Changing Face Of Linked In Invites #In « Norton Folgate: The Recruiting Unblog

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