Reinventing LinkedIn with InMail

Marketing VP and LinkedIn Co-Founder Konstantin Guericke just gave me the go-ahead to share this exciting information about a major new functionality that’ll be added to LinkedIn a few weeks from now! Here’s what he shared about InMail and how it’ll work. As for me, I can’t wait to be able to really tap the power of the entire LinkedIn member database, not just the subset my contacts are in touch with…
As you know from my prior posts and requests for input, we�ve been working on the design for key improvements to LinkedIn in the areas of search and making contact as well as providing for a sustainable revenue model and allowing everyone to understand what premium services are being charged for.
Next month, we�ll be launching the ability to search beyond your personal network and to contact people through InMail. In addition to results from your personal network, you will be able to see the best results from the entire LinkedIn Network. For example…

For example, you will be able to search for people by name and find them, whether or not they are in your personal network. When you run searches for people where you don�t know their name (e.g. searching by keyword), you will have access to a second tab to see the best results of the LinkedIn Network. To protect members from cold calls, the names of the people outside your personal network will not be shown, but people who upgrade to a premium account can contact them through InMail.
InMail will deliver the message directly to the intended recipient, and InMail recipients can choose whether or not to disclose their name and contact info to the sender based on the request, the profile of the sender, etc.. InMail recipients will also see how many of the last 10 InMails from the sender were accepted vs. declined. InMail will also be available to contact people three degrees away (but not two degrees away).
InMail should be offloading the number of introductions people have to make on behalf of their connections. Also, we will be limiting personal networks to 3 degrees�this should also reduce the number of introductions people need to make and will avoid the discomfort of making introductions where you know neither the sender or receiver. When someone is asking for an introduction to someone three degrees away, as the introducer, you will always know either the sender or the receiver and the other person will be a friend-of-a-friend.
InMail will by default be batched, so members will receive InMail at most twice a week. There will be the option to only read InMail only on the LinkedIn site and to not be shown in LinkedIn Network results and to not receive contacts via InMail. Pricing will be announced when we launch next month.
People can continue to search (using all parameters) their personal networks and request introductions to anyone within their personal network free of charge.
Search results in the personal network will be sorted by degrees of separation and then by relevance (rather than number of connections). For results in the LinkedIn Network, sorting of results will be entirely by relevance.
We�re expecting this new premium option to be used by power searchers like recruiters, analysts, etc. for whom time is money. It will avoid issues these customers face related to not finding the right people, timeliness of response, request getting stuck at a node, concerns about requests going through unknown people, etc. The overwhelming number of members will likely remain with the free version. In the future, we will be enhancing the free, personal version along with premium services, like LinkedIn Jobs, LinkedIn Services, LinkedIn for Groups and LinkedIn Premium Accounts.

2 comments on “Reinventing LinkedIn with InMail

  1. LinkedIn needs to move forward.
    The present model assumes a certain type of relationship and application (job search or similar using a trusted network of friends).
    For those of us who are more transaction oriented (rather then looking for a job) and where the topic is a bit esoteric having a way to more directly contact someone with a stated interest even though there is no connecting network makes a lot of sense IMHO.
    Taking this a bit further…
    If I am going to pay for a service I would like that service to help me reduce the number of people I contact and generally track what searches I have run, who is new vs who I have looked at (and passed on or sent a message to), etc. I do not want to bother people. I would like to know that if I spend some time searching and trying to find a match the system can help me remember what has been done and where I left off.
    If InMail lets me realize the value for time invested in reviewing individual profiles and repeated serarches to narrow the a charge is fine wiht me.
    On a different note, I do find that when I am in the middle of a request chain and I do not know the ends I tend to forward it on. I am assuming that the person receiving it at the end is an adult so they can hit the decline button. If it is a request that they would want and I do not know them I feel it would be wrong to not pass it on. InMail will reduce that type of request according to Konstantin. I agree (like my vote matters).
    John Corey
    Chelsea Private Equity LLC

  2. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for getting permission to post this development to the general public and for soliciting comments. Here are mine:
    1) Because InMail will be a service which is not cheap, there will still be people furiously adding connections because they won’t want
    to pay for the premium service.
    2) Limiting trusted network connections to three levels will actually add more fuel to fire to add connections, because people without the premium service will all of the sudden find their reach is
    exponentially more limited due to the loss of the fourth level.
    3) There are those who complain that LinkedIn does not allow one to see everyone’s profile and does not allow them to contact everyone directly. They see InMail as a great innovation. I don’t completely understand these complaints. If a registered LinkedIn user wants everyone to see their profile and enable anyone to contact them directly, they can do so today by configuring their contact settings to accept requests without referrals.
    I assume the fact that most people haven’t chosen this option is due to either one or two reasons:
    a) They don’t want to be seen by everyone, or
    b) They don’t know about the option to override the default setting of not being seen by everyone.
    If 3a is an issue for a particular person, then exposing this person via InMail may drive them to leave the service. However, making the InMail service a premium service may limit the number of requests via this channel and therefore not turn off a lot of people.
    If 3b is an issue for a particular person, then education is the key. Perhaps LinkedIn could highlight this feature somehow. I’ve just done
    my part to evangelize this option by posting a blog entry about it, including benefits and step-by-step instructions:

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