A wish list for Linkedin

Just like the mosquito, which a cartoonist sardonically depicted as the national insect, many of us have probably grown immune to or learnt to live with those marketing text messages too. Not to forget those nocturnal beeps from your telephone service provider reminding you about a bill that you have already paid with a courteous disclaimer to ignore the message, if you have paid up; never mind the wake-up effect. Enter the new Linkedin brigade whose requests to join your professional network often flood your mail inbox (if you’ve subscribed to e-mail notifications) at odd hours. How I wish Linkedin — otherwise a boon to professionals, acts on this wish list.

Suggestion 1: Weave in a prominent ‘Do Not Disturb’ option that will hopefully work better than the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) answer to the tele-marketing menace. The icon to send a request to connect with someone by indicating that you are a friend is being misused by many users to touch base with perfect strangers. There are also programmed reminders to further get on your nerves! If you dig deeper into Linkedin’s features (I’m not sure how many would be inclined to do that in this fast-paced world) there are also advanced settings like adding your email address to its ‘Do Not Contact’ list for non members who don’t want to receive Linkedin invitations via your e-mail address. My point is: how visible are these options?

Suggestion 2: How about a more honest approach — ‘We haven’t interacted’ that could go out with a template message ‘but may I join your network?’ Right now, there is a confessional option ‘I don’t know xyz’. Click on that button and you get the rule book thrown at you! “Invitations should be sent only to people you know personally.” Fair enough. But why have that option in the first place?

Suggestion 3: As users are allowed to send up to 3,000 invitations, how about a count window on the page to monitor the limit? It would help if users can keep a regular track of invitations sent, accepted and pending. The number of connections too, seems frozen at 500+ in many cases. Why not the actual number, like the Twitter box score of tweets, following and followers.

Suggestion 4: I have always maintained that blocking people, unless absolutely essential, defeats the purpose of networking. Now, there may be folks who are not your friends, or colleagues or classmates or with whom you’ve never done business with, but you’ve bumped into them at some place or were introduced by a common friend. An option ‘We’ve met before’ with a provision for a footnote to fill in the blanks, will make sense. Business potential can never be wished away and can emanate from chance encounters.

Suggestion 5: In a country where most borrowers are known to sign promissory notes wherever an X mark is made without even filling in the amount, much less reading the fine print, or people writing their PIN behind ATM cards despite being warned not to, Linkedin must not assume that its users would take the trouble to browse through its exhaustive options. How many Linkedin users are aware of options to turn on\off their activity broadcasts, to select who can see their feeds, their connections to manage their recommendations and select the types of messages they are open to receiving? Let the site do a spot poll to find out. I reckon not more a quarter of its users would be adequately clued in. Why not have these features highlighted in blue at appropriate places on the home page itself?

Finding a way to communicate these features to its users, I feel, will benefit the site more than offers to upgrade to a premium account and teasers to unlock the whole list of people who viewed your profile. The logic is that if someone is really interested in it, they will find a way to reach you. Now go check your missed calls and unread mails!

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