LinkedIn’s Growth Tactic and a Non-Ideal Error Message

Recently I noticed that LinkedIn was suggesting that I connect with people who shared zero professional connections with me. What was odd was that I actually knew of these people but had only had one or two email exchanges with them in the past. How on earth did LinkedIn know that I knew these people and that we had any type of a connection whatsoever to begin with? 

At first, I thought something sneaky was going on and I even entertained the laughable notion that LinkedIn was reading my email. As silly as it sounded I still went ahead and did a Google search for “does linkedin read my email” to see what popped up. 

LinkedIn Contacts 4

I clearly wasn’t the first person to have noticed this strange phenomenon. After scouring through the top links, I realized that the simplest explanation was that I had, at some point, unknowingly fallen for the old “share your address book with us” trick by clicking a button on their site and now they had access to my Gmail address book. The good news was that there is a way out of this predicament. The first step is to go to the following link:

So here’s the tricky part: In order to delete the list of emails that LinkedIn has on file associated to my external address book, I have to go to the first page of the flow where they gain access to my various email address books. So be careful here – as you might end up achieving the opposite goal of what you wanted to accomplish. Once you go to this page, click on the link in the top right corner that says Manage imported contacts

LinkedIn Contacts 1

Next, you will be taken to the page to view your contacts: 

LinkedIn Contacts 2

By default, all of your contacts are pre-selected, and if you scroll to the bottom of the page you will see a button in order to delete all of the contacts. 

Not too difficult right? Well, actually, after clicking this button, I received the unfortunate error that I’m trying to delete too many contacts at a time:
LinkedIn Contacts 3

In short, LinkedIn somehow collected my Gmail contacts from me without me realizing it, does not offer a user-friendly way to remove the collected contacts, and once I found the page to actually remove the contacts, LinkedIn will not let me do that (unless I remove them three or four at a time) because I’m “trying to delete too many contacts at a time”. Not very user friendly. 


New Feature for LinkedIn: Refer a Connection

One of the most prominent use cases for LinkedIn is an email from a recruiter who is pursuing you as a potential candidate for a role they are sourcing. Here’s an example: 


In the event you respond that you are not interested in the role, recruiters will often follow up and ask you if you know anyone in your network who would be a good fit for the role. Here’s an opportunity for LinkedIn to automate this functionality by having a separate CTA that lets you refer someone in your own network. Consider the following draft mock: 



By clicking through, the user would have the ability to specify one or more connections in his/her own network to be referred to the recruiter. On the other end of the transaction, the recruiter will receive a LinkedIn message including the profiles of the referred candidates. A classic win-win-win situation. 


An Enhancement to LinkedIn Connections of a Connection Pagination

I was browsing through the connections of one of my own connections on LinkedIn. In other words, this is the equivalent of going through a friend’s list of friends on Facebook. 

Here’s what I saw. I’ve blacked out the profiles that take up most of the screenshot, but the key part to observe is the numerical pagination at the bottom of the screen:


What struck me about this design is that the pagination is not very intuitive. How on earth do I know what page 4 has, and what page 34 has? The whole purpose of including these various options for the user is to make it easier for the user to find what they are looking for. In this case, I would be much better served if there were links to alphabetical letters representing the different last names of my colleague’s connections. That would be an entirely more intuitive approach. 

Going back to the analogy of comparing this to Facebook friends of friends. That page is currently designed by using progressive loading of the page that eventually loads all of the friends of my friend. LinkedIn can use a similar approach (which they already do in their newer People You May Know page) or they can use alphabetical pagination for a more user friendly experience. 


LinkedIn Glitch Counts Nonexistent Messages

Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen something very annoying and incorrect in my LinkedIn account. On logging in and going to my home landing page, I saw that I had two messages in the header icon:


After clicking on the icon, I was taken to the Messages Inbox:


So apparently LinkedIn thinks that there are two messages in my inbox, but they are nowhere to be found! This is quite annoying as I will never have an accurate read as to how many messages are in my inbox and what needs my attention.

An Enhancement to the LinkedIn Profile Page

A LinkedIn profile is a lot like an online resume – users can list details about their current and previous education and employment. Similar to a high-level summary located at the top of a resume, LinkedIn provides a snapshot view of your entire profile in module at the top of the page:


In the Education section of the snapshot, LinkedIn lists out the different universities you have attended. What is very strange about their current treatment is that they do not list out your major or the degree achieved. This becomes especially strange when your are one of the many people who have attended the same school for undergraduate and graduate studies. In the profile above, Stanford University is listed twice. This looks funny because it’s not really telling the viewer the significance of why the same university is listed twice.

Looking further down the profile, we can see that this person did in fact go to the same university for two different majors and degrees:


As an enhancement, LinkedIn should list out the degree attained for each school listed in the education section of the profile snapshot. Here is one way they can do that:


Unnecessary Error Message in LinkedIn Twitter Flow

After signing into LinkedIn, you are taken to a personalized Home page. At the top, similar to Facebook, you will see a status update share module. In the bottom right hand corner of the module, near the Share call to action, you will see a checkbox to share the same status on Twitter. 


If you are using this feature for the first time, you will be taken to a page hosted by Twitter that asks for your Twitter credentials and permission to have the LinkedIn web app post to your Twitter account:


By clicking on the Cancel, and return to app link, you are taken back to LinkedIn, but you are shown the following unnecessary error message: 


The correct user experience would be to either show one of the following: 
1. An informational message upon returning to LinkedIn
2. Not showing any informational or error message upon returning to LinkedIn 


LinkedIn People You May Know Invite/Connect Flow Lacks a Step

When you go to a user’s profile page on LinkedIn, there’s a large button you can click on to connect to that user. On click, you will see:


Before sending the invitation, you are required to specify how you know the person i.e. is the person a colleague? classmate? or just a friend?

There’s at least one other way you can connect to people — through the “People You May Know” module in the top right of the main landing page. Here, there is a “see more” option that will take you to a full page dedicated to “People You May Know”.

On this page, LinkedIn is giving you suggestions of people to connect with. Here is an example:


By clicking on “Connect” I expected to be taken to the same page as shown above — namely where I can specify how I know this person. However, I see the following treatment:


What is interesting here is that the user is not required to specify how they know the person they are trying to connect with.

My reactions:
1. I don’t like the inconsistent user experience. It doesn’t make sense where in one flow I’m asked for this extra information and in another flow I am not. If there’s a compelling reason to ask for this information, it should be included in both flows. If there is no compelling reason, it should be removed from both flows.
2. Given that this extra step is not in the new “People You May Know” page, intuition says this piece of information is not vital. Given that, I do like the fact that it is left out and the end-to-end experience for the user is shortened. Having this functionality makes it possible to keep the user on the People You May Know page without having them leave. Thus, they’re more likely to connect with other recommendations on the same page.

LinkedIn Education Sub-Module Lacks Details

Noticed something strange about the LinkedIn Education Sub-Module in my profile page:


It lists out the fact that I went to UCLA two times. At first glance, this may seem like a product bug. Why would it list it out twice? Upon further review, it’s clear that the reason why this is the case is because one mention is for my undergraduate degree, and the other is for my graduate degree. 

This confusion can be easily avoided by displaying the degree earned (ideally with the major) in the sub-module itself. 

An Enhancement to the LinkedIn Connection Confirmation Email

After someone accepts your connection request on LinkedIn, you are sent an automated confirmation email. In this email, you see a snippet of the user’s connections. These are people that you may already be connected to, or new people out of your network. 

When you click on the “connect” call to action for any of these users, you are taken to a page where you can submit a request to be connected with the user.

Here’s the part that doesn’t make sense to me. The part above the “connect” call to action where the user’s name and job headline is listed is also clickable. My expectation upon clicking on that part of the email was that I would be taken to that user’s public profile page – or their main page if I’m already connected to them. However, what happens is that I’m just taken to the same connection request page. This doesn’t make much sense to me as what I really wanted to do was to learn more about this person – and not to submit a connection request. And, the connection request functionality already exists with the “connect” link. 

If I were to enhance this email, I’d lead two outgoing links from this module. One to request connection as it already exists, and one to take you to the user’s public profile page. That would be the more intuitive user experience.