Be Brilliant with People

linkedinThere’s no saying that goes, “Make every email count,” but maybe there should be. LinkedIn says we spend up to 28% of the day reading and responding to emails on our smartphones – so they’ve decided to give mobile email users everywhere a superpower: information.

This week, LinkedIn announced the release of its latest mobile-busting strategy – a new app called LinkedIn Intro that integrates LinkedIn profile information directly into your iPhone’s Mail app (or Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, and iCloud—no Exchange support at the moment). The app embeds LinkedIn information, like profile pictures and headings, seamlessly into the body of an email, just below the subject line. Take a look:

intro

A simple one-click drop-down menu then allows you to view even more information, like employment history, mutual contacts and education. You can even add people to your LinkedIn network straight from your email – all without leaving ever opening another screen. Techhive offers a really good summary of how Intro works here.

As someone who gets cold-emailed (is that a thing?) often, I can see how a little extra information at one’s fingertips would be useful in helping people “be brilliant with people.” Basically, Intro lets you tie in all kinds of relevant business and personal information on the fly, as if you were attentively following along – all along.

In those terms, the handiness of the app could potentially set LinkedIn up to be a permanent appendage in the daily email exchanges of many – and no longer just a static website waiting for visits.  That is, except for the fact that’s it been met with some (ok, A LOT) of skepticism.

The question going around (and around) is this: Would you proxy your email to get LinkedIn headers?

Security researchers have taken issue with the way the app works. Intro redirects e-mail traffic to and from users’ iPhones and iPads through LinkedIn’s servers, then analyzes and scrapes those e-mails for relevant data and adds pertinent LinkedIn details.

Researchers liken that redirection to a so-called man-in-the-middle attack in which hackers, or more recently, intelligence agencies, intercept Internet traffic en route to its destination and do what they will with it.

— From bits.blogs.nytimes.com

For its part, LinkedIn has responded to some of these criticisms in a blog post and is directing traffic to their Pledge of Privacy.

As for me, I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I’ll be taking a test drive of LinkedIn’s newest mobile feature. I need a bit more time to seriously consider any unresolved security implications before jumping on board. But for now, at least, the app does have me reflecting on two important reminders:

More than ever, you’ll want to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and impressive: As Techhive writes, “Since you don’t know which of the people you email will be using Intro, it’s a good idea to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and relevant, and don’t be shocked if you see an uptick in invitations to connect.”

Be Brilliant With People (with or without LinkedIn Intro): Really successful apps hit a nerve or fill a need. The desire to be recognized and communicated with in a respectful and meaningful manner? Yep. Don’t fire back an email at someone without stopping to think about who they are, how you might help them, what connections or past history you have with them and vice-verse.

Whether or not the concept behind LinkedIn Intro will fly, the extra moment of consideration that the app builds into the email experience is golden.