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LinkedIn Messaging Part II: The Dangers of Asynchronous Communication (including email)

August 13th, 2014

Yesterday I wrote a post titled Why You Shouldn’t Message Me On LinkedIn. The main argument was LinkedIn’s lack of auto-reply feature, which means that even if I set up a vacation message in my email, I can’t do that in my LinkedIn messaging system (aka, inbox). Note to LinkedIn: if you are going to “fix” that, please let me also create an “email signature”…!

Anyway, in the comments, Lamar asks about sending gmail messages, and getting those bounce back. He argues that his gmail activity is less reliable then sending messages via LinkedIn…

SO WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER?  

Let me clarify that I’m not solely talking about technological success (whether the message you sent was actually received in the person’s inbox).  I’m talking about whether the reader will actually see the message.  Having something sent to the mailbox, but filed in spam or junk, is a failure.  In my opinion, sending something to someone’s Gmail account and having it not be in the Primary tab is a failure.  I use the Gmail corporate service for my JibberJobber email, and I find that too often my @JibberJobber emails are not received by the recipient, because their email spam filters don’t like Gmail’s DNS servers (and perhaps other things that Gmail is doing).  That is lame and unfortunate… Gmail should clean that up. BUT, there are too many factors (like the 3rd party email blacklists, which sometimes are created by some shady guy with no ethics and a chip on his shoulder, working in a poorly lit apartment with energy drinks and empty pizza boxes strewn around his lonely room).  Nothing you can do about that.  Too bad corporations give his input any value :(

In communicating with a human being, though, the real issue comes down to asynchronous communication.

Has anyone ever said something like “why didn’t you do that think I asked you to do?  I texted you!

Um, maybe because I didn’t get the text?!?!

But I texted you!

Sounds like a weak argument, doesn’t it?

When you really need communication to happen, you need to confirm it happened.  Just because you texted someone doesn’t mean that (a) their phone registered the text, and (b) they say the text.

One definition of asynchronous is “not occurring at the same time.”  That, my friends, is text, email, LinkedIn messaging, etc.

In a face-to-face conversation (or phone call, chat, etc.) you have someone who says something, and someone else who can respond immediately.  Even if it is through body language, the response, or the conversation, is “occurring at the same time.”

If you want to know if someone heard you, you can ask “did you hear me?”

If you want to know if someone saw your text/email/message, you could ask them.  Or you could wait for them to respond.  But you can’t assume that any asynchronous communication is going to be received and read (much less responded to) immediately.

Check out this quote, in an article talking about asynchronous communication:

“Sometimes people have to wait hours, days, and even weeks to get a response to a message or feedback…”

It really doesn’t matter what method of asynchronous communication you use, there will always be the element of a gamble (did the user get the message??).

In yesterday’s post, I recommended you not send me a message through LinkedIn, if you really want to get a response from me (or have me see your message).  But really, any other method, except face-to-face, will have similar risks.  I just find that my email is much more reliable than the LinkedIn messaging system, and how my email system interacts with it.

Which gamble are you going to take?

And how can you ensure your communications are being received and responded to?

3 Comments »

3 responses to “LinkedIn Messaging Part II: The Dangers of Asynchronous Communication (including email)”

  1. Tom Staskiewicz says:

    Jason,

    As a society we have become too “high-tech” and put all of our faith into technology. Sometimes we just need to break down and use the telephone or a meeting to ensure the message has been delivered and hopefully understood.

    Text messages, like email, do not use an underlying guaranteed delivery technology. If your recipient is out of their coverage area, turned off, no service, has their phone on “do not disturb” or “airplane mode” the text messages go undelivered. If you leave a voice mail that’s different and when the recipient regains service the voice mail will come through.

    If you send email you may get a delivery failure or you may not. The only way to increase your chances that you know the email was delivered is to use the delivery receipt or email read option with your email and even those can be intercepted and their reliability thwarted.

  2. Jason Alba says:

    Good points Tom, and I agree that even the read receipts are flawed…

  3. Lamar Morgan says:

    One interesting option is http://www.twoople.com. It’s phone or computer texting taken to the next level. And, it’s free. What makes it nice is that only the person who is seeking feedback has to have an account. Therefore, it is IDEAL for inclusion in email signatures. Therefore, whether the responded email finds its way to the SPAM folder or bounced back to the sender undelivered, you have a nice alternative that works 24/7.

    Want to try it out without having an account? Text me at http://twoople.com/lamarjmorgan.