In our earlier post Is it worth sending customized LinkedIn invitations? we suggested that customizing invitations can be a waste of time. Fortunately LinkedIn changed some things around and the invitations which contain a personalized message are more pronounced now. When someone receives your invitation with your custom, personalized message it will stand out from the others in the list.
Also, since they can reply to your message, basically you can start a conversation with people even if they are not your direct connections. Of course, this applies only to your first invitation message, you are not able to send more unless they accept your invitation or reply to your initial message. It’s great, because if they are at least a little bit interested in connecting with you, they can just ask you what do you want, who are you, where are you from etc, and during the conversation they have the option to accept your connection request.
As you might noticed, LinkedIn is changing the user interface regularly, they are constantly running experiments to streamline the user experience. Sometimes it turns out good, just like in this case with the attached invitation message, which was long due to fix.