The short answer is no, you do not need a LinkedIn Premium subscription to send messages on LinkedIn. The basic free LinkedIn account allows you to send messages to your 1st degree connections without any limitations.
Sending messages with a free LinkedIn account
With a free LinkedIn account, you can send direct messages to any of your 1st degree connections. Your 1st degree connections are people you are directly connected with on LinkedIn, either by sending or accepting a connection invite. So if you want to reach out to someone you are connected with, you can simply send them a message and they will receive it in their LinkedIn inbox.
There are no limits on how many messages you can send to your connections with a free account. You can send as many messages as you want to your connections. The recipient will be notified of your message and can reply back to start a conversation thread.
So in summary, with a free basic LinkedIn account you have full messaging capabilities to contact any of your existing 1st degree connections. No premium subscription is needed for basic messaging between connections.
Limitations of free LinkedIn messaging
While you can freely message your own connections with the free account, there are some limitations to be aware of:
- You cannot message people who are not already connections. To message new people you need to send them a connection invite first.
- You cannot send InMail messages, which are direct messages to people outside your network. InMail requires a premium account.
- You have a limited number of connection requests you can send per week, based on your account status.
- You may not be able to message some connections if their settings don’t allow messages from free accounts.
So the main limitation is that you can only directly message people who are already within your 1st degree network. If you want to reach out to new people, you’ll need to connect with them first before you can message them.
Do you need Premium to send InMails?
While you can freely message your existing connections, if you want to message someone who is not already a 1st degree connection, you will need a Premium account in order to send them an InMail message.
InMail allows you to send a direct message to anyone on LinkedIn, even if they are not in your network. But to unlock the ability to InMail anyone, you need to upgrade to a premium subscription.
Some of the key benefits of InMail with Premium include:
- You can send messages to people outside your network to introduce yourself or pitch an idea
- Your message goes directly to their inbox rather than a connection request
- Higher response rates compared to basic connection requests
- View read receipts to see if your message has been read
- Use customized templates to save time
So while basic messaging works between existing connections, if you want to reach new people outside your network, a premium account is required in order to message them via InMail.
What LinkedIn Premium plans include InMail?
If you do decide to upgrade to premium to access InMail messaging, there are a few different subscription options to choose from:
- Premium Career: Includes 5 InMails per month
- Premium Business: Offers 15 InMails per month
- Premium Sales Navigator: Includes 30 InMails per month
- Recruiter Lite: Offers 50 InMails per month
- Recruiter: Unlimited InMails
So if you only occasionally want to message people outside your network, the Premium Career plan may suit your needs. But for sales professionals who need to prospect new leads, or recruiters who need to contact candidates, the higher level plans provide more InMail capacity.
It’s also possible to purchase additional InMails a la carte if you ever go over your allotted amount in a month and need more access temporarily.
Tips for messaging without Premium
If you don’t have a Premium account, here are some tips to still effectively message and contact people on LinkedIn:
- Connect with people you want to contact before messaging them.
- Personalize your connection requests to increase acceptance rates.
- Engage with content from your target connections to stand out.
- Join relevant LinkedIn groups that your targets are in.
- Comment on your connections’ posts and activity to open conversations.
- Create and share content that would be valuable to your targets.
While you may be limited to only messaging existing connections, there are proactive steps you can take to expand your network and connect with the people you want to contact. With some effort, you can build relationships and open messaging channels without needing a paid Premium account.
Is Premium worth the cost?
At the end of the day, whether or not Premium is worth the cost comes down to your specific messaging needs and budget.
For most professionals who only need to occasionally message their own connections, the free account should suffice. But if you regularly need to contact prospects or candidates outside your network, the value of paid InMail capabilities may be worth the premium investment.
Factors to consider include:
- How frequently do you need to message people outside your network?
- What level of response rates do you need to achieve your goals?
- How much time do you currently spend trying to expand your connections?
- Is your business willing to fund a premium subscription if it brings in new opportunities?
Running through scenarios of when you would use InMail can help estimate potential value vs. the monthly or annual cost of premium access. Test out the free trial first before committing to weigh the benefits.
Other Premium features
While InMail messaging is the primary reason many upgrade to premium, some other notable features include:
- Who Viewed Your Profile: See who has viewed and researched your profile recently.
- Salary Insights: View estimated salary ranges for jobs to negotiate better pay.
- Skill Assessments: Validate your skills by taking assessments to showcase on your profile.
- Premium Badges: Display badges like “Open for” and “Hiring” to attract opportunities.
- Expanded Search Filters: Target your searches by company size, location, and other filters.
There are also learning courses, expanded profile views, and branding customizations included. So if any of these premium features would substantially boost your LinkedIn presence and opportunities, upgrading may make sense.
To recap the key points:
- You do not need a Premium account just to message your 1st degree connections.
- InMail is needed to message people outside of your network.
- Various Premium plans provide different allotments of InMails per month.
- Weigh the costs against your specific messaging needs and goals.
- There are also other Premium features like seeing who viewed you profile and salary data.
- Proactively build your network before messaging to maximize free account abilities.
Ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all answer – you need to evaluate the benefits against the costs for your circumstances. But with the right strategy, it is possible to effectively use LinkedIn for outreach and networking even with just a free account in many cases.