The short answer is no, you do not need a premium LinkedIn account 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 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 connection requests. When you are connected at the 1st degree, you can freely message back and forth with no restrictions.
The key benefit of a 1st degree connection on LinkedIn is that you can message them directly without needing their email address or phone number. As long as you are connected on LinkedIn, you can send them messages that will show up in their LinkedIn inbox.
Limitations of free messaging
While you can message your 1st degree connections for free, there are some limitations to be aware of with a basic LinkedIn account:
- You can only message your 1st degree connections – you cannot message 2nd or 3rd degree connections, or people you are not connected to at all.
- Your messages may be restricted by LinkedIn’s spam filters – especially if messaging someone you rarely interact with.
- You are limited to about 200-300 messages per month before hitting LinkedIn’s default limits.
These limitations mean it can be hard to have meaningful conversations beyond your closest connections. For broader reach, you may need to pay for a premium LinkedIn account.
Messaging with LinkedIn Premium
To unlock messaging capabilities on LinkedIn, you need to upgrade to one of their premium subscription options:
- LinkedIn Premium Career – $29.99/month billed annually
- LinkedIn Premium Business – $59.99/month billed annually
With LinkedIn Premium, the main messaging benefits you gain are:
- InMail messages – Send messages to anyone on LinkedIn, even if you’re not connected.
- Expanded network reach – Message 2nd and 3rd degree connections in your network.
- Larger message allotments – Increased monthly limit from 200 messages to about 3000 messages.
- Improved deliverability – Messages have higher chance of bypassing spam filters.
This gives you significantly more messaging power to contact prospects, clients, partners, and new connections on LinkedIn.
The key messaging feature unlocked with LinkedIn Premium is InMail. InMail allows you to message any LinkedIn member even if you are not connected. This lets you reach out to prospects, potential clients, and industry experts you want to build relationships with.
Each premium account comes with a set number of InMail credits per month:
- LinkedIn Premium Career: 25 InMails per month
- LinkedIn Premium Business: 50 InMails per month
You can purchase additional InMails if needed. Unused InMail credits roll over month to month. Many premium users find 25-50 InMails per month is sufficient for most messaging needs.
Who sees your InMail messages?
When you send an InMail to someone you’re not connected with, the message goes to their “Other” messages folder. They will see you sent them a message, but won’t see the content unless they accept the message request first. This helps avoid spamming people with unwanted InMails.
If the recipient accepts your message request, they can read the InMail message and reply back to continue the conversation. At that point, you can message back and forth normally.
Is LinkedIn Premium worth it?
For most individuals, the free LinkedIn account should meet basic messaging needs for staying in touch with your core professional network. But for sales professionals, recruiters, or anyone needing to reach a broader audience on LinkedIn, a premium account can be very beneficial.
The additional InMail credits and expanded network messaging alone make premium worthwhile for power users on LinkedIn. Even the lower cost Premium Career option unlocks significantly more messaging capabilities.
Beyond messaging, LinkedIn Premium provides other features like viewing full profiles, seeing who viewed your profile, taking unlimited Learning courses, and more advanced search filters. The premium features optimize LinkedIn for sales leads, recruiting, and branding.
Tips for upgrading to premium
- Try the one month free trial first to test it out
- Use Premium for focused campaigns, then downgrade after
- See if your company will cover the cost
- Watch for discounts around Black Friday and holidays
With the right approach, LinkedIn Premium can more than pay for itself in terms of sales, recruiter contacts, and other business opportunities.
Other LinkedIn messaging options
LinkedIn Group messaging
Another free way to message people on LinkedIn is within LinkedIn Groups. As a group member, you can message fellow members directly without needing to connect first. The tradeoff is you are limited to messaging within that one specific group only.
External tools and plugins
There are also third party browser tools like LinkVision and plugins like Dux-Soup that provide extra LinkedIn automation and messaging capabilities. However, these sometimes violate LinkedIn’s terms of service if used excessively for spam.
- You can message 1st degree connections for free on LinkedIn.
- Premium unlocks InMail to message anyone and expanded network reach.
- Premium also increases how many messages you can send per month.
- Premium is worth it for power users needing broad messaging capabilities.