In short, yes LinkedIn InMail can be an effective way to reach out and connect with professionals, especially those you don’t already have a connection with. However, to get the most out of InMail requires following best practices around crafting personalized messages and targeting the right recipients.
What is LinkedIn InMail?
LinkedIn InMail is LinkedIn’s internal messaging system that allows you to directly contact any LinkedIn member, even if you are not connected to them. Regular LinkedIn messaging only allows you to message your 1st degree connections.
With InMail, you can send messages to 2nd and 3rd degree connections or LinkedIn members you have no existing connection with. This gives you a way to reach out to and start a conversation with professionals you normally wouldn’t be able to contact through LinkedIn.
Who Can Send InMail?
The ability to send InMail messages is available to LinkedIn Premium subscribers as well as Sales Navigator Team and Enterprise edition customers. Here are the different options for access:
- LinkedIn Premium Career – 8 InMails per month
- Premium Business – 15 InMails per month
- Premium Sales – 25 InMails per month
- Premium Hiring – 25 InMails per month
- Sales Navigator Team – 30 InMails per month
- Sales Navigator Enterprise – 75-100 InMails per month
So if you want to use InMail, you’ll need a paid LinkedIn subscription. It is not available to basic free LinkedIn members.
InMail vs Connecting First
Some people argue InMail is not needed because you can simply send a connection request along with a note and achieve the same thing. However, InMail has a few advantages over connecting first:
- Higher response rates – People are more likely to open and respond to an InMail than a connection note.
- Avoids cluttering connections – InMail allows you to communicate without forcing unwanted connections.
- Continued conversation – You can have an ongoing dialogue over InMail instead of a single connection note.
So while connecting can work, InMail tends to be more effective especially when you want an ongoing conversation.
How to Craft an Effective InMail
Simply having access to InMail does not guarantee results. To get responses, you need to send well-crafted personalized messages. Here are some best practices for writing InMails:
- Personalize with a specific compliment – Mention their experience, company, or profile details that impressed you.
- Customize for the recipient – Tailor the message and avoid mass templates.
- Make a specific ask – Don’t make it sound like a sales pitch, but state your purpose clearly.
- Keep it brief – Get to the point within 2-3 sentences.
- Proofread carefully – Check for errors which undermine professionalism.
Personalization is crucial. Generic InMails written with mail merge get low response rates. Take the time to craft a unique message for each person.
Strategies for Using InMail Effectively
It’s not enough to write nice InMails. You also need strategies for getting results. Here are some tips:
- Target recipients carefully – Focus on those likely to reply based on role, company, interests, etc.
- Send in small batches – So you can track results and optimize techniques.
- Follow up once – If no reply in a week, one follow up is acceptable.
- Reply promptly – Being slow to respond undermines outreach efforts.
- Connect after – Offer to connect after the conversation gets started.
Don’t spray and pray by blasting out mass InMails. Nurture the conversations by responding quickly and offering to connect once rapport is built.
Ideal Uses for InMail
Knowing the right situations to use InMail increases success. Here are some of the most effective applications:
- Sales prospecting – Reaching decision makers and buyers outside your network.
- Job recruiting – Connecting with passive candidates open to new roles.
- Finding service providers – Like designers, developers, consultants, etc.
- Connecting with influencers – Leaders in your industry like authors and speakers.
- Requesting introductions – Asking someone to connect you with a shared connection.
The direct access InMail provides works well for these business development and recruiting scenarios. Personalized outreach can yield connections impossible to make otherwise.
Tips for Making InMail Less Intrusive
The biggest complaint about InMail is when it is used intrusively. This gives it a bad reputation. Avoid being perceived as intrusive by:
- Using a polite and flattering tone.
- Respecting if the recipient does not reply.
- Sending only 1 follow up if no initial response.
- Having an informative LinkedIn profile the recipient can reference.
- Staying away from hard sells and aggressive pitches.
Come across as respectful, gracious, and considerate. This makes recipients more open to the unsolicited contact attempt.
Metrics for Measuring InMail Effectiveness
To continually refine techniques, track quantitative metrics like:
- Response rate – What percentage reply to initial InMail?
- Connection rate – How many accept connection requests?
- Click rate – Percentage who click your profile or shared content.
- Conversion rate – When an InMail achieves your goal like a sale or scheduled meeting.
Ideally, you want response rates of at least 30-40%. If rates dip lower, re-evaluate targeting, messaging, and follow up.
Integrating InMail Into Your LinkedIn Strategy
Get the most from InMail by making it part of a comprehensive LinkedIn approach that may include:
- An optimized LinkedIn profile that attracts InMail recipients.
- Publishing helpful content to demonstrate knowledge and value.
- Joining relevant LinkedIn groups to expand your network.
- Using advanced searches to identify quality prospects.
- Automating campaigns through tools like Sales Navigator.
InMail works best when incorporated into a larger LinkedIn marketing and sales strategy based on providing value.
Alternatives If InMail Is Not Right for You
InMail requires a paid LinkedIn subscription that may not suit all budgets. Alternatives to connect with people include:
- Expanding your network through LinkedIn groups.
- Encouraging contacts through content sharing.
- Reaching out via other social channels like Twitter.
- Connecting in-person at events, conferences, and trade shows.
- Asking mutual connections for referrals and introductions.
It just may take more effort and time to see the same results compared to InMail. But those options avoid the monthly fees.
Should You Use LinkedIn InMail?
InMail can be a powerful way to expand your connections and opportunities on LinkedIn. But it requires investment into crafting thoughtful personalized messages and strategically targeting the right recipients.
Used properly, InMail enables you to:
- Reach decision makers and influencers outside your network.
- Build relationships with passive candidates open to new roles.
- Directly contact potential customers, partners, and providers.
If you want additional reach and access for sales, recruiting, or business development, InMail may offer value worth the monthly price. But it needs to be deployed carefully to yield results and avoid coming across as intrusive spam.