The quick answer is – yes, you can message someone on LinkedIn without a premium account. LinkedIn allows all members, including those with free accounts, to send messages. However, there are some limitations compared to premium accounts. With a free account you can only message members who are already connected to you in your network. To message new connections or people outside your existing network, you’ll need a premium account.
Messaging your existing connections
With a free LinkedIn account, you can send messages to any of your 1st-degree connections. These are people you are already connected to on LinkedIn. To start a conversation:
- Go to your Connections page and find the person you want to message.
- Click on their profile picture or name to open their profile.
- In the right sidebar, click the ‘Message’ button.
- Type your message in the text box and click ‘Send’.
This will start a message thread with that connection. You can continue the back-and-forth conversation from your LinkedIn inbox. An advantage of messaging connections is that your message will appear in their inbox directly, without needing approval.
Limitations of free account messaging
With a free account, you can only message people already in your 1st-degree network. You do not have access to:
- Messaging 2nd and 3rd-degree connections – You can see extended network connections, but cannot message them.
- InMail messages – InMail allows you to message anyone on LinkedIn, even if they’re not connected. This requires a premium account.
- Open profile messaging – Sending unsolicited messages to people who are not your connections. This also requires premium.
LinkedIn limits messaging for free users as a way to incentive upgrading to premium paid accounts. But you can still engage in meaningful conversations with your existing professional network without paying.
Starting conversations with your network
When messaging connections, focus on quality over quantity. Avoid spamming your network with generic messages. Instead use messaging to:
- Continue an offline conversation – Follow up on a conversation from a conference, meeting, or other offline interaction.
- Ask for advice – Message connections working in your industry or role to ask for their expertise.
- Give advice or feedback – Share your knowledge and help others in your network.
- Discuss job opportunities – Message connections at a company about open roles or referral programs.
- Connect on shared interests – Bond over hobbies, alma maters, volunteering, etc.
Personalized messages are always better than generic templates. Take the time to write an original note showing you care about that person’s viewpoint.
Tips for better LinkedIn messaging
To get the most out of messaging your connections, keep these tips in mind:
- Personalize each message with their name, company, shared connections, etc.
- Be clear about your purpose for messaging – ask for advice, share an article, etc.
- Add a conversational tone, as if you were talking face-to-face.
- Pose open-ended questions to continue the dialogue.
- Watch your message length – keep messages concise.
- Proofread before sending to avoid typos or errors.
- Follow up if you don’t get a response within a week.
- Respect their time – don’t message too frequently.
Avoid using LinkedIn messaging like texting or instant messaging. Your connections are professionals, so put some thought into the conversations.
Growing your network organically
Over time, you can expand your LinkedIn network organically to have more people to message. Try these tactics:
- Connections of connections – Message mutual connections asking for an introduction.
- Groups – Join relevant industry or interest groups to meet new people.
- Search filters – Use filters like company, title, education to find relevant profiles.
- Content sharing – Comment on posts and articles to start conversations.
- Events – Attend offline events to network and connect in-person.
Building your network thoughtfully gives you more options for messaging while avoiding spam behavior. Take time to cultivate quality connections.
When to upgrade to premium
At a certain point in your LinkedIn use, upgrading to a premium account may be worth it. Reasons to upgrade include:
- Messaging decision makers and executives outside your network.
- Following up on applications with hiring managers.
- Seeking expertise from prominent professionals in your industry.
- Building relationships with 2nd and 3rd-degree connections.
- Reaching out about job opportunities at desired companies.
Weigh the cost versus benefit of a paid account based on your career goals. Student and affordable Basic plans start at $29.99 per month. But you can get quite far using LinkedIn’s free messaging to maximize your existing network.
Understanding LinkedIn messaging etiquette
LinkedIn promotes professional messaging standards. To avoid missteps:
- Be authentic – no automated or bot messages.
- Use a professional tone fit for the workplace.
- Keep self-promotion limited and relevant.
- Respect privacy – don’t ask inappropriate questions.
- Respond promptly, as you would with business email.
You want your messages to start meaningful conversations, not turn people off. Review LinkedIn’s guidance on acceptable messaging behavior.
LinkedIn messaging can build connections without requiring premium access. Focus on engaging your 1st-degree network instead of trying to message strangers. Share relevant insights, provide valued advice, and foster professional relationships. Respect recipients’ time and privacy. With some strategy, you can maximize LinkedIn’s messaging capabilities on a free account while expanding your career opportunities.