Receiving an InMail on LinkedIn can be an exciting experience. InMails allow you to directly contact LinkedIn members outside of your network, making them a powerful tool for recruiting, sales prospecting, and business development. When you receive an InMail, it will show up in your LinkedIn inbox in a format that is slightly different from normal messages. Understanding what an InMail looks like and the steps to take after receiving one can help you make the most of these messages. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through what to expect when you get an InMail, how to view InMail messages, options for responding, and tips for handling InMails effectively.
What is an InMail?
An InMail is a private message sent through LinkedIn to members outside of your network. Regular LinkedIn members can only message their 1st-degree connections for free. InMail allows you to bypass that limitation and directly contact anyone on LinkedIn. These messages also have high inbox delivery rates compared to other cold outreach methods.
InMails are intended for one-to-one professional communication. Some common uses include:
- Reaching out to an individual about job opportunities
- Following up after meeting someone at an event
- Introducing yourself to an industry influencer or leader
- Reconnecting with a former colleague or classmate
- Prospecting to promote your business or services
The key benefit of InMail is that it gives you a direct channel for contacting LinkedIn members even if they are outside your network. That makes InMail one of the most effective tools on LinkedIn for initiating new relationships and conversations.
What Does an InMail Look Like?
When you receive an InMail, it will appear in your LinkedIn inbox just like a normal message. However, there are a few key differences that distinguish InMails from regular LinkedIn messages:
1. Special InMail Icon
InMails are marked with a special icon next to the message preview. This icon looks like a white envelope with a blue letter “i” on it. If you see this icon, it indicates the message is an InMail rather than a regular LinkedIn message.
2. Message Preview Text
The preview text for an InMail will also be slightly different from a regular LinkedIn message preview. For example, the preview may say “InMail from Jane Smith” rather than “Message from Jane Smith”. This preview text clearly identifies the message as an InMail.
3. Sender Information
In some cases, an InMail may come from someone who is not in your LinkedIn network. The message preview will indicate this by noting it is an “InMail from Jane Smith” rather than from a 1st-degree connection.
4. Ability to Respond
With most InMails, you will have the ability to directly respond even if the sender is not in your network. Replying establishes a 1-to-1 messaging thread with that member.
5. Extra Message Features
InMails allow senders to add attachments, interactive content, and other features not available with regular LinkedIn messaging. So an InMail may contain more than just text – watch for attached files, images, or other content.
Here is an example of what an InMail looks like in your LinkedIn inbox:
|InMail from Jane Smith: Hi there, I’m reaching out about…
As you can see, the InMail icon, “InMail from” preview text, and unconnected sender are clear indicators this is different from a standard LinkedIn message.
Steps to Take After Receiving an InMail
When you see that you’ve received an InMail, what should you do? Here are the recommended steps:
1. Check the Sender
Take a close look at who the InMail is from. Do you recognize the name or company? Is it someone you would like to hear from? Understanding the sender will help you determine if it’s a message worth your time.
2. Read the Full Message
Don’t just judge an InMail by its preview. Open up the message and read it in full to understand the context behind the outreach. Oftentimes the value may not be entirely clear until you read the details.
3. Review the Sender’s Profile
Click into the sender’s LinkedIn profile. Look for things like shared connections, employment background, education history, volunteering experience, interests/skills, etc. Their profile will give you more context before replying.
4. Check for Shared Connections
See if you have any shared 1st-degree connections with the sender. Having a mutual connection can give you greater confidence in the sender.
5. Consider Replying
If the message is relevant and the sender seems legitimate, consider replying. Even just a quick note to acknowledge the message may be worth it. But be cautious about replying to messages that seem suspicious or unrelated to you.
6. Review Your Settings
In some cases you may want to limit who can send you InMail or avoid them altogether. Head to your LinkedIn settings to update your InMail preferences and filters.
7. Report Abusive InMails
If an InMail is inappropriate, appear suspicious, or make you uncomfortable, report it within LinkedIn. This gives you recourse against unwanted outreach.
Options for Replying to InMails
Once you’ve read an InMail and decided a response is appropriate, you have a few options for how to reply:
Send a Message Within LinkedIn
The easiest option is to respond directly within LinkedIn. This will start a 1-to-1 messaging thread with the InMail sender, even if they are not in your network. You can carry on an ongoing conversation this way.
Suggest Moving the Conversation Off LinkedIn
For more in-depth conversations, you may want to suggest taking things offline. Offer to continue the dialogue via email, phone, video call, or an in-person meeting if appropriate. Moving off LinkedIn often signals greater openness to further discussion.
Connect on LinkedIn (If Possible)
If the InMail sender is open to connecting, you can send or accept a LinkedIn connection request. This gives you an ongoing 1st-degree connection for easier future communication. However, InMail senders may wish to remain unconnected, so don’t assume connection requests are expected.
Politely Decline Further Conversation
It’s perfectly fine to politely indicate you are not interested in further dialogue. Thank them for reaching out but clearly state you do not wish to continue the conversation. This closes the loop on the outreach.
Don’t Feel Pressured to Reply
Bear in mind you have no obligation to reply to an InMail. If the message doesn’t interest you, it’s okay to simply ignore or delete it rather than sending a response. But be aware this may result in additional outreach attempts.
Best Practices for Handling InMails
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when receiving and replying to InMails:
- Read InMails fully before making any judgement about them.
- Quickly respond to InMails that seem promising to start a dialogue.
- Personalize your reply based on the sender’s message and profile.
- Be cautious about sharing personal contact information with unknown senders.
- Avoid spammy language and make it easy for recipients to learn about you.
- Focus on connecting around common interests, experiences, or goals.
- Follow up further if the initial exchange seems positive.
Applying these best practices will make you more adept at separating high-potential InMails from distracting ones.
Pitfalls to Avoid with InMail
While InMail provides a great way to directly contact LinkedIn members, there are some potential pitfalls to avoid:
- Mass blasting InMails instead of personalizing them
- Using aggressive sales language that may turn recipients off
- Contacting people randomly without clear rationale
- Not giving proper context for who you are
- Sending overly long InMails that people won’t read fully
- Being dishonest or misleading about your intentions
- Harassing recipients who have indicated they don’t want to engage
Falling into these behaviors will cause recipients to ignore or report your InMails, and may even get your LinkedIn account restricted. Make your outreach thoughtful.
How to Block or Limit InMails
If you are receiving too many undesired InMails, there are settings to manage them:
Adjust InMail Preferences
Under LinkedIn Settings & Privacy, adjust your preferences to only receive InMails from people in your network or disable them completely. But this risks missing valuable messages.
Block Specific Users
You can block individual accounts from sending you further messages. This is useful for repeat senders who ignore requests to stop messaging you.
Report Inappropriate InMails
Flag and report any InMails that violate LinkedIn policies. LinkedIn can then take action against accounts sending abusive messages.
Under settings, you can control what profile information is visible to non-connections. Limiting visibility reduces unwanted outreach.
Hide Profile from Searches
Another option is hiding your profile from search engine indexing under settings. This makes it harder for unknown senders to find you.
Receiving an InMail introduces exciting new possibilities for networking and outreach. Paying attention to the distinctive InMail formatting, thoughtfully replying when appropriate, and avoiding common pitfalls will help you maximize the value of these messages. Leveraging InMail effectively can significantly expand your professional relationships and opportunities. Just be sure to use care in determining which InMails deserve further engagement.