Two of the main ways to connect and communicate with other members on LinkedIn are through InMail and connecting. Both allow you to reach out to new connections, but there are some key differences between the two.
InMail is LinkedIn’s internal email messaging system that allows you to contact any LinkedIn member, even if you’re not connected. Sending an InMail doesn’t require the recipient to follow or approve you first. Connecting simply adds another member to your network of connections. To connect, the other member has to approve your connection request first.
So InMail is for messaging members without already being connected, while connecting is for building up your network. But there are more differences when it comes to how each works and how they can be used.
What is InMail?
InMail is LinkedIn’s premium internal email messaging system. With InMail, you can contact any LinkedIn member without needing to be connected first. Some key things to know about InMail:
– InMail allows you to send private messages to any LinkedIn member, whether you’re in their network or not. No connection is required.
– Recipients don’t need to approve connection requests first before receiving your InMail. You can message anyone.
– InMails show up in the recipient’s LinkedIn inbox, similar to an email.
– You can only send a certain number of InMails per month depending on your account type. Additional credits can be purchased.
– InMail messages have high deliverability and response rates compared to other outreach methods.
– InMail is considered a premium LinkedIn feature. A paid Premium Career subscription is required to send InMails.
– With InMail, you can make initial contact with people you want to connect with, such as recruiters, prospects, potential partners, and more.
What is Connecting?
Connecting simply refers to sending connection requests to add other LinkedIn members to your professional network. When you connect, you become a 1st-degree connection. Here’s an overview:
– Connecting allows you to build up your 1st-degree LinkedIn network.
– To connect, the other member must approve your connection request first.
– You can send customized connection requests with a note.
– There’s no limit on how many people you can connect with.
– Being connected lets you view each other’s full profiles and contact each other.
– Connecting is free for all members. No paid account required.
– You can connect with colleagues, classmates, coworkers, employers, potential hires, and anyone you have a relationship with.
– Your network unlocks opportunities to get introduced through shared connections.
While both InMail and connecting allow you to reach out to new people, there are some notable differences:
The main difference is that InMail doesn’t require approval to contact members, while connecting does. You can send InMails to any LinkedIn member without being connected first. But to connect, the other person must accept your request before being added to each other’s network.
InMail is for messaging. Connecting is for visibility. With InMail, you can directly contact LinkedIn members through private messages. Connecting doesn’t allow messaging itself, but being connected lets you message each other afterward.
InMail has credit limits that require purchase. Connect requests have no limits. You can message any number of people with InMail as long as you have credits. But connecting is free and unlimited.
InMail preserves privacy. Your message goes to the member’s inbox without broadcasting a public request. Connect requests must be approved first before gaining access to message.
InMail is better for outreach to strangers. Connecting is better for strengthening existing relationships. With InMail, you can reach out cold to new prospects. Connecting reinforces bonds with people you already know.
When to Use InMail vs. Connecting
Deciding when to use InMail versus connecting depends on your purpose and the type of relationship you have with the other member.
Use InMail to:
– Make initial contact with members outside your network
– Message prospects, recruiters, potential partners, and strangers
– Introduce yourself or pitch opportunities to new connections
– Increase visibility with members who you share no existing connection
Use connecting to:
– Grow your LinkedIn network with coworkers, friends, family, acquaintances
– Keep in touch and strengthen existing professional relationships
– Gain visibility and access within your industry and role
– Leverage your network for introductions to 2nd-degree connections
Here are some examples of when to use each:
|Messaging a recruiter about job opportunities at their company
|Connecting with former coworkers from previous jobs
|Introducing yourself to a potential client outside your network
|Adding managers, colleagues, or clients you currently work with
|Reaching out to a speaker or panelist after an event
|Connecting with college alumni or classmates on LinkedIn
|Contacting a prospect who you have no prior relationship with
|Growing your network within your industry
Pros and Cons
Both InMail and connecting have their own sets of pros and cons.
– Contact any member without a connection
– Higher response rates than cold email outreach
– Messages go directly to recipient’s inbox
– Perceived as more personal and credible
– Requires a paid Premium account
– Limited number of credits per month
– Higher cost to purchase additional credits
– No guarantee the recipient will respond
– Free to connect with other members
– No limit on number of connections
– Grows your professional network organically
– Opens doors to new opportunities
– Connection requests can be ignored
– Need approval before contacting
– Don’t stand out in crowded connection inbox
– Not effective for cold outreach
LinkedIn itself recommends using both InMail and connecting strategically for different purposes. Here are some of their best practices:
Use InMail to:
– Make first contact and introduce yourself
– Follow up after connecting with someone
– Reach out after meeting someone in person
– Share an article or post relevant to their interests
– Keep conversations going to build the relationship
Use connecting to:
– Interact with connections by liking and commenting on their posts
– Join common groups and participate in discussions
– Explore shared connections to ask for introductions
– Leverage your connections to expand your network
– Endorse connections for relevant skills to support their profiles
Following LinkedIn’s guidelines can help maximize the benefits of both features. The key is using them for suitable situations.
InMail and connecting serve complementary purposes on LinkedIn. The main differences come down to:
– Paid feature for messaging anyone
– No approval needed from recipients
– Limited number of credits
– Free way to build up your network
– Requires approval to contact
– Unlimited requests
Use InMail to cold message new prospects and introducing yourself. Use connecting to strengthen existing professional bonds and expand your inner circle.
Combining both strategically can take your LinkedIn game to the next level for networking, lead generation, recruiting, and building visibility. Just remember to use each feature for what it’s designed for.