The most credible way to contact people on LinkedIn
Over at LinkedIn Towers they describe InMail as ‘The most credible way to message anyone on LinkedIn’, its purpose being ‘to reach anyone on LinkedIn, no introduction or contact info required…professional, credible outreach – with your LinkedIn profile attached.’
If you are seeking new opportunities, you can use InMail to make the right impression, in front of the right people, at the right time.
What is it?
InMail is a private email feature on LinkedIn that lets you send a message directly to any other LinkedIn user who you want to contact, but are not connected to.
How do you send an InMail?
First, you need a business account – which you have to pay for.
Then, search for the person you want to contact in the search box at the top right-hand corner of the page. Advanced search allows you to refine by job title, company, location, relationship and so on. Click on the name of the person to go to their profile page, and follow the link that says Send InMail.
When composing your message, there is the option to select or deselect the Include My Contact Information box, so that the recipient can contact you, should they wish, by email and/or phone number. Tick the box depending on your preference.
Complete the Category, Subject, and Salutation fields (note that this means you don’t include a salutation in your message) and then enter a message in the box provided. And finally, click send!
Why would I want to?
Using the free LinkedIn account only allows you to message your connections and fellow group members – a limited number of people. If there is someone out of your network that you want to contact, there is the option to Get Introduced by a mutual connection. But who knows if and how long this will take? Some people are even hesitant to forward prospective enquiries to their connections and you don’t want to be too pushy! Upgrading to the Business Account ($24 per month) allows you to access InMail (3 per month) and contact those prospects immediately. InMail gives you the immediate option.
Mistakes to avoid
It is great to be able to contact prospective connections, but don’t be a pest – ensure you know your audience and make the right impression. Maintain online etiquette by only sending polite messages that are matched to the person’s listed interests. The options for these are:
- career opportunities
- job inquiries
- expertise requests
- business deals
- reference requests
- getting back in touch
Ensure the content of your message is relevant to the recipient – the result is that they should be more receptive to your inquiry (and give you a high InMail score!).
InMails are limited so make them count! Target who you want to connect with, and make your message relevant to them. You need to have a compelling reason for them to respond that fits into their needs or your common interests. Therefore be specific when searching for people e.g. by industry/location. Read their profile (all the way through) so that you know as much about them as possible. You need to give prospects something that they want, not just take take take. If you do, this will increase your response rate as well as your success rate. Regardless of the medium of communication, people want an interesting message that means something to them.
And you’ll be able to measure your effectiveness from the InMail feedback star rating system, so if you’re slumping in the one star category, then now’s the time to reassess.
What’s in it for you?
An advantage of InMails over typical ‘cold’ emails is that they provide your recipient with a context of who you are and why you are contacting them, as your LinkedIn profile is automatically attached. They can even see if you both share any connections already.
Make use of the Who’s viewed my profile function. If you’ve made your message relevant to your recipient, offered something that they want, and a lot of people are clicking though to your profile, you’re doing something right!