When you see some professional in any networking event and you wish to connect with them, what do you do? Would you ever walk up to this person and blurt out a question or request for his or her time, sans context, gratitude, and even introductions? This is where LinkedIn and its feature Inmail comes in handy. If you’re looking to connect with someone on LinkedIn right away and you don’t have an immediate or secondary connection with someone, you can use the InMail feature to send a message directly to another LinkedIn member without anyone else getting involved. Bearing this in mind may help you to make better use of LinkedIn’s own email messaging tool – InMail – to reach out to people you don’t yet know. If used properly, it’s one of the most effective business development tools available in LinkedIn. InMail is available to premium users only.
At first glance, an InMail might seem like any other message you can send to someone on social media, but here are four reasons it’s actually quite different.
- The sender gets context about the recipient. The more you know about your audience, the better you can target your communication for their needs. Using the information in a person’s profile enables you to craft a highly relevant and targeted InMail that will have a better chance of appealing to them.
- The sender gives the recipient context, too. When you contact someone, no matter how you do so, it’s important to convey credibility. When you reach out using InMail, you’re enabling your recipient to easily access more details about who you are by simply clicking on your LinkedIn profile. This puts them in control and enables them to get more information and decide if you’re worthy of a response.
- The sender is reaching out in a business context. When people are checking their InMail, they are usually wearing their business hat. This fact alone makes it a better environment to use for business-related messages than most social media channels. The person receiving your InMail already has an expectation that your message to them will be business-related in nature.
- InMails are scarce by design. Even with a paid LinkedIn account, users cannot send InMails willy-nilly — each user gets a specific number of InMails to use per month. This limited quantity has two benefits. First, the recipient takes the message more seriously because they know they were likely hand-selected instead of mass-mailed. Second, the sender will be more deliberate about who they send messages to, which will inherently boost message quality.
Since the emergence of InMails, professionals are showing an inclination towards InMails compared to messages and emails, however, do not confuse them to be similar. Follow some simple rules to ensure that your InMail is attractive to the people you are sending to:
- Grab the attention of the person you are sending the message to. Tell them what prompted you to reach out to them. Mention mutual connections (better yet, ask a mutual connection to introduce you).
- Show that you are selective. Highlight the points what makes them appealing to you. Compliment sincerely on their achievements.
- Be conversational and brief. Write as if you were speaking. DO NOT paste the job description. Remember you are trying to have a conversation, and not sell your product. Imagine you are meeting this person in real life, build a relationship by having a conversation first.
- Listen well. Ask about goals and interest level in new opportunities. Keep detailed notes.
- Focus on the opportunity, not the job. Frame your message around what’s in it for them.
- Time your outreach. Research shows that the optimal time to send InMails is Thursday between 9 and 10 am in the recipient’s time zone. Don’t send InMails on Saturdays – they’re 16% less likely to be accepted than InMails sent during the week.
- Be patient. Don’t hound. Use status updates to stay visible while you wait for responses.
- Include a call-to-action. Ask to continue the dialogue, not necessarily apply off the bat.
- Test and learn. Use your InMail Analytics report* to understand the effectiveness of your outreach. Adapt your InMail tactics and strategies accordingly.