LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks on the planet today. Used primarily for business networking and sales, LinkedIn boasts some impressive numbers. As of May 2019, over 630 million people use the network, with two new people joining it every two seconds.
One of it's most popular features is InMail, a feature which allows users to send messages to others they are not directly connected with. It requires a premium LinkedIn account to use.
The feature can be invaluable to job seekers, recruiters and potential new clients. However, it is also ripe for abuse and missed potential. To that end, here are five tips that can help make sure your InMail message is read, understood, valued and acted upon.
5 LinkedIn InMail Tips
Do Your Research
Blind cold calls are no longer necessary - LinkedIn allows you to have a wealth of information available at your fingertips. A quick glance at someone's LinkedIn profile reveals a slew of information, including work experience, educational background, professional accreditation and personal interests. You can use this information effectively in your InMail.
However, you may not have access to that person's profile. That's okay: Google is your friend. Research information about the individual in question, and their company. What is their educational background? What do they do out of the office? Does their company have an "about" page which reveals this information, or are there other sources through which you can obtain it?
Personalize the Message
Remember, all of the researched information in the world won't do you any good if you fail to use that information appropriately. To that end, here are a few thoughts:
- Make sure you are sending a message to the right person: The scattershot approach to InMail doesn't work: It's rude and ineffective. Before sending any message, make sure you are sending the message to the right person or the right company. The last thing you want to do is waste anyone's time.
- Emphasize personal connections: In the course of your research, you may discover that you have a common educational or work experience as the person you are messaging, have similar interests, or are part of the same LinkedIn group. If that's the case, emphasize that commonality in your InMail.
- Incorporate your research: Make sure to take the information you glean and use it in the message. Discuss the other person's background, and make sure to bring the subject back to how you can help them in some way.
- Personalize the subject: "Hello, how are you?" or "Looking for a new product?" are terrible subjects and practically begging to go unread. Instead, make sure you personalize the subject: Use the person's name, company, position or something which will catch your target's eyes and make them open the message.
Decades ago, the famed writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie developed critical sales techniques which are still used today. While he pioneered many principles, one of his most powerful ones was this: Be other-focused. A key rule of sales and networking is that no one really cares about you. Fundamentally, everyone really cares the most about themselves. That's why it's always best to listen, rather than to talk.
To that end: How can what you want to accomplish with your InMail help the person you are messaging? What need of their's can you fulfill? For example, if you're looking for a job, don't discuss your own accomplishments in a vacuum. Instead, mention what you do, what you've done, and steer the conversation back towards fulfilling the needs of the person you are messaging.
Everything you send must focus on the other person. Don't focus on yourself, no matter what message you are sending.
Be Quick and Direct
Being other focused is about more than the content of the message: It's also about the length. Do not write a novel. Instead, get right to the point: Introduce myself, discuss how you can help, make your ask and leave with a call to action (more on that below).
Remember, people like quick, easily consumable content. For example, did you know that the best length for a blog post - at least, if you want people to read all of it - is just 300-600 words?
Remember, no one wants to be stuck in a conversation with a wordy person. Get right to the point and respect your target's time.
Contain a Call to Action
No InMail is going to be complete unless you complete with a direct message about what you are looking for. For example, if it's a sales pitch, you should add something like, "I'd love to talk more with you about this product. Would you be available for a brief, five minute chat so I could learn more about how we may be able to fulfill your needs?"
Always leave contact information, including phone numbers or Email address, just in case the person prefers to communicate out of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn's InMail tool can be tremendously useful if utilized properly. Generic, unclear messages won't do. Remember, largely as a result of the busy world that we live in - a reality which is compounded by social media - our most valuable resource is no longer our money. It's our time and attention. Respect the time and attention of the person you are mentioning, and you will dramatically increase the odds of sending a successful message.