3 Simple Steps To Becoming An InMail RockstarJun 01, 2021
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a recruiter, or a financial advisor, we’re all selling something. Sure, the process may look different across industries, but no matter what you’re selling—from a company culture to a product or service—you have to start by generating leads. If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably already know that LinkedIn is a powerful platform for networking. But, maybe you didn’t know just how effective it can be for lead generation. In upcoming articles, I’ll be pulling back the curtain on how to generate leads with my insider tips for making the most of your network. To kick it off, I want to start by zooming in on one powerful LinkedIn feature: InMail.
LinkedIn lingo can be confusing, so let’s begin with a few definitions:
InMail is a type of direct message you can send to people with whom you’re not already connected. The only way to get access to InMail credits is through a paid LinkedIn subscription.
Messages, on the other hand, are always free and can only be sent to your immediate connections.*
*Caveat: If your recipient has an Open Profile or you are in the same group as them, then you can message them directly.
LinkedIn offers several tiers of paid subscription plans, and each comes with a different number of InMail credits ranging from three to 30 messages per month. (You can compare plans and find out if you should pay for LinkedIn with my free guide here.) InMail recipients have 90 days to accept or decline your InMail using either suggested language from LinkedIn or their own original reply. If they respond in either fashion, that InMail does not count toward your monthly InMail credit limit.
Now that you know what InMail is, I want to help you rock it and get a higher chance of receiving a response back. With these three simple steps, you’ll be well on your way.
1. Know when (and when not) to use InMail.
Understanding when to use InMail is critical to your success with the tool. Just because you can use InMail to send anyone on LinkedIn a message doesn’t mean you should. Be thoughtful about who is the right recipient for InMail. That might mean using the right filters to find people with relevant job titles, or limiting your InMails to people who are clearly active on the platform already. These few decisions will help create more traction and efficiency in your InMail process.
With a few rare exceptions, InMail should not be the first touchpoint in your sales process. Instead, use InMail to further connections you’ve already nurtured. The best way to reach a prospective client through InMail is first to create a genuine connection. Remember, if you’re able to add someone to your LinkedIn network, you won’t even need InMail to send them a direct message. There are cases, however, when InMail provides just the right nudge to cement your other attempts to connect. For example, if you’ve already sent someone a LinkedIn connection request to no avail or have interacted with the person in other ways, InMail can be a great way to follow-up or get back on their radar again.
In contrast to other sales tools, InMail is not the place for a generic “blast” approach. Instead, take the time to tailor your message to the single person you’re trying to reach. If you don’t know much about him or her, consider that InMail may not actually be the best way to share your message.
2. Be aware of InMail etiquette.
Just as you would in a face-to-face conversation, be respectful of people’s time in your InMail. Keep your message brief, friendly, and focused on the way you can help. Always aim to come across as genuine. Before you press send, ask yourself, “Will this message be clear, helpful, and actionable for the person on the other end?” If not, take a step back to consider how you might rework your words.
For bonus advice on writing your InMails, check out LinkedIn’s checklist for InMail success:
Use a compelling subject line.
Make it about them.
Start a conversation.
Keep it short.
Offer next steps.
In the same vein, avoid using InMail as a space to shine a spotlight on yourself. Too often, I receive InMails from people I don’t know who spend five or more paragraphs telling me all about themselves. No one likes a “show up and throw up” message. The reality is, you’re more likely to receive a response when you can demonstrate how your next steps—whether that’s a phone call or a connection—might be mutually beneficial.
Sometimes, my clients sheepishly reference “LinkedIn stalking” their prospects. I’m here to tell you, doing your research is okay! Your prospects, like everyone else, want to feel known. Taking the time to understand a person is actually a great way to create a real connection.
3. Understand how InMail fits into your broader sales strategy.
As with all LinkedIn features, InMail is just one tool among many. It should never be your primary or only strategy for generating leads. As you begin using InMail, continue showing up in other ways. Pick up the phone or send a personalized connection request. Better yet, meet up over Zoom or face-to-face.
You’ll also want to define what success looks like for you as it relates to InMail. It’s okay if not every one of your messages receives a reply. Perhaps, try aiming to get half your InMail credits “back” to use for new messages. As with many aspects of sales, timing is everything. Although you can’t necessarily anticipate perfect timing, you can be on the lookout for social triggers, like a recent promotion, job change, or engagement with your posts, that will make your message resonate more. Relevance is key to generating a response. Don’t be too hard on yourself when the time just isn’t right for someone to move forward with a conversation right now.
Of course, warm leads are always best. I’d encourage you to identify ways, either with InMail or other tools, to build up your referral engine. Consider how you might increase introductions from existing happy clients and connections. Even in the absence of a handoff from a mutual contact, you can warm up your prospect before you press “send” by engaging with them in other less direct ways. Spend some time liking or commenting on their posts or gathering some personalized facts before you InMail.
All of these InMail tactics provide greater proof that you actually care about that person. At the end of the day, people can sniff out false enthusiasm. It really is all about being authentically interested.
Did you know you can get access to InMails at any of the LinkedIn premium subscription levels? Whether or not you are paying for LinkedIn, you would likely agree that you should know what you’re paying for, right? Our latest guide gives you clarity on what you get with each subscription so that you can make the right investment for your needs. Get clarity here.