Rule Number One For Getting More Out Of LinkedIn InMail

Use them.

This is pretty obvious when you think about it, but bear with me for a moment so I can provide some context.

As someone who spends a lot of his day involved with InMail, I have found four broad categories of InMail users on LinkedIn.

The tiniest category of InMail users are the ones who use it all the time and are  successful with it.

The next smallest category are the people who use InMail and have a little success with it. Their attitude seems to be that “what the heck, we get twenty of these things each month in our premium subscription, we might as well use them.” Their attitude is that any responses they get to their InMail is a bonus, a windfall.  

Then there is the “fire, fail, and forget about it” crowd. These folks have tried using InMail, failed miserably, given up, and just ignore the InMails they receive from LinkedIn each month.

And lastly, the biggest group are InMail users who never use InMail at all. They either don’t understand how to use it, or they haven’t figured out where it fits with their other outreach efforts, or both.

So the vast majority of InMail “users” aren’t users at all. They have either given up or never tried.

And that is the biggest mistake InMail users make: they don’t use their  allotted InMails every month. And as the celebrated philosopher Wayne Gretzky once said:

              “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”

How will you ever get better with no practice? You get sharp at using InMail by actually using InMail. By experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I have one InMail message I have been using for over two years. I have probably made a couple hundred tweaks and changes to it as I constantly experiment, trying to find the optimal wording.  

To a lot of LinkedIn users, InMail is a dirty word and practically interchangeable with the word “Spam”. But that’s because most InMails are just embarrassingly  bad sales pitches. LinkedIn users will take a message they wouldn’t dream of sending via email and think nothing of sending it via InMail. Then they are mystified when they get no response.

A badly written InMail is spam.

A well written InMail is one where I stop and go, “That’s interesting.” I may respond, I may not. But it wasn’t spam. 

If you are a premium Linkedin subscriber, you have paid for these InMails. Get out there and use them. But use your brains. Try different wordings and calls to action. Experiment, experiment, experiment. If you are a Sales Navigator user, you get 20 InMails a month (and some plans get more). Going from zero to just a measly five percent response rate will bring you one extra conversation with a prospect every month for each sales rep on your team with a Sales Navigator subscription.

So take some shots. You may not score as often as Wayne Gretzky, but that’s better than watching from the bench.   

 

Goldilocks And The Three Bears’ LinkedIn InMails

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One day, Goldilocks was out for a walk in the forest, and she came upon a cottage. Going inside she found three tables with three laptop computers, all with LinkedIn accounts open on their screens. Each screen had an InMail message on it.

She went to the first screen and read the InMail, where the sender had made a naked sales pitch, asking for a meeting to showcase their product.

“Eww,” said Goldilocks, “this person doesn’t care about what my problems are, it’s all about her! This InMail is just too hot!” And she ignored the InMail.

Then she went to the second computer, where the InMail sender hoped that the recipient liked their message.

“Yuck,” said Goldilocks, who as a pre-adolescent didn’t have much of a vocabulary, “there is no call to action here, just some wishy-washy grovelling at the end. This InMail is way too cold.”

So she went and looked at the third laptop, where the InMail contained some ideas of value to the recipient, and ended with a pointed call to action to start a conversation between the sender and the recipient.

“Yowza,” said Goldilocks, “this InMail is just right!” And she was about to type in a response to the beautiful InMail when the three bears, who owned the little cottage returned, yelled “WTF are you doing with our LinkedIn accounts?” and ate her.

The End

Moral of the story: Keep your InMails short, so that the recipient has time to respond and get away before being eaten.

Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Okay, okay, alternate moral: Have a call to action that…  

  1. Is appropriate for your message. For example, if you want to get a face to face meeting as a result of your InMail, your message had better be incredibly good.
  2. Is a real call to action. Being overly solicitous and asking someone to reply when they have time isn’t going to get you the response rate you want.
  3. Doesn’t make “no” an easy alternative. If you can get your recipient to want more – more information or more explanation – that makes “no” a tough answer.

Why Do As Many As 75% Of Outreach Messages Fail on LinkedIn?

a-empty-home

No One Is Home.

LinkedIn announced Q3 2016 results a couple of weeks ago on October 27th. There are now 467 million LinkedIn members. They also announced 106 million unique monthly logins, which sounds great until you realize what that means. 106 million people now log in once a month or more often than that. The flip side of the coin is that 361 million people log in less than once month. Think about that for a second or two…that’s 361 million people, some of whom may log onto LinkedIn once before New Years. Many of them will show up once between now and the Spring. And many won’t really show up at all.

If you send a LinkedIn message today to someone you would really like to speak with, but if they are one of the 361 million, the odds are pretty poor that they are going to respond to your message.

Why? Because they will likely ignore it. These are people who don’t use LinkedIn very often. They don’t “get” networking. They have never seen the value in using LinkedIn regularly, and they still don’t. So messages from LinkedIn are more likely to just be ignored. This is what I mean by your outreach failing because no one is home.

  And in an oblique way, LinkedIn acknowledges this problem.  I think it is instructive that if someone responds to your LinkedIn InMail you get a credit for a new InMail to use with another LinkedIn member. How long does LinkedIn give them to reply? Ninety days. It sounds to me like LinkedIn wants to give them every opportunity to show up and respond, but they aren’t that confident either.

So you can knock on the door, but if no one is home…what can you do?

Your homework.

Before you reach out to someone, go to the recent activity part of their LinkedIn Profile and look for two things: number of followers and recent activity. If someone has 1200 followers and you can see they are active posting and responding to other people’s posts, you can feel comfortable that they appreciate what LinkedIn has to offer and will likely respond to your message. It may not be the response you want, but at least you will know where you stand.

On the other hand, finding someone with 41 connections and no activity is the kiss of death. Likelihood of this person responding is effectively zero.

What else can you do about it? Be realistic and use alternatives. If you are confident in your email abilities you can try emailing them. Or you can try  approaching the target company through someone else at the company who does look approachable.   

The bottom line is that no matter how fabulous a candidate may seem to be for your product or service, you are going to have a really hard time getting the attention of someone who is not there.

Learn to recognize low probability situations and don’t invest your time in them.