Four Advantages Of Using LinkedIn Inmail Over Email For Cold Outreach

I was going to write about three advantages, but I thought of a fourth as I was editing this post. It’s at the end.

The closed system

The first advantage is that InMail takes place within the confines of LinkedIn’s closed system. This makes it safer for users to open, and less likely to contain malware and viruses and other nasty stuff. LinkedIn users can be more confident opening an InMail message from another LinkedIn user.

The possible hooks

One of the great aspects of LinkedIn and Sales Navigator is that the same place you can send those InMails from is the place where you can do the research that can give you ammunition to use in those InMails.
When I am going to send someone an InMail, I am doing research in three places: that person’s LinkedIn profile, the profiles of his or her obvious company peers (that I have found using Search in Sales Nav), and their LinkedIn company page. In all of these areas I am looking for hooks, information I can use that will help me get a response. For example, I have commented on how someone took what appears to be a hard turn in their career fifteen years ago (“I see you went from IT into sales. I would love to hear the story behind that career move.”) Or I will see something on their company page such as their headcount is way up in the past year (or way down!). Either of those two extremes can give me instant ways of couching my message, appealing to their growth or their need to cut costs.
These things don’t always jump out at you, but there is usually something there you can use.

The Tacit Approval

What almost no one knows is that you can opt out of receiving any InMail messages. In sending thousands of InMails I have never run across one of them. People seem to accept that part of the price of using LinkedIn is that non-connections may send them messages. They don’t have to open them, but they will show up in their inbox.

The user who is more likely to respond

This is my secret InMail weapon. I have found that LinkedIn users who use LinkedIn a lot are more likely to “get” LinkedIn, and are more likely to be open to receiving a message from a stranger. This makes sense. So I wondered how I could identify those people and it turned out to be pretty easy. I just look for people with lots of connections  – which I can see on their profile – and even more so, I look for people that are active on LinkedIn – which I can also see through their profile.
If I find someone with two thousand connections who shows up on LinkedIn once or twice a week and comments on posts or shares other people’s posts, I like the odds that if I send him or her a message that they will read it –  and of course it will have the hooks we just talked about in it. But if I send a message to a LinkedIn user who has two hundred connections and doesn’t look like they have been on LinkedIn for months, well that person doesn’t “get” LinkedIn and my odds of them ever even seeing my message let alone responding to it are awful.
And the bottom line?
My experience is that when I send outreach emails and outreach InMails with the same message, the ones I can send to active people get a 14% higher response rate. And that makes the effort worthwhile.

One Disadvantage About Using LinkedIn InMail For Cold Outreach

No sunscreen? Yes, that’s a disadvantage.
The disadvantage is your perception of what InMail is.
Here is the awful misconception many LinkedIn users have when they start using InMail: a method for sending messages to prospects on LinkedIn that pretty well guarantees a response.
They start using InMail thinking it is some magical method that somehow – because it is InMail – will cause otherwise rational business executives to respond to a message like some kind of Walking Dead Zombie.
So thinking that a response is pretty well guaranteed, the sales type sends generic “aren’t we wonderful, let’s do a phone call” cookie cutter stuff with just the name changed at the top.
And they get no responses. And they blame LinkedIn and InMail and just about everything except the real culprit: themselves.
Simply put, here is what InMail is: a method for Premium LinkedIn users to send messages to people they are not connected with on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is like email: your message needs to be really really good for you to stand out from the crowd and earn a response.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you are willing to put the time in to do it well, InMail can be very very rewarding. How good? My response rate runs in the 60-65% range. That’s the culmination of sending several thousand InMails over the past five years and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
I am going to talk a lot about InMail over the next few months, and give you ideas and best practices that you can put into use.
And one other thing: LinkedIn has three big advantages over email. I will talk about those next week.

The Open Profile Hack For Sending Free Messages On LinkedIn

Nice, but definitely not free.


Did you know that you can send messages for free to some LinkedIn users that have Premium subscriptions? They are called Open Messages, and most people don’t even know they exist. 

Any premium LinkedIn member can choose to be “Open Profile.” If someone is Open Profile, they can be sent a free message, called an Open Message by any LinkedIn member. 

This is an elective choice that Premium members can make on their accounts. But if you were paying for a LinkedIn premium membership, wouldn’t you want to make it easy for people to contact you? I have a Premium Subscription myself and I get a half dozen messages every month from people who would not otherwise be able to contact me through LinkedIn. 

Open Messaging is a little sneaky. 

If you have Sales Navigator or a Business Premium Account you will be shown people who are Open Message. On their profile will be a green box that says “OPEN”, just to the right of the gold colored “IN” badge. Click on “Message” and a message box will appear. 

For free LinkedIn users, there is no OPEN designation visible, you have to click to send a message and you will find out then whether that person can be sent a free message or not. 

A ways back I ran an intensive outreach campaign. Over a four week period I sent just under two hundred outreach messages to second and third degree connections. I looked for Open Profile people in my searches and just sent my outreach messages to them. Yes, in essence I sent almost 200 InMails…for free.

This isn’t something you can use every day, in every situation. But any time you come across someone interesting or in a search with a premium subscription, it is worthwhile clicking on “message” to see if you can send them one for free. 

Take your edges where you can get them. They add up.

Subscribers to my “Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics” newsletter saw this post a couple months ago. If you are interested in subscribing to may of my three newsletters on using LinkedIn for sales and marketing, click here.