I just wrote an email to a friend about how to use LinkedIn’s InMail system more effectively. I thought it might be valuable to the rest of my network, so I’m just pasting the whole shebang here. Have at it:
I really believe LinkedIn is a great tool, and cold emails are a tough thing to do well. The InMail trick isn’t so much of a trick as just a little insight into the way the system works so that you don’t go wasting time and money. Here’s the deal in huge wall of text format:
InMails are like private messages that you can send to contacts you’re not connected with. The drawback is that they’re contained within the LinkedIn system, which people who aren’t actively using LinkedIn (i.e., people who aren’t job seekers or recruiters) don’t check nearly as often as they might check something like Facebook. They cost a credit each, and are expensive, but they’re totally worth the investment because of the way people receive them. Each sender has an “InMail Feedback Score” that determines how LinkedIn notifies the recipient.
Your InMail Feedback Score is determined by how many of your recent InMails have been received positively, so the only way to build your feedback is to use the feature (which costs money). Here’s a little blurb about the feedback score. “Received positively” means that your recipient either responded to your InMail or ignored it. The only way they can respond negatively is by flagging it as an inappropriate use of the medium.
So, if your recipient has the default notification settings and your score is three stars or higher, the recipient will receive a notification EMAIL about the InMail. This is the value: by sending the InMail, you’re actually sending them an email to their primary email account (because almost nobody would sign up for LinkedIn with a dummy email address). By reaching their email inbox, you can attract the attention of people who are not actively using LinkedIn (basically most people who aren’t doing a good job of networking/job hunting/recruiting).
Looking at that blurb I linked, it looks like they’ve increased the requirements to reach this threshold to three stars, which means at least seven positive responses out of the last ten InMails sent. To check your score, go to the main Settings page and click on the question mark icon in the InMails box.
To reach the feedback score required, you need to send InMails, which cost money. You can only send InMails to people you are not connected to. The obvious way to gather the feedback is to just go about your business and send InMails as needed and eventually reach the required threshold to get the score. But that takes a long time and you’re not taking advantage of the feature while you’re doing it.
Create a bunch of dummy accounts/ask friends who you aren’t already connected to to help. Send them InMail, wait a week, ask them to reply to the InMail. You wait a week because after a week of no response, the InMail credit is returned to you and you can use it again. (You can’t use that credit during the week of waiting, though.) You still get the positive feedback.
Create a bunch of dummy accounts/ask friends who you aren’t already connected to to help. Send them InMail and reply to the message immediately. The credit will be used, totally gone, bye bye, but you’ll be able to improve your feedback score immediately.
One recommendation: don’t “unfriend” somebody, send them an InMail, then try to reconnect with them. I tried that and ran into all sorts of problems.
This is not a silver bullet. It’s just an insight into the way the system works. Lots of people might send their first InMail and get no response and assume it’s a really expensive scammy email system. But, if they sent their InMail to somebody who’s not an active LinkedIn user, their recipient probably isn’t even aware of the message yet. If they had their feedback score high enough, however, that message would have made its way into their recipients email inbox—much better response rate.