1) Check Daily Activity: Before you send an InMail message, take a few seconds (literally!) to see if the person is active daily on LinkedIn. If the prospective contact has a sparsely populated profile, no status update activity over a two week period, and very few connections (i.e. under 40 or 50 connections), that person is probably not a prolific LinkedIn user. If the person is not a daily user, they will unlikely see your InMail until they log into LinkedIn — and who knows when that will be. Send your InMails to active users of LinkedIn to increase your chances of it getting read, as those users probably have the LinkedIn-generated emails (InMails being one form of those) forwarded to their regular email account, which, again, will increase the likelihood of the email being read.
2) Adhere to Social Norms: When crafting your InMail content, make sure to use the same social norms that you would use in cold calling, in-person networking, emails, and other forms of relationship-development communication tools. Those same relationship etiquette rules apply to the use of InMails. Be polite–’Please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way. Be specific—Don’t embark on your whole professional history in this initial message. Don’t be too forward, too fast–but be direct. Keep it short and sweet. Show interest in the person you are speaking to/emailing by including why your request may be beneficial to them (if it truly will be).
3) Be Appropriate, Brief, and Actionable: Make sure you are asking for appropriate-level information (about their experience, advice, or opinion) in a short, actionable request. For example, if the person you are InMailing is someone you have never met before and have no mutual connections, asking that if they know of any job openings to refer to you may be too forward for some recipients (and will likely be ignored or deleted — sorry!). Instead, use flattery in a modest manner.
4) Approach Others as You Would Like to be Approached: As a general guide, think about how you would want to be approached and use that as your guideline for approaching others. To drive this point home, would you ask someone to marry you upon meeting them for the first time? Would you want someone to ask to vouch for them in a professional setting, when you have not met them before? Again, use LinkedIn InMail as a relationship starter with new contacts and not as a transactional exchange or a deal closer.
5) Short and Sweet: Keep your request brief… Less really IS more! Long manifesto requests rarely get read (Think about it, how motivated are you to read lengthy emails from people you do not know? Or people that you DO know, for that matter). Asking a short, actionable question makes it easy for the person you are asking to say yes and help you. If appropriate, I suggest composing a short note to ask for an exploratory conversation, comment on a post they made, or suggest a 10 minute phone call.
6) Check Your Own Profile First: Optimize your own profile, so when the recipient looks at your profile (and I promise they will!) attached to your InMail, they are impressed with your background and the choices you have made to present yourself. When I am approached with an InMail request asking me for a favor or pro-bono assistance, if I look at the person’s profile and see that they are not professional in their LinkedIn presentation, it can make me wonder about their judgment and it can slow down my response. (See: Cleaning Up & Polishing Your Online Image.)
7) Do Some Research: Before sending the InMail, see if you can find other contact information for the person and reach out to them using that other means (Email, Twitter, Facebook, etc…). By reaching out to the person using another medium, maybe a medium the person tends to use more, you are preserving your InMails for times when you really need it and increasing the chance of receiving a response—which is what this game really is all about.Having access to InMails are very helpful, but given the limited amount members receive and the limitations the format brings, it is important that they are used properly to bring about desired results. Simply having access is not the answer. While you are guaranteed responses for the allotment you are allowed, you can receive credit from those InMails that do not receive a response and send InMails to different contacts until you receive a response. It is best to write the best possible InMail to increase your chances of getting a response from the first person to whom who reach out. Use them selectively and wisely, ensuring you are positioned properly to attract the right people and improving odds of their response. If you are interested in working with Lisa Rangel, an accomplished executive resume and LinkedIn Profile writer, LinkedIn Job Seeker Group Moderator and job search consultant, to achieve the social media exposure and land the interviews you want, sign up for an exploratory call now and learn about how Chameleon Resumes can help.
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