You can only send LinkedIn messages to your first-degree connections. To contact someone who's not in your network, you'll need to send an InMail.
The InMail feature is only available to Premium and Sales Navigator users. Depending on your plan, you get 3 (Career) to 30 (Recruiter Lite) InMail credits per month.
How to Send an InMail
1. Find the LinkedIn user you want to contact.
Use the search tool in the top left-hand corner of the page to search for the person you'd like to reach.
2. Go to their profile.
Once your search is complete, click on the user’s name and navigate to their profile page.
3. Click the "Message" button underneath their headshot and headline.
If you don't have a Premium, Recruiter, or Sales Navigator plan, clicking this button will prompt you to upgrade.
4. Write your InMail message.
The InMail message is a conversation starter. Keep your message short and to the point, use a conversational tone, and let them know what prompted you to reach out.
5. Customize every InMail message you send.
When you reach out to someone for the first time on InMail, make sure you do a bit of recon beforehand so you can write a customized message they will actually respond to. Make sure you spell their name correctly, acknowledge that you're familiar with their work or industry, and start a natural conversation from there.
LinkedIn InMail Samples and Templates
If you have Recruiter, LinkedIn lets you create up to 500 InMail templates (and even share them with your coworkers). Everyone else can still use templates -- you just need to save them somewhere that's easily accessible and then copy and paste them into the InMail composer box.
InMail Examples and Template for the Recruiter and Hiring Manager
Trying to bring new talent on board? Whether you're a dedicated recruiter, the hiring manager, or an entrepreneur, make your InMail customized and compelling.
This InMail is effective for several reasons.
It's enthusiastic and human-sounding.
It comes from the CEO, which naturally makes me sit up and pay attention.
It makes the company seem like a great place to work and drops some impressive growth stats.
It uses a soft close ("Let me know what time works for you"), assuming I'm interested.
It's highly scalable -- note this InMail could work for any content marketer.
Here's a similar template:
Hi [candidate name],
I came across your profile while looking for successful [insert job title, e.g. "SaaS salespeople"] who are clearly [adjective 1 and adjective 2, such as "driven and tech-savvy."] You fit the bill. I think you could be a great fit for a [function, like "sales"] role at [company] -- we're [growing fast, just raised $X in funding, currently #1 in Y space, etc.]
I'd love to chat with you for a few minutes about the opportunity. Let me know when you're free.
This recruiting InMail is also a great example. It's incredibly concise and manages to get the point across in a few lines. Rather than describing the job or mentioning any specifics, this message is intended to determine my interest.
For the same effect, try this template:
[Candidate name] -- Impressive background and profile. We need a stand-out [job title] like you [to help with X objective, on Y team]; is that something you'd be interested in discussing? Let me know if you're open to a call.
Job Inquiry Example and Template
When you're applying for a job, a good "backdoor" strategy is finding someone with a similar or identical role on that team and reaching out for advice.
Not only will they often offer to refer you -- which gives you a huge boost in the application process -- you can get inside information on the culture, requirements, and company.
Here's the message I sent Lindsay Kolowich when I was applying to the HubSpot Sales Blog writing position (it's an email, not an InMail, but could just have easily been sent via LinkedIn):
This message works because:
I connected with Lindsay over Twitter first, so she was expecting my email.
I show I'm a fan of her work.
I make it easy to answer my questions.
Here's a template that uses the same techniques:
Hi [employee name],
[Insert commonality or compliment here, such as, "It's great to connect with someone else who's written for TechCrunch," or "I sent all of my coworkers your primer on SSL -- best guide I've read!"
I'm interested in [company's] open [job title] role, and since you [have been at company for X years, work on the Y team, are doing great work there], I'd love to get your thoughts. Would you be open to answering 3-5 quick questions? It would be so appreciated.
Some candidates also directly reach out to the hiring manager. Beware, career expert Alison Green warns this method can actually backfire. Put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes: You're incredibly busy, and you're getting a request for "more information" that's a thinly veiled attempt to differentiate yourself or "jump the line."
The job description almost always has enough information, and applying is a strong indication of interest -- so there's no need to reach out beforehand or simultaneously.
Connecting InMail Example and Template
You likely come across people all the time who would be incredibly handy to have in your network. If you want them to respond, be helpful, friendly, and complimentary.
Apart from getting my name wrong, this InMail message is well-executed.
It offers a fantastic reason to connect -- I'll gain potential sources for content.
It's cheery, easy to read, and short.
This template was inspired by the above message:
I'm [a big fan of your work, impressed with your career, an enthusiastic listener of your podcast, etc.] and would love to connect on LinkedIn. If you ever need help with [X specialty] or [Y area of expertise], I'd be glad to offer a hand -- or introduce you to someone who can.
Press Outreach Example and Template
Getting bloggers and journalists to write about your startup, product, or experience is no small feat. You'll have the best odds if you quickly and succinctly describe why this is a print-worthy story.
This InMail got my attention because:
It references details from my profile.
It demonstrates the sender did research.
It ends with a short, simple question.
Try this template:
Hey [writer name],
I've read and really enjoyed several of your articles on [topic] -- especially like how you [did X]. (I also noticed [detail from profile], which is pretty cool.) Since you have the [topic] beat, I thought you might be interested in hearing about [insert pitch here]. I think [publication's] readers would find this story intriguing because:
- Reason #1
- Reason #2
What do you think?
LinkedIn InMail Tips
Make a small request.
Spark their interest.
Explain why you're reaching out.
Make it about them.
Don't make them do work.
1. Be direct.
LinkedIn says simple, straightforward messages get more responses.
2. Make a small request.
Asking for too much too soon will scare people off.
3. Spark their interest.
Use your InMail to start a conversation.
4. Be natural.
Try to sound like yourself. Write like you're talking to a coworker over coffee.
5. Explain why you're reaching out.
Speak to their ego by mentioning what drew you to their profile or qualifications.
6. Make it about them.
Rather than talking about how they can help you, discuss how you can potentially help them.
7. Don't make them do work.
Linking to a job description or your product page is presumptuous and won't help your chances.
Using terms like "connect," "talk," "chat," "follow up," and "discuss" all positively boost the probability of a reply, so try to include a line about having a conversation.
But keep them vague
Typically, HubSpot advises making your call-to-action as specific as possible, e.g. "Are you free at 2 p.m. tomorrow for a 15-minute call?" But LinkedIn's data shows specificity is actually bad for your response rates. Before you offer a date and time, mention a salary range, or provide your email address, gauge your recipient's interest. If they bite, delve into the nitty gritty.