LinkedIn InMail Messages That Get Results

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 11.25.26 AMA common mistake I see LinkedIn users making is not keeping InMail and invitations personal. In other words, don’t use InMail as another direct marketing message. It shouldn’t feel like another piece of spam for cheap prescription meds. If it does, you’re doing it wrong.

LinkedIn with its InMail tool does a good job of allowing you to create targeted, meaningful messages and save them as templates for tracking and future use. The following list will help you craft messages that get results. 

I commonly get over 35% response rates on messages I send.

  1. Write a compelling subject line.
  2. Don’t assume too much. I’ve even written something like, “Forgive me if I’m missing the mark here…”  Be a little bit vulnerable.
  3. Ask for help. LinkedIn is a community of professionals who like good karma and are willing to help because they know somewhere along the line the favor will be returned. Plant and harvest later or elsewhere.
  4. Identify the connection you have with the person(s) and reference it in the opening lines of your message.
  5. Be casual and personable, but not gimmicky.
  6. Tell them where, when, and what — the what being the most important thing your organization is trying to achieve with this position. In other words, the key performance objective.
  7. Promote your employee value propositionor the best one or two things about a career with your company.
  8. Don’t include the job description or tell them too much. Include just enough to appeal enough to their interest or willingness to help in order to create a dialogue.
  9. Ask for a brief dialog over email, chat, or an old-fashioned phone call.
  10. Ask for referrals if the opportunity is not right for them.
  11. Ask for a direct connection and offer to help them in any way at any time.

Here’s a sample InMail message containing these elements…

Subject Line: (Specify the industry) Career Connections

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  1. Tell  them why you’re contacting them and ask for help: I reviewed your profile today and found we share some commonalities in the (industry). Forgive me if I’m off target here, but I thought you might be able to help.
  2. Specify the position, location, and the key performance objective: We’re looking for a (insert position/skill set) in (insert location) — ideally someone with experience in (type of work/processes/technology) and who can (paint a picture using the most important position performance objective — or the most important thing one could achieve in the position and how it will make a difference).
  3. Promote your EVP: The best thing about working for us is that you (insert the best thing and make it personal).
  4. Ask for a dialog: Let me know if you have interest and we can talk live.
  5. Ask for referrals: If the timing or fit is not right, please let me know who you recommend.  
  6. Ask for a direct connect: Also, please connect with me directly (insert email address). Perhaps I can be of help to you in the future. 

Other tips for continued LinkedIn Recruiter sourcing success:

  • Save your message as a template and track its results in LinkedIn Recruiter Reports.
  • Connect directly with those who reply to your message, even if the opportunity is not right for them. By connecting you may be able to be of help to them in the future.
  • Look through their connections for those who have similar skill sets and ask for an introduction.
  • Save your search and go back later and see which of the top potentials did not respond. Perhaps they have not visited LinkedIn in a while or maybe they’ve been on vacation. In this case, call for them directly at the company where they work.

Thirty-five percent may not sound like much, but keep in mind targeted direct mail (that paper stuff we get in our mail boxes) only gets a 4% rate of response. I’m sure some of you do even better, which is great. If so, I hope you will comment with your best practices.


21 Comments on “LinkedIn InMail Messages That Get Results

  1. Thanks, David. How many InMails do you send typically out for the 35% RR? When I sent out 1,580 InMails in one week with complete information (rather long), I got A5% response, and about 3/5 of those said they weren’t interested in ANY job, though I only sent it to those who indicated they were. This is how I learned that you have to”OPT-OUT of the “interested in a job” setting, and not “OPT IN”, so most of your InMails are going to people who’re not interested IN ANYTHING. When I made a very brief message, I increased it to 20% on over 400 InMails…



  2. Keith: That’s a good amount! I think the other key is to find the commonalities whether they be industry, common location, shared companies, common friends and/or shared groups.

    In LinkedIn Recruiter you can see a relevancy percentage, meaning how closely you (the sender) match up with the recipient. My most recent results show I sent:

    357 InMails, 75 accepted, 6 declined for a 22% rate.

    Thirty-three percent had something in common with me. Response rate seems to typically run ten to fifteen percent lower than Commonality (Or How Personal Is It?). I’ve been doing some searches that are out of my comfort zone lately so my score is a little off from the article.

  3. Thanks, David. This is interesting and useful. If we had that”commonality” function last year, I didn’t know about it.


  4. Over the last 7 – 8 years I’ve been recruiting on Linkedin, BY FAR the most successful email / invitation to connect I’ve used and still use is this:

    “Hi XXXX,

    We haven’t spoken before but I’ve just read your profile with interest and was wondering if we could have a chat about an opportunity I’m working on please?

    I’d also like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.



    When I use this, I honestly get about a 50 – 75% positive response rate depending on the territory. It’s not clever, I wrote it in a rush but the reason, I’ve come to realise, it works is that there is no reason to say no, plus it’s short enough to read and respond to right then and there.

    I don’t mention the job, the location, the company, the pay, nothing. I guess it just appeals to people’s curiosity and they want to find out more. Then when I’m speaking to the candidates on the phone, I have a proper opportunity to tell them about the role I’m recruiting for, to make sure it’s taken in a positive light and find out much more about that person than if I’d simply had a ‘no, I’m not interested in this job’ reply… which means the next time I approach that candidate it WILL be about something they’re interested in.

    Whenever I stray from this, put more detail in about the job or the company or over-sell the role, I still get reasonable responses but I end up having far less conversations with candidates because they’re able to say no, based on the details in my message.

    Hope it helps,


    Akascia Executive Search |

  5. Chris: This is great! I love the fact that it does what we want it to do as recruiters, and that is generate curiosity to start a dialog. “No reason to say no.” I think that should be what we are all aiming for when we engage people. Nicely done.

  6. Chris,

    What is the subject line when using that email pitch? Thanks

    I definitely like it and always prefer to send something short and quick to leave a level of curiosity. I go to the point with the confidential resumes on the job boards where I would just send an email with the subject “Are you still on the job market?” and it was a huge success.

  7. I really like Chris’s idea but I’m just not sure it is the best method for Corporate Recruiters like me to utilize.
    When we are busy, we work 100 requisitions at a time and don’t always have the time to manage over 600+ connections.
    Anyone have suggestions for those of us in HR departments that like to utilize LinkedIn as a sourcing tool as well?

  8. Your response rate is pretty good at 35%. Have you measured what the average time to respond is? I know Linkedin doesn’t track this in any of their numbers but RR can be skewed over time by the way Linkedin tracks their numbers. If someone replies back in 6 months it still positively affects your RR score but really how valuable was it that a candidate from 6 months ago took action.

    I hate criticizing anyone’s work in such a public forum so please take the following recommendations with a grain of salt. Understand they come from an intention of trying to help the entire community and to improve all our skills.

    There are a few issues I have with the outline in the original article.

    1. If you are asking for forgiveness then you are coming from a point of weakness. You feel like you need to be forgiven, why? because you are intruding. This might seem like simply being polite but it does little to further the conversation and sets you up for having to make an apology or explain yourself later.

    2. You spend all the time up front making that person feel special and then you confuse him by putting two competing CTA’s in the message. (CTA = Call to Action)
    CTA # 1 Ask for a dialog.
    CTA # 2 Ask for referrals.
    CTA # 2 complete negates CTA #1. You popped the balloon. You made him feel special and then you make him feel like a means to an end by asking for referrals.

    Then your third CTA supports your first CTA. But it’s probably too late at this point to repair the damage. My point is CTA # 2 should wait until you get CTA # 1 and 3 completed. If he replies back with a rejection then you can for referrals.

    Understand these are subtle and completely unconscious or subconscious reactions that some (not all candidates)will have to this.

    Except for the EVP there is nothing in there to differentiate you from every other recruiter out there on Linkedin. And the last time I checked there were thousands of candidates on Linkedin.

    As for a Subject line: We like variations on the following.
    I love your profile!!!
    Awesome profile!!
    You have amazing experience listed in your profile!
    You absolutely need to hear about this career opportunity.

    We’ve tested these things over hundreds of thousands of inmails and emails. On average we get about a 48% response rate on Inmails (over 11,000 sent in April 2013) and our emails get about 68% response rates (over 40,000 sent in April 2013).

    A) They are targeted to the right people.
    B) We have good subject lines that we’ve split tested
    C) We never send a job description. EVER.
    D) We build a relationship with an emphasis on client/company EVP.
    E) We have a single CTA or when we use multiple CTA’s we make sure they support each other.
    F) We include our contact information, including phone and email.

    1. There’s no harm in a little humility…I normally use “From what I can see on your profile you might be interested…” or a version thereof. I’m not apologising, but at the same time not assuming I’ve got it right.

      Agree 100% about the options…referrals is my “if all else fails”.

      I would delete without reading any subject that contained multiple exclamation marks. With just one “!” at the end the first three subjects you listed might work (but still sound a little shallow perhaps?), the fourth one I find arrogant. All of them could be mistaken for spam email headings (“U need this now!!!”).

      I find in general the more time I spend actually reading (not browsing) the profile, the better success I get – as a percentage of course. The consequence is I send less inmails, but then I’m a fisherman, not a trawler.

  9. Jeff,
    Good stuff and great results. When I posted this my primary objective was not to be the expert in the room but to elicit dialog from other experts such as yourself so that ideas on InMail messaging for recruiters could be shared. My results have been pretty good, but like I said, I thought others were probably doing better. Great suggestions for subject lines, by the way.

    Lately, I have used a more direct approach as suggested by Chris and yourself (splitting out the CTAs into separate exchanges) with even better results.

  10. Good info Jeff. I’d also back up about referrals. People are much more likely to give you a referral if they’ve been unable to help you by being interested / right for the job themselves – Reciprocity being one of Cialdini’s principles of persuasion.

  11. David,
    NP thanks for putting it out there. We need more of this kind of open discussion rather than the hype and glitz and horn blowing.
    Keep it up.

    Sorry if my response seemed a bit of a diatribe just wanted to give supporting information so people could benchmark the experiences and quantify results and be informed of what others are doing and at what scale to give it context.

  12. Hello David – I am a financial advisor and am going about getting new clients in a very different way for our industry. I write a blog and try to educate high net worth people with short but interesting topics about investing. The strategy is to provide compelling enough content that people would actually read it and educate, educate, educate to as many qualified people as possible. Then, when their advisor disappoints, dies, etc. they pick up the phone and call me to set an appointment. They actually raise their hand and contact me – and because they have been reading my information for some time, there is already a high level of comfort and trust. I have seen this actually work, but it is not working with as many people raising their hands as quickly as I would like. I believe that it is a numbers game and the more qualified emails that I could obtain and add them to my blog list, the more qualified leads I would get over time.

    I am reaching out to you because I would like to know how to obtain email address through LinkedIn using In-Mail through LinkedIn Sales Navigator, or any other ideas that you may have. Just to let you know – when I have a new blog post (2 – 3 per month) I send an email to my list with a few compelling sentences through Constant Contact. I would appreciate any help that you can provide, even if it is just to someone else that you think may be of help.

    Thank you very much in advance for your help!

  13. Lots of great tips in the article and comments! I appreciate all of them, as I have a huge thorn in my side when it comes to sourcing Big 4 CPA’s in LinkedIn for the Los Angeles market. My response rate is horrendous (2-3%) in comparison to my other candidate pools, which are significantly higher. It seems as though these professionals do not even read their emails.

    I’ve tried various versions of inmails (short vs. long, general vs. specific, direct vs. referral, morning vs. afternoon, etc. etc.) and none have worked. For some reason, I have way more success sourcing Director/VP level of Finance than I do with Senior Accounting/Accounting Supervisor level roles that pay $100K less. Very strange.

    Any help would be great!

    Toyota Financial Services

  14. Any remote (non in-house, non-RPO) recruiting services or ad recruitment agencies out there who offer InMail capabilities? In other words, folks who can accept a job req via email and reach out to qualified candidates on LI via InMail?

  15. Hey Jeff !!We are a software development outsourcing agency focused on building business application.Can you help me in making an effective template?

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