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LinkedIn, now owned by Microsoft for around two and a half years, has over 500 million users which means it can be a noisy, spammy place. InMail, a LinkedIn premium feature, is a way to get into the inbox of pretty much anyone for around $11 (£8.34) but you also get an amount free every month. Chris Szeto, Senior Director of Product, LinkedIn Messenger & Groups believes InMail is still a great product and he’s right. The ability to get into any inbox for a price is a savvy business move for LinkedIn, but it’s also effective for us mortals too (at least at some things – it’s not great for everything). According to Szeto “reaching out to a hiring manager via InMail is 2.6x more effective than email alone.”
Thanks to people using third-party apps, wrong approaches, poor targeting or just plain laziness, InMail can be a mess. Here’s how to clean it up according to LinkedIn.
Tell LinkedIn specifically what you want to hear about. Szeto recommends picking whether you want everyone to be able to buy into your inbox or just your first connections: “We also give members control over the types of messages they can receive, enabling them to turn off messages from those outside their network.” Head to the top right of the screen and find “Me”, then select “Settings and Privacy”, then click “Communication” on the top right and then choose “Who can send you invitations, click change and now decide what you’d like to do. It’s sadly an all or nothing thing, but it’s something. The LinkedIn terms and conditions fine print does remind you can block people too.
Avoid using third-party spam apps. Szeto: “We also do not allow automation of our member experience, which includes behavior like a firm taking over a member profile to spam. We have automated systems that detect spam, automation, and other types of harmful behavior, and takes action on accounts violating our policies.” So if you’re using weird tools, scripts or add-ons etc. your days are probably numbered. LinkedIn has tools for this, and they like money so they’d rather you use theirs. Plus, if you get caught spamming, you get kicked off, not the tool. Choose your bedfellows wisely.
Target ruthlessly, you’re only damaging your reputation if you don’t. “When sending InMails, we encourage you to choose wisely and do some research to understand who the person is to ensure that they are relevant to the message. Are they a relevant candidate for your company? Are they someone who may be interested in your service?”
Personalize the message. Obvious but Szeto points out that common interests, connections, and work experiences work best here. Craft something ‘real’ and avoid being salesy. Key indicators of salesyness; ‘Select your own time slot’ links, free whitepaper links that require a stack of data, a generic copied and pasted blurb that has spacing issues are among some of the things that can hurt your chances and put people off.
Report bad actors; they’re ruining it for everyone. LinkedIn, just like any other large platform, has to decide what to do when people abuse the system, but without pre-approving content, this is extremely difficult, so the platform relies on users to inform it to take action. Report the bad stuff here.
Tell the person that they have gotten it wrong. Radical candor is a good thing. Be clear, direct, concise and helpful. Just because you don’t need or didn’t see value in what the person was offering it doesn’t mean it won’t change someone else’s life. Ask them not to contact you again.
InMail is unlikely to ever be perfect unless there is a quality control element implemented which would be near impossible to do. A more granular control over who can and what about would be a real step in the right direction but this would dent a pretty big revenue stream for LinkedIn so that’s unlikely to come. Szeto isn’t asleep at the wheel and is working to strengthen InMail however; “We are continuously working on improving InMail to ensure these are well-targeted opportunities that are useful to members’ overall experience. Use InMail to start a conversation – it’s meant to be a dialogue to build a relationship with the person. Ask questions and provide a call to action.” Sage life advice too.
January 31, 2019 at 10:28AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs