Unlock the secrets of LinkedIn InMail with this no-fluff guide. Discover how to craft messages that get read and make connections that count.

Dive in and transform your InMail game today!

Are You Getting Everything You Can Out of LinkedIn?

For some sales teams, the power of the platform lies in two supposedly magical words: LinkedIn InMail.

InMail is often seen as one of the best ways to put LinkedIn to work on sales activities.

You get to reach out to high profile leads directly, often with high open rates and CTR. But InMail isn’t the real power of LinkedIn or Sales Navigator.

In fact, when it comes to prospecting, InMail is incredibly limiting.<>The real power is in the millions of data points for your audience — and the ability to tap that data for better sales outreach activities.

Yes, LinkedIn InMail can be a good tool for sales — but is it the most powerful option for sales outreach? It depends on what you’re looking for.

To help you answer this overarching question for yourself, we dive into your most pressing, specific LinkedIn InMail questions:

  • What is InMail on LinkedIn?
  • How does InMail work?
  • How Much Do InMail Credits Cost?
  • Is InMail Effective?
  • Is InMail Worth It?
  • How Can I Get the Most Out of LinkedIn & InMail?

First Up: How Does LinkedIn InMail Work?

InMail is a great first step when you need more out of LinkedIn for your sales activity.

Many salespeople turn to Sales Navigator or Premium to start expanding their network and for cold outreach. A core feature of these paid accounts is the ability to send InMail to those outside of your direct network.

What Is InMail on LinkedIn?

Let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth: InMail “allows you to directly message another LinkedIn member that you’re not connected to.”

InMail extends your ability to reach people you want to connect with, whether for a sales opportunity, an industry question or influencer outreach.

But is there a LinkedIn InMail character limit? Well, InMail messages are limited to 200 characters in the subject line (that’s plenty, considering Marketo recommends 7-word subject lines).

Messages themselves are limited to 1900 characters (roughly 350 words).

How Many InMail Credits Do I Get?

The number of InMail credits you receive depends on your type of LinkedIn account.

  • A free LinkedIn account doesn’t come with any InMail credits at all.
  • LinkedIn Premium gives you 5 InMails each month.
  • A LinkedIn Sales Navigator Professional account gives you 20 InMails per month (the Team version gives you 30).
Source: LinkedIn

These InMail credits roll over for up to three months. That means you can accrue up to 15 InMail credits for a Premium account and up to 60 InMail credits for a Sales Navigator account.

LinkedIn users also receive an InMail credit for any InMail message that receives a response within three months (or 90 days).

How Much Do InMail Credits Cost?

To get InMail credits you’ll need a LinkedIn Premium account ($29.99/month) or a Sales Navigator account ($79.99/month or $779.88/year). We recommend a Sales Nav account to take advantage of the advanced search functions (and additional InMail credits).

Sales Navigator accounts receive 20 InMail credits. Even if you count half the value of Sales Nav in the advanced search and saved leads, that’s $2 for every initial InMail message.

If you go over these monthly grants, be prepared to pay a premium: to keep the platform clear and response rates high, LinkedIn puts a high price on additional InMail credits.

You can purchase more InMail credits if you hit your monthly limit, but they run $10 each.

Say you want to reach 100 LinkedIn leads. Your best case scenario using InMail is to:

  1. Accrue 60 InMail credits over the course of three months (paying for Sales Nav).
  2. Pay $10 for every additional InMail credit you’ll need.

That’s at least $600 to reach just 100 leads.

Is InMail Effective?

The promise of InMail is that it is more effective than cold emails and cold calls. With a customized message to LinkedIn users with 2nd and 3rd-degree connections, this is almost certainly true.

Depending on the type of InMail and the purpose of the message, open rates and clicks can be high. Some people see an open rate above 85% and a CTR over 5%.

Long story short: yes, it’s effective for what it is. But that’s not the point.

LinkedIn InMail can be incredibly effective for reaching just a handful of high touch leads. But it quickly loses its sheen when you’re trying to maximize your impact by reaching many leads at once.

So is InMail worth it?

It depends entirely on what you’re looking for.

Yes, taking advantage of the InMail credits you receive with a Sales Navigator account is definitely worth it. But if you’re looking to reach dozens, hundreds or thousands of LinkedIn leads, InMail won’t be enough.

Using LinkedIn InMail offers several benefits:

  1. Direct Access to Professionals: It allows you to directly contact professionals and decision-makers who may not be in your immediate network, enabling you to expand your professional relationships beyond your current connections.
  2. High Visibility: InMail messages often have a higher visibility compared to regular emails, as they are less likely to get lost in a crowded inbox.
  3. Targeted Communication: LinkedIn provides a platform for targeted communication, allowing you to reach out to individuals in specific industries, roles, or companies, making your outreach more relevant and effective.
  4. Professional Context: InMail is embedded within a professional networking site, lending a professional context to your messages and ensuring that they are received in a business-oriented mindset.
  5. Credibility: Sending an InMail through LinkedIn can lend credibility to your outreach efforts, as your profile provides immediate context about who you are and your professional background.
  6. Analytics and Feedback: LinkedIn provides analytics on InMail performance, such as read rates, which can help you refine your approach and messaging strategy.
  7. Networking Opportunities: InMail can be a powerful tool for networking, allowing you to establish new connections, seek advice, explore job opportunities, or even pitch products and services in a professional manner.

LinkedIn InMail Examples: How to Write a Good LinkedIn InMail

Writing a good LinkedIn InMail involves a balance of professionalism, personalization, and clarity. Here are key elements to include, along with an example:

Key Elements of a Good LinkedIn InMail

  1. Subject Line: This should be engaging and relevant, giving the recipient a reason to open your message.
  2. Personalized Greeting: Use the recipient’s name to make it personal.
  3. Introduction: Briefly introduce yourself and explain why you are reaching out.
  4. Purpose of Your Message: Clearly state the reason for your InMail. This could be a job inquiry, networking request, business proposition, or asking for advice.
  5. Connection Point: Mention any mutual connections or shared interests to establish common ground.
  6. Call to Action: End with a clear call to action, like requesting a meeting, phone call, or simply a response.
  7. Professional Closing: Thank them for their time and end with a professional sign-off.

Example InMail

Subject: Exploring Collaborative Opportunities in [Industry/Field]


Hi [Recipient’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I’m [Your Name], a [Your Position] at [Your Company]. I came across your profile while researching leaders in the [Industry/Field], and I’m impressed by your work in [Specific Area].

I’m reaching out to discuss [specific topic or opportunity]. I believe there’s potential for collaboration (or mutual benefit) between our organizations, especially in [specific area or project].

Would you be open to a brief call next week to explore this further? I’m flexible with timings and can work around your schedule.

Thank you for considering my request, and I look forward to the possibility of working together.

Best regards, [Your Name]

Linkedin InMail vs. LinkedIn Messages: How Do They Compare?

LinkedIn InMail and LinkedIn messages are two different features on the LinkedIn platform, each serving distinct purposes:

  1. Access to Recipients:
    • LinkedIn InMail: Allows you to send messages to LinkedIn users who are not in your direct network. This feature is particularly useful for reaching out to people you don’t know personally, such as potential employers, industry leaders, or professionals in fields you’re interested in.
    • LinkedIn Messages: Used for communicating with your existing LinkedIn connections. This includes anyone you’ve directly connected with on the platform.
  2. Availability and Limits:
    • LinkedIn InMail: Typically available through a LinkedIn Premium subscription, although some users may receive a limited number of free InMail credits. Each InMail credit allows you to send one InMail message.
    • LinkedIn Messages: Available to all LinkedIn users, regardless of subscription type, and there are no specific limits to the number of messages you can send.
  3. Response Rates and Visibility:
    • LinkedIn InMail: Often has a higher response rate compared to regular email, as recipients know it’s a paid feature and may give more attention to such messages. LinkedIn also often notifies users of InMail messages more prominently.
    • LinkedIn Messages: Tends to be more casual and used for ongoing conversations with connections. The response rate can depend on your relationship with the connection.
  4. Use Cases:
    • LinkedIn InMail: Ideal for reaching out for job opportunities, networking with industry professionals, or for sales and marketing professionals to reach potential clients.
    • LinkedIn Messages: More suited for maintaining and building relationships with existing connections, sharing updates, or informal networking.

Focus on Email, Not InMail

You can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to build promising lists of leads, limiting your use of LinkedIn InMail for more personal messages, high-value prospects, and actual work opportunities.

By using LinkedIn Sales Navigator’s saved leads and advanced search features, you build a strong foundation for a cold email campaign. From there, you can use direct email to reach your prospects by exporting your searches and saved leads.

Nearly five years ago, Future of Work blogger Adrian Tan wrote that InMail is dead. He recommended using email instead. “Let’s be honest here,” he wrote. “What do you check first thing when you wake up every morning?”

Now it’s 2020, and this insight may be more relevant than ever.

InMail isn’t exactly dead, but it can stop your outreach cold in its tracks.

Do you want to blend in with all the other InMail messages, or stand out with a winning cold email that your prospect sees first thing in the morning?

A version of this article originally appeared here.

Read more: LinkedIn InMail Best Practices