When you want to reach out to 2nd and 3rd degree connections on Linkedin, you have 2 choices:
- Send a connection request (with or without a note)
- Send an Inmail
Each solution as benefits and disadvantages.
In this article we cover everything you need to know about inmail vs connection request. You want to know which solution has the best reply rate?
What is the difference between InMails and Connection Requests?
InMails let you message anyone on Linkedin without sending a connection request first while connection requests need to be accepted before you can send a linkedin message. When someone accept your request, they become 1rst degree connection. With Inmails, you stay out of their network.
1. How do connection requests work?
You can choose to send with or without notes. Whether you send or not, your prospect can see your linkedin profile picture.
Once people are part of your 1st degree connections:
- you can send them direct messages
- they can see your post on their linkedin feed
Inmails do not work like this.
2. How do Inmails work?
Linkedin Inmail is linkedin’s premium messaging service. To send inmail you need to have a premium account (Linkedin Premium, Sales Navigator or Recruiter)
With Inmails, you can directly reach out to any linkedin member without sending a connection request first.
With linkedin inmails, you can add a subject line to your messages.
The Inmail will be received in the main inbox with the mention “Inmail” and the subject line will replace the preview of the message.
Linkedin Connection Requests: Benefits and Disadvantages
With connection requests, linkedin users become part of your network, it looks more natural, but you don’t land directly in your prospect’s inbox and the number you can send is limited.
1. People become part of your network when they accept your request
This is the main benefit of connection request: once they are accepted, people will see your linkedin posts in their feed. Sending connection request grow your network.
If you publish on linkedin to create awareness and generate inbound leads, connection request is the way to go.
When people are part of your 1st degree connections, you can play the long term game.
Recent studies show that it takes an average of 8 touchpoints to close a prospect.
By inviting people to your network, you multiply the opportunity to create touchpoints by being in their feed and send them a message whenever you want.
2. Connection requests look more natural than Inmails
Connections request is the natural way to connect with people on Linkedin.
The way you would connect with a friend or a colleague.
By sending a connection request, you look less salesy than when you send an inmail.
When someone send an Inmail:
- They have something to sell.
- The message is generally terrible
All this people spamming with Inmails are creating a negative anticipation toward Inmail contents.
I personally don’t even read them anymore as 95% are spam.
3. Connection requests don’t land in the main inbox
When you send a connection request, it doesn’t land directly into the inbox. It lands into the connection request tab.
There are 2 disadvantages to this.
First, you are limited to 300 characters in a note.
Second, the preview of your note is limited to a few characters. Most people won’t have the time nor the curiosity to click on “See more” and read your message.
Remember that if you are doing linkedin sales prospecting, you are a complete stranger to them.
That is why I would recommend to not add notes in your connection request.
Here is why.
4. You are limited to 100 connection requests per week
Linkedin recently reduced the number of connection request you can send every week from 700 to 100.
The thing is, there are still some hacks to bypass this weekly limitation with linkedin email invites.
With linkedin inmail invite, you can’t send notes but you can send up to 500-700 connection request per week.
If you are prospecting on a high volume, I would recommend to not send notes so you can enjoy this hack.
If you are ok with sending less than 100 connection request per week, you can still send notes.
Linkedin Inmails: Benefits and Disadvantages
With Linkedin inmails, you land directly in the inbox, but it’s a linkedin premium feature. However, there is a hack to send unlimited free inmails on linkedin.
1. Inmails land directly in the inbox
The main benefits of inmail is to skip the connection request step to land directly in the inbox of your 2nd and 3rd degree connections.
Unlike the connection request, the prospect sees the entire message when the inmail is opened.
You can be pretty sure that your prospect will at least read your message whereas you can’t be sure that people will click on “see more” to read your note.
3. Inmails is a paid premium feature
To send inmails you need to buy inmails credits. For that, you need to have a premium linkedin account:
- Sales Navigator (50 inmails per month)
- Recruiter (150 inmails per month)
- Premium Career (5 inmails per month)
- Premium Business (15 inmails per month)
However, there is a hack to send inmails for free.
3. You can send Inmails for free to Open Profiles
If you are not willing to pay for Inmail, there is a way to send unlimited inmails on linkedin for free.
When you are visiting an Open Profile on Linkedin, you can see a note saying that the Inmail is free.
To detect open profile, you can use the Evaboot Chrome extension, everything is explained in the video above.
4. You can’t send Inmail follow-ups
One really annoying thing about Inmails is that you can’t send linkedin follow-up messages.
You have only one change to get a reply. So you need to work hard on your copywriting because you won’t get a second chance
Linkedin does that to prevent spamming.
That is why you shouldn’t choose between inmails and connection request but use both.
Combine Inmails and Connection Requests to Maximize Reply Rate
Both Inmails and connection requests have limitations and the best answer to them is to use both channels.
1. Use Inmails to follow-up on declined connection requests
Here is the best thing you can to contact a B2B professional on linkedin today:
- Send them a connection request without not
- If the request is accepted, send a linkedin message
- If the request is declined, send an inmail
Here is a visual summarizing the process:
Indeed, Inmail is a scarce resource as don’t want to spend your inmail credits too fast.
That is why it is better to use Inmails as a last resort and send them only to people who declined your connection requests.
2. Send emails instead of Inmails
It is much more efficient to send cold emails than inmails.
Emails are free and you send unlimited follow-ups.
I explained all the process in this video.
Adding inmails to the mix, you can use 3 different outreach channels for your lead generation. So
Here is how to use each of them:
Why in this order? Because you want to use your rarest resources last.
You can send approximately:
- 150 emails per day
- 100 linkedin request per week (without the hack)
- 150 linkedin messages per day
- 50 inmails per month (with a sales navigator account)
So it’s logical to use them in this order:
- Connection requests (and linkedin messages)
The good news is that you can use linkedin automation tools like LaGrowthMachine to automate this workflow.
This tool allows you to visually design multichannel outreach sequences using email and linkedin messages. They don’t have the inmails yet but they will add it soon!
3. Send short and personalized messages to increase response rate
Whatever outreach channel you are using, personalization is the only thing that will dramatically increase your open rates and reply rates.
A recent linkedin study showed that inmails sent individually (personalized inmails) performed 15% better than inmails sent in bulk (using templates).
This same study showed that shorter messages tend to have higher reply rates
So you got it. If you want to increase the reply rate to your inmails, connection requests and inmails: write personalized and short linkedin messages.
You see that there is absolutely no need to oppose inmail message vs connection requests. You need to make these channels work together and even add emails to the mix to maximize the results of your linkedin outreach campaigns.
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