LinkedIn InMail VS Connection Request: What Get More Replies? (2024)

When you want to reach out to 2nd and 3rd degree connections on LinkedIn, you have 2 choices:

  1. Send a connection request (with or without a note)
  2. Send an InMail

Each solution has advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about InMail vs connection requests. Now, you might be wondering which solution has the best reply rate?

Let’s dive into the secrets of LinkedIn InMail.

Keep reading.

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 accepts your request, they become 1st degree connection. With InMail, you stay out of their network.

1. How do connection requests work?

LinkedIn connection requests allow you to invite your 2nd and 3rd degree connections to join your network on LinkedIn, thus becoming your 1st degree connections.

linkedin connection request 1

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:

  1. You can send them direct messages
  2. 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 people on LinkedIn without sending a connection request first.

linkedin inmails

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: Advantages 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 of messages you can send is limited.

1. People become part of your network when they accept your request

This is the main advantage of connection requests: once they are accepted, people will see your LinkedIn posts in their feed. Sending a connection request grows your network.

linkedin connection request benefit


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

Connection request is the natural way to connect with people on LinkedIn. It’s like 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.

connection request looks more natural


When someone send an InMail:

  1. They have something to sell.
  2. The message is generally terrible

All this people spamming with InMails are creating a negative anticipation towards InMail contents.

I personally don’t even read them anymore as 95% of it are spam.

3. Connection requests don’t land in the main inbox

When you send a LinkedIn connection request, it doesn’t land directly into the inbox. It lands into the connection request tab.

linkedin inmail vs messages 1

There are 2 disadvantages to this.

First, you are limited to 300 characters in a note.

connection request notes

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.

connection request notes limitations

Remember that if you are doing LinkedIn sales prospecting, you are a complete stranger to them.

That is why I would recommend not adding notes in your connection request.

Here’s 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 not sending 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: Advantages 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 benefit of InMail is to skip the connection request step to land directly in the inbox of your 2nd and 3rd degree connections.

linkedin inmail vs message 1 1

Unlike the connection request, the prospect sees the entire message when an InMail is opened.

inmail benefits linkedin


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. InMail is a paid premium feature

To send InMails you need to buy InMail 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)

linkedin inmails credits 1

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 an InMail, there’s a way to send unlimited InMails on LinkedIn for free.

Export Sales Navigator leads with Evaboot

For this, you need to identify Open Profiles. These profiles are LinkedIn premium members who accept to be contacted by anyone on LinkedIn:

linkedin open profile

When you are visiting an Open Profile on LinkedIn, you can see a note saying that the InMail is free.

free inmails linkedin


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 InMail is that you can’t send LinkedIn follow-up messages.

linkedin inmail follow up


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’s why you shouldn’t choose between InMail and connection request but use both.

Combine InMail and Connection Requests to Maximize Reply Rate

Both InMail and connection requests have limitations and the best answer to them is to use both channels.

1. Use InMail to follow-up on declined connection requests

Here is the best thing you can to contact a B2B professional on LinkedIn today:

  1. Send them a connection request without note
  2. If the request is accepted, send a LinkedIn message
  3. If the request is declined, send an InMail

Here is a visual summarizing the process:

use inmail and connection request together

Indeed, InMail is a scarce resource, as you don’t want to spend your InMail credits too fast.

That’s why it’s 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 can send them unlimited follow-ups.

It’s actually really easy to get emails from LinkedIn. Especially if you use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find leads.

Export Sales Navigator leads with Evaboot

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:

use email connection request and inmail

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:

  1. Emails
  2. Connection requests (and LinkedIn messages)
  3. InMails

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!

linkedin automation tool


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).

personalize email and linkedin message 1

This same study showed that shorter messages tend to have higher reply rates.

write short emails or linkedin message 1

So you got it. If you want to increase the reply rate to your connection requests and InMails: write personalized and short LinkedIn messages.

Conclusion

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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