InMail response rates are up 25%. Exchanges between recruiters and LinkedIn members have increased by 40% over the last 2 years. And now, more than ever, folks are finding new roles through the InMails they receive.

This means that, whether you’re using LinkedIn for networking or for recruitment, thoughtful cold InMails are a must. Just like any form of good communication, they need a strategy.

To learn how to increase open and response rates on LinkedIn, read on for some basic InMail best practices.

Stay away from small talk

Don’t fill the message with frilly small talk—no one’s got time for it. The whole message should only be a few sentences. If someone has to spend more than a few minutes just to get your pitch, it doesn’t look good for ya.
InMail subject lines are just as important as the InMail itself. Make them snappy, memorable, and concise.

Ditch impersonal InMail templates

I know how appealing InMail templates are when the time is of the essence for a recruiter. However, those lame templates actually reduce response rates.
If you send a personalized message in its place, you can increase response rates by 15%. This isn’t to say that you can’t use templates; just jazz them up a bit and tailor them to the candidate.
That brings me to my next point.

Make the message about the candidate—not about you

Speak directly to candidates. Use “you” whenever possible. Replace over-used clichés like, “I have a great sales role that pays XYZ…” with “You have the sales expertise to lead our team.” People are happier when they talk about themselves. Give them the opportunity to do so. Plus, it never hurts to stroke the ego a little bit.
When you tailor cold InMails to specific people, it shows that you a) actually took the time to review their credentials, and b) aren’t a self-serving recruiter cranking out InMails to whoever crosses your path.

Establish common ground

Commonalities jumpstart the relationship-building process. So, if you see that you and a candidate are part of the same group, went to the same school, or have similar past experiences, weave it into your messaging. The more unique, the better.

Talk like a real person

Lots of folks can tell if they’ve received a copy-and-pasted template. And like I said: totally fine if you do as long as you personalize it. When you do, act like yourself.

Write how you talk, ditch jargon, and don’t be formal. Approach the cold InMail like you’re meeting the person outside of a screen. I know, I know: sounds like a scary strategy, but I’m here to tell you that you should be more afraid of the latter.

I mean, think about it: are your friends stale and boring or are they fun and easy to talk with?

Strike a balance between money and growth

A global LinkedIn study of about 14,000 professionals found that 72% of candidates want to hear salary range in the first message. This is likely because 45% of candidates claim that higher compensation is the top reason they switch jobs. Tied for second place are better skills and more growth opportunities.
Interestingly, science disagrees: research shows that income-induced happiness caps out at $75,000/year. So, while income boosts give us a brief high, you’re better off with a quick mention of the salary range, and more emphasis on growth and impact.

Wait to request a referral

It’s a bad move to ask for a referral before you’ve even had the opportunity to speak to the candidate. They won’t feel unique or in-demand when you close the first InMail with a referral request; it just looks like she’s a number in a long faceless list. And frankly, it reinforces the ugly stereotype that recruiters are only out for themselves. I know this isn’t intentional, but it’s important to see things from the others’ point of view.
At any rate, if you don’t receive a response in the first few days, it’s OK to reach out and then ask for a referral—but do it politely.
Send InMails whenever
Despite popular belief, it doesn’t matter when you reach out to prospective candidates. Response rates don’t depend on days or times—it boils down to when people have time. That might be mid-week, or it might be Sunday afternoon.
Happy recruiting, guys and gals! 🎉