The right way to link in: Seven practical steps for writing a great LinkedIn InMail

The right way to link in: Seven practical steps for writing a great LinkedIn InMail

In the past few weeks I’ve outlined the right way to go about using LinkedIn as a professional tool to enhance your career or business prospects.

The right way to link in: Four actions to improve your LinkedIn rep

The right way to link in: Polishing your LinkedIn etiquette

This week, I’ll take you through the seven steps to writing an InMail message on LinkedIn.

1. Be personal

This may seem so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said, but we’ve all seen those emails that begin ‘Hi All’ or ‘Everyone’. No matter how zippy you try to make them, they are impersonal. Want someone’s attention? Talk to them directly. Address the person you want to by name. Nothing smacks of spam like generic openers and it gives the impression that you don’t have the time or interest to bother with being personal.

Dear Jane,

2. Make it about them

If you’ve got this far then you need to talk immediately to the other person’s interests. I am not talking about flattery or false interest, but their genuine interests which (given you’re reaching out) should have something in common with yours. That will pique their curiosity and give you a little more of their attention.

Dear Jane,

I know that you’re a great supporter of women in leadership.

Think about how you react when someone tells you something about yourself that is true. You nod unconsciously. You open up to receiving the information. You’re willing to listen because what has been shared is true.

3. Be clear about the connection

There’s a fine line between being attentive and stalky. You want someone to know that you’ve made the effort to learn about them or their business but that you’re not a stalker (I use that word lightly). Being clear about how you’re connected will help.

I know that you’re a great supporter of women in leadership because we’re in the same Women on Boards group.

OR 

I see from your profile that you support women in leadership and are connected with my colleague/friend So Andso who shares the same interest.

You’ve got to strike the right balance between showing that you care enough to take the time to do your research, without feeling like you’ve overstepped those invisible but important boundaries people have.

Personal space matters as much in virtual as real life.

4. Be clear about your intention and the sweet spot

What you want from people will vary greatly.

Clearly it’s easier to ask someone to be interviewed on your podcast than it is for a donation. The important thing is to make a connection between your genuine mutual interests and your request. Feel free to ask questions and seek more information.

I am not sure about you but I believe the first step on this journey is educating girls? That’s why I am reaching out to you.

It’s about finding that sweet spot between what they are authentically interested in and what you genuinely have to offer.

It doesn’t matter then what the service is.

If, for example, you were a business coach looking for new clients and you had a particular coaching model you used, you’d go to great lengths to find those kind of clients who were responsive to it.

It could be that you are into heart-led leadership, or empathy-based coaching or your point of difference was that your work was grounded in neuroscience. Either way, it’s still about the match.

I know you’re interested in cutting-edge leadership development and I’ve developed a coaching model based on neuroscience that pushes the boundaries of how we learn.

5. Tell them about yourself what you want

Be clear about why you are reaching out to them and give them enough information about yourself so they see the relevance.

I am the development manager at This Organization. We are building a network of 1000 passionate women with a strong sense of purpose and who want to give something back to the world.

This is not the space to go into great detail about your fabulousness and let’s face it, you’re contacting them from LinkedIn so if they want to find out more about you, they can do that themselves. However, they do need to be able to make the link between your role and your request.

6. Ask for what you want

Ask specifically for what you want. Again, this will vary enormously depending on the request. If you’re really testing the water then asking for just a bit more of their time and attention might be the way to go.

I’d love five minutes of your time to talk about how you could be involved.

Tailor your approach depending on why you want the contact and where you are in the contact cycle.

If you’ve made several connections you may have permission to ask for a bit more.

Don’t just leap in with your full offer, people are overwhelmed enough as it is. Not only are you likely to put them off but you are likely to put them off with respect to future approaches as well.

If you want to send someone more information, ask.

You can suggest that you meet when the time is right too. As always, use good judgement.

7. Close off and remember your manners

You wouldn’t turn around after a great conversation with someone at a networking event and just walk out. It’s the same thing. Close off, make it personal ask them how to continue the conversation.

Remember to be grateful for their time and attention.

Please let me know if you’re happy for me to talk to you further and if so, how best to reach you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this Jane, I appreciate it. 

Pulled together it looks like this.

Dear Jane,

I know that you’re a great supporter of women in leadership that’s because we’re in the same Women on Boards group.

I am not sure about you but I believe the first step on this journey is educating girls, which is why I am reaching out to you.

I am the development manager at This Organization. We are building a network of 1000 passionate women with a strong sense of purpose and who want to give something back to the world.\

I’d love five minutes of your time to talk about how you could be involved.

Please let me know if you’re happy for me to talk to you further and if so, how best to reach you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this Jane, I appreciate it.

An approach, not a template

You can use this structured approach for creating a LinkedIn email, ordinary email or any form of communication. It’s not about cut and paste but rather structuring your business approach to be people-centric and purposeful.

These are the core principles of reaching out the right way:

  1. Be personal – social is about about human to human connection
  2. Be of service – think about their needs first
  3. Right connection – make connections that count
  4. Right intention – find the sweet spot, mutuality matters
  5. Tell – be clear about what you want (no hidden agendas)
  6. Ask – ask for it (don’t waste their time guessing)
  7. Gratitude – say thank you

You already know how to do this

Remember that you’ve been doing this all your professional life. It’s a matter of bringing the skills you’ve already honed online.

Dionne Kasian-Lew is the CEO of the Social Executive®, an advisor to boards and senior executives on digital and social media rated in the top 1% for global community influence by Kred. Her latest book The Social Executive – Why Leaders Need Social Media and How It’s Good For Business (Wiley) is now available.

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