Adam Khan, head of digital and talent at L’Oreal, says the best ways for people to connect with him – ranked from best to worst – are:
- Twitter DM
- Climb through my window
That says a lot about how people view LinkedIn.
In part, LinkedIn’s poor reputation stems from its InMails.
InMails provide recruiters with the ability to mass message candidates. This is how LinkedIn describes the service in its marketing materials:
“Save time by sending customized InMails to all your prospects at once. When a prospect receives your InMail, it will appear personalized with only his or her name in the salutation. Increase your efficiency by writing an InMail once, then saving it as a template to repurpose for future job broadcasts.”
If you could only send 20 InMails a day before, now you can save the template and do 100. Multiply that by the number of recruiters on the platform, and you have literally millions of InMails flying around daily.
While recruiters surely appreciate the convenience, candidates are not very pleased.
That’s because InMails are used to sell something candidates something. Recruiters use them to sell career opportunities, which in turn become recruitment fees and commissions for the recruiters. But in our age of endless disruption and distraction, the last thing candidates want – or need – are more sales pitches interrupting them every few hours.
Hence, many of the candidates I have spoken with say they simply filter out InMails. The subject lines of the messages tell them all they need to know – they don’t even bother opening their InMails. The more savvy LinkedIn users even go so far as to disable the receipt of InMails (yes, it can be done).
All of these facts basically render InMail pretty useless.
A Better Outreach Strategy
Still, LinkedIn has about 414 million members. It would be silly not to fish in this big pond.
But because InMails are no longer effective, we need a better way to do our fishing. Here is my recommendation:
1. Use Email Instead
Let’s be honest here: What do you check first thing when you wake up every morning?
I bet the answer is email. Then maybe Facebook. And you probably keep on checking email regularly throughout the day, until you go to bed.
Now, have you ever seen anyone jump straight to their LinkedIn profile first thing in the morning to clear their InMails? Probably not.
The problem is, how do you uncover the email addresses of your LinkedIn prospects? This information isn’t always publicly available.
2. Use Prophet
I have used numerous email discovery tools, and Prophet is by far the best. It comes as a Chrome plugin. Once installed, you can get your targets’ email addresses and links to their other profiles or websites right from their LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. In my experience, the plugin is about 80 percent accurate – and really easy to use.
3. Scale Your Outreach
One of the key benefits of InMails is the ability to scale your efforts. Instead of sending out one prospecting message at a time, you could send to multiple recipients in one attempt. How do we replicate that convenience with the traditional medium of email?
Simple: Use Reply.
Reply is an email prospecting and sales automation tool. It offers the same convenience of InMail – the ability to send to multiple recipients with mail merge functions – but that’s not all. It also allows you to do something that InMails do not: automate the sequence of the emails you intend to send out.
Many times, candidates won’t reply to you right away. They might be busy, or not at their desks, or traveling, etc. Because of this, they might miss out on the first email and only catch the third one. So it make sense to send them a few messages instead of giving up after the first submission.
Reply gives you the chance to automate this whole process. You structure your email drips beforehand, and your messages are sent out as scheduled. If your candidate replies to you anytime in between messages, the email drip will stop. This allows you to continue the conversation accordingly and makes the whole process look natural.
InMail may be dead, but you can still use LinkedIn to do some powerful sourcing work. All you need are the right tools and methods.