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There has been a lot of talk about LinkedIn InMails recently. From LinkedIn’s controversial change in InMail policy to the tireless quest to create InMail messaging that will inspire responses, people are referring to this form of communication as a business tool more and more all of the time. And it probably won’t surprise you to know that I have a few crazy ideas on this subject.

Have you received an InMail recently from a recruiter, someone in sales, a power-networker or a LinkedIn Group Administrator and immediately groaned and rolled your eyes?

annoyed person

If so, this blog post is for you.


Reframe your Outlook

Several years ago, I found myself single after a long-term relationship. I had no idea how to meet people. One night, while out with a friend, I was expressing my frustration and confusion on the subject and she promptly suggested online dating. I was initially shocked at the suggestion and quickly shot it down. Then, she said something that was simultaneously so simple and so exciting that I’ve adopted it as a bit of a mantra in life: “I know it seems weird and scary, but just try it. Think of it as an experiment.”

A lot of times, we shy away from things because they’re unfamiliar and, therefore uncomfortable. In a time when information and access to people are so transparent, it is sometimes easier to develop strong boundaries around how to engage and be engaged with. But what if we reframed our outlook on these boundaries?

Let’s continue with the example of online dating. These days, online dating is a widely accepted way to meet a prospective admirer. In fact, according to a March survey by Mic, and using data provided by Google Consumer Surveys, online dating accounts for roughly 9.4% of how people, ages 18-34, have met their current significant other.

mic chart

Six years ago…not so much. And that was the challenge I was faced with at the time. But, whether you met your mate online, at a party, in the grocery store parking lot or in a flash mob, online dating now accounts for nearly 10% of all current relationships. Holy cow!!!


The LinkedIn InMail Challenge

So, what does all of this mean? I’m fairly certain that it means that technology is constantly evolving and shifting; and that we live in a world where technology informs the way we do…well…everything.

And now, as promised, this brings us to my radical ideas on LinkedIn InMails:

  1. You should read your LinkedIn InMails.

Even crazier:

  1. You should reply to your LinkedIn InMails.

Why should you read and reply to your LinkedIn InMails? Because people are using InMails every day for business communication; people just like you, who are thoughtful and conscientious about their professions; people who have an authentic and sincere drive to learn, facilitate and connect.

The time is now. If you’ve read the new InMail policy, you know that InMails are more intentional than they’ve ever been. Professionals are not reaching out unless they have a real reason to; and unless they believe that it’s worth it for the recipient to reply.


 Your Challenge:  Reply to the next five InMails that you receive.

Think of it as an experiment. I guarantee that you will have an interesting conversation or two; maybe even three or four. You might have to invest 60 minutes over the course of several weeks. Can you handle that?

Even if the conversations you have don’t produce a specific result; you networked. You probably learned something new. There are so many ways to make these conversations valuable.


Make LinkedIn InMails Work for You

Set a goal. What do you want to get out of your InMail-response-conversations?

  • A new Connection?
  • Learning about a new industry?
  • Opening the door for a job lead?
  • An opportunity to practice your elevator pitch?

Make this tool work for you.

Reframing your outlook on this important business tool will start conversations and open doors. LinkedIn is changing the way we engage professionally, just like online dating sites are changing how we date. The sooner you adopt InMails as a common means by which to interact with the business community, the sooner you will see results.

Take it from someone who is now happily married to a wonderful person that she met online.

So, get out there and mix things up; read, respond, innovate, engage and connect. Good luck with The LinkedIn InMail Challenge! Please check back in with us and post your results in the Comments.