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Cold messaging a stranger you want to network with may feel awkward, but many successful people say it can help you get ahead.
Aside from email, job seekers are using LinkedIn’s messaging system InMail to build their community and get them jobs. Making a key connection can pay off: 70% of professionals get hired at a company where they know someone.
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We spoke with Blair Decembrele, in-house career expert at LinkedIn, about what makes for the most effective InMails — which, it’s important to note, are only available to Premium members.
Based on LinkedIn data, Decembrele outlined four strategies for making InMail work for you.
Keep InMail subject lines short
Be direct about what you want in your subject line.
Not everyone will read the entire InMail message, Decembrele said, so aim to grab a potential connection’s attention with a punchy subject line.
Keeping a subject line to three words or less increases your chances of getting a response by 14%, according to LinkedIn data.
“Brevity’s key,” Decembrele said in an email. “And a little intrigue encourages the recipient to open the message to see more.”
As in: “Looking to connect” or “Coffee soon?”
Make a personal connection in your opening
Before you cold message on LinkedIn, make yourself familiar with their profile. Did they go to the same school as you? Did they happen to live in the same state you’re from?
Bring up those similarities when you message a potential connection. Response rates increase by 10% when you personalize your note with common groups and experiences, Decembrele said.
Relatedly, academic research has found that hiring managers tend to hire people who remind them of themselves.
Bring up mutual connections
Along with their professional background, spend some time looking at who the other person is connected to before you write your InMail.
Recruiters who reference a former employer improve their chances of getting a response by 27%, Decembrele said. Plus, LinkedIn found that more than 70% of professionals get hired at a company where they know someone.
If you’re looking to expand your network, bringing up who you both already know can be a good start.
Keep your messages under 100 words
Don’t ramble, Decembrele said.
LinkedIn found messages with 100 words or less increase your chances at getting a response, but those with over 200 words decrease the likelihood.
“That said, be sure to include clear next steps or a call to action, encouraging the recipient to respond,” Decembrele said.