LinkedIn InMail vs Connection Request: Which Gets More Replies?

Updated March 2024

You can only send free messages to people on LinkedIn if you are already connected with them.

If you are not connected with someone, then you only have two official options to contact them:

  • InMail message
  • Connection request

In this article, I’ll explain which gets more replies, and I’ll share a bonus strategy to 5x your response rate:

- What is an InMail message?
- What is a connection request?
- Which gets more replies?
- Bonus strategy: 5x your response rate

What is an InMail message?

InMail messages are direct messages that you can send through LinkedIn to people that you are not connected with.

LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to send messages to people unless you are already connected. However, if you upgrade to a paid plan, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, then you can send InMail messages to people that you aren’t connected with.

screenshot showing LinkedIn Sales Navigator InMail dashboard

There are two issues with InMail messages:

  1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator only gives you 50 InMail messages per month.
  2. Lots of people don’t check their LinkedIn messages, meaning that even if you message them, they are unlikely to respond.

InMail messages are better than nothing, but they are not a perfect solution for outbound sales.

What is a connection request?

On LinkedIn, you can send connection requests to connect with people.

When you send a connection request, you can add a “note”, which is a short message that is sent alongside your connection request. This allows you to provide some context about why you are requesting to connect.

screenshot showing a connection request note in LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals, and like any social networking site, you can send connection requests.

The main advantage of being connected with someone on LinkedIn is that you can send them direct messages for free. Your LinkedIn activity will also appear on their timeline, which allows you to stay on their radar.

Which gets more replies?

This isn’t a fair comparison, since a connection request isn’t a direct message (like InMail).

Although you can add a note to your connection request, it isn’t a message that can be responded to.

Your note can help increase the likelihood of someone accepting your connection request, but they can’t respond directly to it (unless they accept your request and then message you directly after).

Both InMail messages and connection requests are effective ways of starting conversations with prospects.

image showing a man in a suit looking at a connection request on his computer

Bonus strategy: 5x your response rate

I’m going to show you how you can 5x your response rate.

LinkedIn only gives you 50 InMail messages per month, and you can only send about 100 connection requests per week.

If you want to 5x your response rate, then you need to bypass these limitations.

You can use Emailchaser’s LinkedIn Email Finder extension to export your leads from LinkedIn Sales Navigator with their email addresses.

screenshot showing Emailchaser's LinkedIn Email Finder extension

Then, you can email them directly with a specialized cold email software (like Emailchaser).

screenshot showing Emailchaser's dashboard

For example, if I use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find CEOs in the United States in the solar industry, then there might be 2,000 profiles that match this criteria. I can use Emailchaser’s LinkedIn Email Finder extension to export all 2,000 leads with their email addresses and other relevant information as a .csv file.

You may be wondering how this works, since LinkedIn doesn’t give you email addresses.

Our LinkedIn Email Finder uses a proprietary email finding software that takes publicly available information (such as names and websites) and then uses this information to find the verified email address of each lead (even when the email address isn’t publicly available).

This allows you to bypass all of LinkedIn’s limitations, and email people directly.

Emailing leads directly is more effective (compared to InMail messages) since most people don’t check LinkedIn often.

Another strategy that I like to use for important prospects is to send them a personalized cold email, and then immediately send them a LinkedIn connection request with a note saying something like:

“Hi {first_name},

Just letting you know that I sent you an email.

Thanks,
George”

The above strategy increases your response rate significantly.

Frequently asked questions

Can you send both InMail messages and connection requests?

Yes, you can send both InMail messages and connection requests. However, I recommend that you only send InMail messages if you aren’t able to connect first. If you connect first, then you can send a regular message for free.

Which is more effective?

Both InMail messages and connection requests are effective, but they serve different purposes.

Final thoughts

Both InMail messages and connection requests can be useful ways of contacting prospects on LinkedIn.

However, I recommend that you instead email your prospects directly, as this will increase your response rate. You can use Emailchaser’s LinkedIn Email Finder extension to export leads and their emails from LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Then you can send them personalized cold emails with a tool like Emailchaser.

On a related note, I recommend that you check out my article LinkedIn Limits: How Many Connection Requests & Messages?

You may also enjoy my other article How To Reach Out To People On LinkedIn (& What To Say).

picture of George Wauchope

Article by

George Wauchope

Founder of Emailchaser.

I have been working in the sales & marketing industry for nearly a decade.

When I’m not working on my business, I enjoy eating sushi & doing jiu-jitsu.

About the author
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