LinkedIn InMail Best Practice: Don’t ask for the meeting

Time to read: 3 minutes. Is your LinkedIn InMail response rate a problem? LinkedIn ‘gurus’ won’t tell you the LinkedIn InMail best practices you’re seeking. Because they don’t use LinkedIn to prospect themselves!

Here is what I’ve learned along side my customers—a way to write effective LinkedIn InMail messages. Surprisingly the key is NOT asking for the appointment. Don’t swing for the wall.

Instead, use the first InMail to earn permission for a discussion.

Then, execute the conversation (via email) in a way that creates an urge in the prospect to ask you for the appointment.

Sound crazy? Sound too difficult? It’s not. I’ll even give you a template.

Bye the way, if you’re a financial advisor check our insights on best LinkedIn messages for financial advisors.

Asking for appointments kills response rates

Any time you begin your sale by trying to get an appointment you are being rejected by 90 – 97% of perfectly good prospects. So says Sharon Drew Morgen, inventor of the Buying Facilitation method. And she’s got 20 years of experience to back-up the statement.

This is because most buyers don’t know precisely what they need when you email them. Or they do have a need but aren’t ready to buy yet. Other buyers have not assembled the decision-making team—yet.

Setting an appointment with a seller will happen—but not with you.

Because you asked for it (too early).

The goal of your InMail message is permission

The goal of your “first touch” InMail message is to earn the right to have a discussion. Nothing else. It’s exactly like an effective cold call.

It’s a LinkedIn InMail best practice that most sales reps don’t know about. It also works with standard email and is surprisingly simple.

Start writing in a way that gets buyers

  1. affirming (“yes, I will be acting on this”) and eventually
  2. inquiring (“can you tell me more about that?”).

The goal of your InMail message is to earn the right to step up to the plate—not swing for the wall.

Want to see an actual InMail being tuned-up… improved to do this? Join me for an InMail writing clinic.

Slow down your “first touch”

Here is an actual InMail I received that is a good example of a failing approach. Let’s diagnose and fix it—using a templated approach you can copy. I have changed the names to protect the innocent.

Dear Jeff,
Hope you’re doing well – love what you guys are doing .

Wanted to see if you’d be interested in hopping on a quick call with me < 5 min to discuss how you’re handling your conversion rates. helps eCommerce companies increase conversion rates by implementing key site redesign techniques. We are a full service digital eCommerce agency specializing in eCommerce Strategy, UX/design, development, extension, ongoing support and Mobile commerce.

We have helped 100+ eCommerce sites like

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!

Steve Smith
CEO and Founder, Smithco Inc.

In the message, Steve is going for the kill. Big mistake.

Mistake 1: Steve sent me an InMail message asking me to believe he knows (and loves) what I’m doing. Of course, that’s not true. Steve needs some kind of point of relevancy to approach me. So rather than do his homework he makes up a vague one.

Steve has no idea what I’m doing. If he did, he’d tell me exactly what he loves about what I’m doing! This would leave no doubt in my mind… this isn’t spam.

His email would be different than 99% of messages I receive every week.

Your prospects aren’t stupid. Don’t treat them like they are.

This, again, is common. I’m not calling you or Steve stupid. I’m simply suggesting you NOT take this approach.

Mistakes 2 & 3: Steve wants me to validate the idea of a discussion about his solution. He wants me to invest time in knowing who he serves, learning about his service and invest time on the phone.

This is a common (yet ineffective) approach to writing LinkedIn InMail messages. It’s not a LinkedIn InMail best practice.

A better approach

The goal of an effective InMail message is NOT to get a meeting or any of the above bullets. Trying to force an appointment will cause you to fail.

This is what kills your LinkedIn InMail response rate.

Instead, use an InMail message to provoke a, “can you tell me more?” from a potential buyer. Use the chance to push on a pain—or surface an unknown fact the prospect needs to know about before they can make an informed decision.

Get on the radar of all decision-makers by asking for permission to facilitate, not discuss need.

The idea is to present information (content) that helps groups of decision-makers set aside differences, identifies common ground and prioritizes next steps (in the decision-making process). This is an under-valued LinkedIn InMail best practice. Want to see an actual InMail being tuned-up… improved to do this? Join me for an InMail writing clinic.

An effective InMail template

Here is an effective InMail template for you to try. Let me know how it works for you?

Hi, Sam.
Are you adding new capability to your ______________ [insert area of business your product addresses] at any time soon or in future? I work with organizations like _______ [prospect’s business] to make sure ________ [goal].

Would you like to quickly explore, via email, if a larger conversation makes sense? Please let me know what you decide, Sam?

Thanks for considering,

Would you like more templates like this? Come and watch more InMails (yours?) being tuned-up … improved to do this? Join me for an InMail writing clinic.

Remember, be creative. You don’t need to stick with this template verbatim. Make the tone sound like you. Adjust it. Get in touch in comments or email me with the results this approach produces for you!

Photo credit: Dan Pearce


cold emailing, InMail, linkedin, prospecting, sales, template, tips

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  • Hi – I’ve signed up for your free InMail clinic, but don’t remember the exact date and your site won’t let me go back to the seminar page. Please give me the date of your next seminar. Also, can you use one of my InMails as an example?

    Thank you!

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    I have been reading reviews about your web sessions. This is the first time for me in this session. Is it interactive? Would I receive any personalized inputs based on my organizational service offerings? I am a sales professional in IT services space focusing on Application Services & Infrastructure Services(Cloud, Infra and Cyber Security)?

    Any relevant inputs would be well appreciated.


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