Do you send messages on LinkedIn? Your LinkedIn account is connected to an email account, which means that any messages you send or receive on LinkedIn reach an actual email inbox as well.

There are several opportunities to send 1-on-1 messages on LinkedIn. However, unless you are taking the time to personalize your messages, you are missing out on a big opportunity to differentiate yourself and be remembered.

It is true that the frequency of emails in our inboxes from LinkedIn has increased over the past couple of years. Depending on how you have configured your email settings in LinkedIn, you may be receiving frequent messages from LinkedIn GroupsLinkedIn PulseLinkedIn Updates (these are updates about your connections) and LinkedIn Mentions (when members of your network mention you in a status update).

In addition to the above emails you get from LinkedIn, you can also receive 1-to-1 emails that include invitations to connect, messages from your existing connections, and InMails. InMails are messages that come from individuals outside of your network. Typically as a member of LinkedIn you are allotted a certain number of InMail messages each month based on your membership level.

These 1-to-1 messages offer the best opportunity to personalize your communications! In my experience, these types of messages have better open rates than a typical email message outside of LinkedIn.

3 Types of Messages to Personalize on LinkedIn

1. Invitations to Connect

Sending a personalized invitation to connect with someone on LinkedIn is really a no brainer. However, most people don't take the time to do this. It's very simple and doesn't take much time at all to personalize your invitation to connect. Tell someone why you would like to connect and give a relevant reference point as to how you may already be connected. Maybe you have a mutual connection, met previously somewhere, or share a group together. Regardless, make it personal.

Alert: You are unable to personalize your LinkedIn invitation at this time via the mobile app at the present time.

(When you use the mobile app to send invites to connect, just be aware that you can't personalize your invitation. This may be acceptable in some cases, such as letting the person know you will be sending an invite, or if you've just spent time with someone at a conference or meeting.)

If you are attempting to connect with someone you don't know (maybe you share a group, a connection, or you have someone's email address), do your homework on that individual to creatively personalize the invitation.

For example, whenever there is an influencer in my market that I want to connect with, I'll research their work and personal interests first in order to find a common intersection. With the transparency of social media profiles, this is not difficult to do!

Another nice touch is to send a personalized “thank you” once someone has agreed to accept your invitation! Thank them for connecting with you, or even offer to help grow their network through introductions to people you know. Consider creating an email signature in this message that shows where else you can be found across the web.

By sending personalized invitations to connect on LinkedIn, you make a great first impression and become more memorable!

2. Messages to Existing Connections

The messaging feature from LinkedIn allows you to send a single message to up to 50 of your existing connections per day.

This feature offers a great opportunity to connect on a more personal level with your network members. Ask a question or the advice of your connections, invite someone for coffee, or let someone know you are going to be in their city. There are all kinds of ways to go deeper with your existing connections through the messaging feature.

Unfortunately I've also found this feature to be one of the more abused messaging tools on LinkedIn. I've received random blog posts, irrelevant promotional offers, and various unsolicited communications from a number of my own connections.

My recommendation is when you have something to promote to the members of your network such as an event or a new book you've published, be selective. Only send it to the connections you know well and consider offering them a gift or incentive (such as a free copy of your book) in exchange for helping you promote your offer.

Jaime Tardy, author of the book The Eventual Millionaire, recently did this sort of promotion for her new book. First of all, I know Jaime and have met her in person, so I was very receptive to the LinkedIn message. Secondly, she sent me a free copy of her book to review.

Whatever you do, refrain from sending “bulk” messages out to your connections. It may save time, but in the long run it could damage your reputation. Take the time to personalize your messages.

Sending personalized messages to your existing connections will position you as someone who is thoughtful and trustworthy.

3. InMails

LinkedIn InMails give you the ability to send a message to anyone on LinkedIn, whether you are connected to that person or not. InMails have some of the highest open rates of any messages that come from LinkedIn.

To increase the number of InMails that you can send each month, you do have to upgrade to a premium LinkedIn account. However, at the free account level you do get to send a few of these each month.

If your InMail is not responded to, LinkedIn will credit it back to you.

Most of the time, I find that LinkedIn members respond to my InMails unless they just aren't very active on the network.

LinkedIn has also given InMail capabilities to recruiters who have premium accounts, so they have become somewhat less effective and overused. However, I still love InMails. I use them quite a bit. I've landed new connections, speaking opportunities, and even new clients from InMails.

When you send an InMail, you have several choices that can describe what the message is about such as “consulting offer” or “expertise request”. What you select here doesn't matter as much as your subject line.

You need a strong subject line to grab the attention of the InMail recipient.

InMails are great for setting up connection opportunities with people you want to connect with who don't know you.

When you come across someone you would like to connect with but don't have any way to do so given the parameters set by LinkedIn, send an InMail first. Compliment the individual on his or her work, ask a thoughtful question, and most importantly let them know you would like to send an invitation to connect.

With LinkedIn InMails, you also have much more room to work with in terms of the number of characters that can go into the message. This allows you to adequately set the stage and explain your reasoning for reaching out.

Personalized InMails can be a powerful way to start a conversation, create a new connections, and develop a relationship with someone on LinkedIn.

Keep an eye on your “LinkedIn Updates” emails

LinkedIn Updates are emails that come directly from LinkedIn to your email inbox on a daily basis. They also provide a unique opportunity for personalized communications. Make sure to keep an eye on them.

Within these updates, LinkedIn provides you with insightful information about your network. They are also time sensitive!

LinkedIn Updates contain information about your 1st degree network such as birthdays, job changes, and even mentions of your connections who are in the news.

It takes very little time to go through this daily email and send a “happy birthday” or “congratulations” to a member of your network. You should personalize these messages as well. A simple gesture like this can go a long way with a connection toward building a better relationship.

If one of your LinkedIn connections is mentioned in the news, consider sharing the link with your network and @mention the person in your status update!

Not only will he or she receive an email to their inbox that you've mentioned them publicly on LinkedIn, but they will appreciate the acknowledgement and most likely will engage with your update.

Here is an example of how I mentioned one of my connections in my own status update:

How to use LinkedIn mentions

Bonus Tip:  To get more mileage out of your LinkedIn Updates, upload your existing contacts into LinkedIn's contact relationship manager. Once you do this, you will be able to see which of your contacts you are not yet connected with on LinkedIn and send them personalized invitations. From there, you will start to get the data on all of your contacts birthdays, job changes, and mentions in the news!

Your Turn

Are you truly taking the time to personalize your messages on LinkedIn? Do you see the benefit of getting more personalized in your communications with connections?

Share your thoughts with me below in the comments section or on Twitter: