Today I received a random Connect request from somebody I didn’t know. I’m ok with people I don’t know pinging me. I’m a technical recruiter and resume writer, people are my business.  I ping a lot of people myself.

When Jane sent through her note, it aggravated me and I had to think about why. She was in sales, and just trying to do her job but it was not a great effort. I have made those mistakes too and learned some painful lessons. I thought about all the training LinkedIn offers and wondered if she was aware of it, and if her manager was paying attention and training Jane and her peers at all.

I wish somebody had grabbed me by the collar and said “Hey! You’re not doing this right!” early on. InMail fatigue is prevalent and it’s incredibly noisy in everyone’s inbox.

LinkedIN’s training is very good and there are other sources out there that have great info too. PLEASE, sales managers, help your people get better at this! As less people are willing to answer the phone, the InMail message becomes all important.

Here’s what I learned – hope it’s useful to you.  Jane, I’m not picking on you!

The subject line: in this case, there wasn’t one. Just a connect request.  Ok. I’m curious enough to want to investigate.  The subject line is a whole topic of conversation – but if you can keep it scan-able – two or three words – you’re starting well.

Jane started with “My name is Jane Doe and I’m a (insert your job) from XYZ company.”  Sorry Jane, I already know this as soon as your InMail arrives – I can see it on you profile.  You’ve used up one or two lines of space and 2 seconds of my attention. Worse, my attention is already wandering.

Then you said “I notice we’re connected by Ralph, so I thought I’d introduce myself.”  My first reaction is Ralph who? I know a lot of Ralphs. And then I think, “What do you want?”

And then – “After doing some research online, I was interested in learning more about your company. Do you have 15 minutes for a brief introduction?”  Now I’m getting irritated. If you did research about my company, it’s all there in the website.  Then I think “What do you want to introduce me to?”

My schedule is usually really tight and you haven’t given me a reason to give you 15 min of my time.  Use the rule of WIFFM – What’s In It For Me? – in your message. Tell me why should I agree to talk to you.

On a weekly basis, my potential candidates get 8-10 requests for a conversation about a “new and exciting” or “Perfect!” job.   So, how do I compete? Research! What is it about their background that makes them a potential candidate for my client. Why have I reached out to them in particular? What’s in it for them? And can I get that across in 50 words or less?

I wish I could give a dozen 20-minute sales trainings (my personal max attention span in training) and give the junior to mid-level sales people the leg up I had to learn the hard way.

Sales Managers, the art and science of InMails and email is critical to the success of your sales people! Don’t let them flounder. Don’t let them look like rookies.