Do you want to start cold messaging people on LinkedIn, but you don't know what to say? Maybe you've sent a few messages in the past, but you haven't gotten any replies. If so, this article is for you.
In the past 3 years I've tried dozens of different types of cold outreach messages. I've been ignored a lot and even blocked by a few people.
But thanks to my relentless persistence and willingness to iterate my approach, I can now start conversations to reliably book calls and make sales on LinkedIn, direct from my inbox.
It's been a battle. But that is what makes the knowledge I'm about to share even more valuable. Because it is first-hand. So much of what we read online these days is recycled advice from people who've never done it. Well, I have, and I have the scars to prove it 😅
Let me get right to it by giving you specific examples of what to say in a cold outreach message.
How to do outreach on LinkedIn
- Comment → message
- Poll → message
- Connection → message
- Hand-raiser → message
Each method leads to a message being sent or received. A meaningful conversations is started. But like so many things in life, the hardest part is getting started. So let's break each one down with some examples.
Comment to message
As a business coach to freelancers I was curious to learn more about this person. It turned out they had recently gone freelance but was struggling to position themselves. After a few messages over the course of a couple of days, the client booked a £250 strategy session with me. After this, they went on to book a £3,000 coaching engagement.
So, this stuff works. Be on the look out for:
- People announcing launches - reach out to congratulate, ask questions or feedback, harness their excitement
- People struggling with a particular issue - leave a comment and/or reach out with specific advice
- People asking questions - go the extra mile to answer them either in a comment or DM
- People expressing concerns or worries about their industry/role - respond with your honest opinion and/or questions
Here's another DM example:
If you're struggling to start conversations on LinkedIn, you simply need to get into a curious mindset. Notice how my messages reference a specific post then ask a question. Questions are great conversation starters!
Not everyone will answer. Some might come back with a vague, short sentence. But others will send a lengthy and well thought-out reply. These people are the ones to nurture, because you've clearly asked the right question.
There is trial and error in this, so do not be discouraged if people don't come back to you right away.
Poll to message
Not all messages will lead to immediate results for your business, but if you adopt a helpful mindset and see LinkedIn outbound messaging as a long-term activity, it will eventually pay off.
Connection to message
This is what I did and a day or so later, this message led to another £3,000 coaching engagement.
Hand-raiser to message
In my experience, you need to have a trusting and engaged network of people who know what you're about before these types of posts work. So do make the effort to show up regularly and add value before trying something like this.
But honestly, from these posts I have booked dozens of sales calls and made many thousands of £££ by reaching out when someone shows their hand. It works. See...
How to sell in a LinkedIn DM
Firstly, and I have already alluded to this, you need to be in an overwhelmingly positive and helpful mindset.
When you're thinking about yourself ("how can I close this sale?", "I must book this person onto a call" etc) that energy will sabotage you.
The key to selling on LinkedIn is to make it all about the other person, not yourself. Easily said, right? Let me show you a few examples.
Inviting prospects onto a call shouldn't feel like selling. It should feel like a mutual exploration. With practice you begin to sense the right time to invite to a call. Here's the basic process:
- Find out what your prospect's challenges and goals are
- Ask if a call with you would be valuable
- Invite them using Calendly or some other booking app (alternatively direct them to your lead magnet or scorecard)
That's about all there is to it. But we get too self-conscious and worry about how we might be perceived. Remember: stand in service of your client and the whole dynamic will switch into a trusting and productive one. From here, agreements happen and sales are made.
Developing a LinkedIn outreach practice
Here is what I recommend: spend one hour every morning connecting, commenting and messaging. Commit to hitting specific numbers, if that's the way your mind works. In the early days of my LinkedIn growth I set myself a challenge of connecting with 10 new people every day, commenting on 5 posts and sending 3 cold messages.
This worked wonders for my business because it got me visible to potential clients. It also enabled me to book calls which, sooner or later, turned into sales.
If you truly want to grow on LinkedIn, you must show up as a pro. Do the work every day regardless of how you're feeling about it. When you've practiced this for a few weeks and found your way a little, you can then use LinkedIn automation to grow your network automatically. That was an amazing next step for me, because it enabled me to "teach" what I had learned to a bot who basically does the work for me.
These days, LinkedIn accounts for about 80% of my revenue and most of my clients come from inbound enquiries. But that's only because I've relentlessly stayed the course, built up my reputation and worked hard to serve people in the DMs. Take a similar approach for your business, and you will build yourself a reliable marketing channel.
Frequently asked questions
Does cold outreach work on LinkedIn?
- You consistently create valuable content
- Your contact knows you and is warmed by your content
- You adopt a helpful, curious mindset and let go of trying to sell
- You have patience and persistence
Most of the time cold outreach fails because people take a sporadic and scattergun approach. They're trying to get rather than give. Cold outreach works so well on LinkedIn that you can build an entire business on this platform alone (I have!)
How do you do a cold intro on LinkedIn?
Follow one of the four methods I share in this article to get started.
If you can take the view that you'd like to get to know the person genuinely, it won't seem like some icy pitch. It'll be one businessperson speaking to another from an empowered place.
Cold email vs cold outreach on LinkedIn
Regardless of which approach you take, please keep in mind the general advice I have shared here: do it with heart. Be curious, don't pile on the pressure and don't sound desperate.
What is the best LinkedIn outreach message?
You expected a script? Sorry to disappoint. There is no script for this. There are only principles: be curious, be patient and give a damn. Done over enough time, this approach will serve you very well.