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LinkedIn outreach for beginners

With over 756 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, it should not come as a shock that LinkedIn remains to be a crucial professional resource. The platform gives us the capability to build our professional networks, to recruit and be recruited, and keep up-to-date on business and people, to name a few. And when it comes to exposing your brand or business and generating an increase in sales, LinkedIn becomes an asset, allowing you to sift through potential prospects and connect so that you can build and grow the relationships that matter. And it starts with that initial outreach, so how should you go about it?

Outreach for beginners

4 Basics for LinkedIn outreach

You have a prospect pulled on LinkedIn, and you’re ready to send an invitation out to them. But hold your horses! Let’s review some basics first:

Include a personal note.

You’ve most likely seen it before, and you’re maybe even guilty of sending an invitation with it. That’s right, the overly generic default invitation message. Please don’t do it. Take the time to write a personal note that informs your prospect of who you are and why they should accept your invitation to connect.

Keep it short and sweet.

While it is essential to personalize your message so that your invitation stands out, be sure not to go overboard. Don’t go in-depth and write a novel - a warm and straightforward statement that describes who you are, a commonality between you two, and why you want to connect will be more than plenty.

Keep your profile polished.

If your prospect does not know you, they might be tempted to click on your profile. Be sure to have a polished and up-to-date profile, with an inviting and friendly profile picture, an updated summary, and current and experience listed.

Do your research and let it show.

Research your prospect, identify what drew you to connect. This goes hand-in-hand with writing a personalized message. Maybe your prospect shares a mutual connection with you or is part of the same LinkedIn group...research it and keep it in mind when you write your note!

Tips for improving your cold messages on LinkedIn

You’re with me on opting to omit the default message and want to send a personalized note to your prospect; great! But what would make your cold message stand out?

  • Tip 1: Mention a commonality or something that struck your eye. Do you share a mutual connection? Do you both have the same hometown? Do they have an award or a recognition you admire? Mention it!
  • Tip 2: Be authentic. The default invitation on LinkedIn is dull, sorry to be frank. It comes off robotic and stiff, so why would you? Be your authentic self; throw in a joke if you want. Above all, humans want to connect, so find your authenticity and let it shine.
  • Tip 3: Identity yourself. Why should your prospect connect with you? What makes you interested? Briefly introduce yourself.
  • Tip 4: Focus on connecting only. Your message should not be a sales pitch or a request to meet in person. Your primary focus with your invitation should be to connect so that you can start building a relationship with this prospect.
  • Tip 5: Use a warm and robust close. Be courteous and friendly in your final sentence. And don’t be afraid to end boldly and let them know that you look forward to connecting.

How to find the correct targets for your outreach messages

Okay, you’re confident in your outreach, but who do you reach out to?

  • Who is your target audience? This comes right back to knowing who it is you want to reach out to. What industry do they work in? Do they hold a specific title or live within a particular city? By knowing who you want to target, you can then go deeper into finding those targets on LinkedIn.
  • Perform an advanced search. If you have Sales Navigator, you can conduct an advanced search that lets you hone in on specific criteria so that you can yield potential leads best suited for you. If you don’t have a Sales Navigator subscription (a LinkedIn premium account focused on sales tools), you can still search to help you pull up results that fit your target audience.
  • Become a member of industry-related groups. These might expose you to potential prospects that share a like-minded interest in your industry.

Steer clear of these LinkedIn outreach mistakes

  1. Do not pitch your prospect. Your cold message should be a warm and inviting request to connect. It is the initial attempt to form a relationship and should not include a sales pitch of any sort.
  2. Don’t ask for a meeting or phone call yet. Your main priority with your outreach should be to get a connection. Stay clear of asking for an appointment or call right off the bat, especially if it is a cold message to an individual you have yet to meet.
  3. Sending invitations to connect via ‘People You May Know’ or ‘Who’s Viewed Your Profile.’ While they grant you quick access to the connect button, these sections don’t allow you to personalize your message and instead send your request with the default message. Be sure to always request your prospect from their main page, as this will allow you to personalize your cold message.
  4. Don’t settle for the default message. We touched upon this earlier, but it’s worth emphasizing. People connect with people they feel a connection to. The default generalized message lacks the warmth and authenticity found in a personalized message. Show that you researched your prospect and are intrigued by their accomplishments or your commonalities; find common ground.

Bottom line

Reaching out via LinkedIn is not as daunting of a task as it seems to be. After you find your targeted prospects, your mission becomes to send a message that feels personalized, authentic, warm and steers clear of any attempt to achieve anything more than a simple connection. Personalization and authenticity lie in researching your prospect, finding commonalities and any background that interests you, while also mentioning who you are and why you want to connect. By personalizing your message, keeping it short and sweet, and being an inviting human, you put yourself in the position to receive an extra connection under your belt.