If you’re looking to slide into your leads’ DMs on LinkedIn, then there are a few things you need to know, if you want this to work. In this post, you’ll learn all about cold messaging on LinkedIn, what to say (and what not to say), LinkedIn InMail vs messages, and much more.
Psst! Do you prefer video? I’ve got you covered.
What are the Options When it Comes to Sending LinkedIn Messages?
There are actually two ways you can contact people on LinkedIn, so let’s start here.
First, you have your standard direct message. You can only DM people you’re connected with — these people are called your 1st-degree connections. LinkedIn messages are private, so only you and your recipient can see your conversation.
On the other hand, you have LinkedIn InMail. InMail allows you to message users with who you’re not yet connected. However, this is a paid feature, meaning you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account to access it. Then, LinkedIn will give you “credits” to use for sending InMail. I tried this out via LinkedIn Sales Navigator but ultimately decided not to continue investing in it. LinkedIn outreach works like a charm even with a free account.
You might notice that LinkedIn occasionally gives you free credits to send InMail. If they’re there, use them! But I still recommend that you send that person an invite first. If they end up not responding to your invite, then use that InMail credit on them.
What Should You Say in Your LinkedIn Messages?
Let’s assume that we’re talking about cold outreach on LinkedIn, which means that you’re messaging a stranger.
I want to repeat: You are messaging a stranger!
This is how to create LinkedIn messaging that converts. There are a few general guidelines I strongly recommend you follow and examples of what you can say.
1. Keep it Snappy
Guess what people hate? Long DMs from total strangers.
You, my friend, are a stranger to your cold leads, and you’re reaching out to sell them something. They won’t take kindly to a direct message that’s a giant block of text.
Only say what you absolutely must say. This usually means telling them (1) who you are and (2) why you’re reaching out. I typically say something:
I’m reaching out because my content agency is interested in blogging for [brand name].
I don’t give any additional background information — yet. It’s too soon.
2. Customize Your LinkedIn Messages
I’m going to give you a little tough love here: If you can’t spend two extra seconds to include the recipient’s first name, then you’re too lazy to land clients. Period.
Your leads will know if you copied the same message you sent to a ton of other people. It’s insulting, and they won’t be receptive. Treat them like an individual, because they are, and address them by their name.
Some people take it a step further and include additional personalizations, like:
I really enjoyed your LinkedIn post on [x, y, and z].
Personally, I don’t do this because I haven’t found it necessary, but I know some people who are making it work.
3. Ask for Permission
Let me explain what I mean by this.
I don’t ever say…
Let’s set up a call! When would be a good time for you?
Instead, I’ll say something like…
Is this something you’d be open to discussing more?
I’m asking for my lead’s permission to continue the conversation. This is common courtesy. While I do want to gently nudge the conversation forward, I also don’t want them to feel like I’m pushing them. So, this is my way of saying, “Hey, I’d love to chat. Is this okay with you?”
4. Include Some Sort of CTA
Very often, when you’re asking for permission, it’s going to double as a call-to-action (CTA) — but not always. If the latter is the case, then you want to be sure to include a sentence that encourages the lead to respond and engage back with you. Sometimes, I’ll say something like:
Would it be okay if I emailed you to discuss this more?
In this case, I’m both (1) asking for permission and (2) asking for their email address, which is my CTA.
5. Follow Up Gently but Persistently
This isn’t about breathing down their necks. Nobody likes that. However, your leads are busy and overwhelmed. Their inboxes might be full. So, there’s a chance that they simply miss your message or forget to respond.
So, we’re going to give them a gentle nudge. My students and I follow up every two or three days, twice. This makes for three messages total: the initial cold message and then two follow-up messages.
Full disclosure: I know people who follow up way more than I do. However, in my experience, if they don’t respond after three messages, they’re not going to respond after seven. After that third message, I move on and focus on other leads.
A Word of Caution About Automating Your LinkedIn Messages
With the rise of both laziness and technology, automation is growing in popularity. In other words, instead of logging into your LinkedIn account and manually sending messages, you can pay a software or tool that’ll do it for you.
Sounds amazing, right? Not really.
Here’s the problem with LinkedIn automated messaging. This platform (all of the platforms, really) prioritize genuine, authentic, honest-to-God communication. So, if you’re doing anything to fake that communication, you can get in trouble. In fact, these types of tools often go against the platforms’ terms of service. The result? You could find your account temporarily suspended or even shut down completely. Boo!
While having software magically send loads of LinkedIn messages on your behalf might sound nice, I encourage you to opt for the manual route. This is the safest way to go about this process. Plus, you don’t need to be sending hundreds or thousands of LinkedIn messages to see results, anyway. Yes, if you’re using LinkedIn messages to land clients or sell your services, it is partly a numbers game.
However, nothing ever replaces quality. Ever. Period. End of story.