How to Do LinkedIn Outreach to Connect with Leads


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How to Do LinkedIn Outreach to Connect with Leads


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Finding leads as a freelancer can feel challenging. Once you find them, getting their attention can be an added layer of difficulty. If your strategy is off, you’ll either hear crickets or end up connecting with all the wrong people who aren’t interested in your services. So, how can you improve your lead generation strategy? That’s where LinkedIn outreach comes in.

These days, my relationships with my leads almost always start on LinkedIn. My students and I rely heavily on the platform because it works so well. Now, I’m going to tell you how you can use the platform to start conversations with people to who you want to pitch your services.

Let’s go!

LinkedIn Outreach to Connect With Qualified Leads

Here are some tips and tricks you can follow to kick your client acquisition strategy as a freelancer up a notch.

Tip 1: Send a LinkedIn Invite to an Employee Who Works in YOUR Department

This is where it all starts, meaning this step can make or break the success of your LinkedIn outreach.

If you’re a writer and you want to create content for this company’s blog, why would you reach out to a sales rep?

If you’re an email marketer, why send a LinkedIn invitation to the Director of IT?

You need to connect with someone who understands you and the services you’re offering. These people are going to get why they need you and the value that you offer.

So, what you need to be looking at is the titles of the professionals whom you’re sending invites to. Make sure they have a title that indicates they work in the department that you yourself would be working in.

Psst! If you need help sourcing leads on LinkedIn, check out this video on LinkedIn boolean searches. It’ll help.

When you send someone an invitation to connect, be sure you personalize it! Check out the below video for help.

Now, once you’ve connected with the right person and they’ve accepted your invite, you’re ready to reach out to them in a direct message. What do you say? Before we get to that…

Tip 2: Don’t Use LinkedIn Outreach to Pitch Your Services

This is a biggie. I’m serious. Don’t do it.

There is no bigger turnoff than hard selling. Hard selling refers to aggressive, in-your-face attempts to sell a product or service without warming the lead up first. People do not respond well to this. I get these messages daily. Not only do I ignore them, but I actually take it a step further and remove that person as a connection. I’m not sorry!

You need to get to know the lead first.

“But that’s going to take longer,” you’re saying. Yes, it will. But it’s also going to give you better results. That makes it worth the minor additional investment of time, don’t you think? (Yes.)

Now, that you know not to hard sell or cold pitch, what can you say? Keep reading!

Tip 3: Tell Them Who You Are, What You Do, And Why You’re Reaching Out

These are the three details that you want to include in that first LinkedIn message. For now, this is all they need to know. Don’t send them a novel-length message. Don’t include your rates. (Dear Lord, do not talk about your rates.)

Introduce yourself. Tell them what line of work you’re in. And then tell them the reason for your message. If you need help writing your message, check out my blog on LinkedIn message examples and watch the video below.

After that, all you want to do is end with a strong call-to-action (CTA). How do you do that?

Tip 4: Aim to Move the Conversation to Email

LinkedIn outreach has a very specific purpose. The goal of your message is to get the lead’s email address and move the conversation there.

Why? Why insert this extra step as opposed to just keeping the conversation in your LinkedIn messaging? There are a few reasons.

  • The LinkedIn message box is small (literally). It’s not the ideal place to have a lengthy conversation.
  • Email makes it easier for the lead to loop anyone else into the conversation, if needed.
  • You can better track email activity and see when the lead opens your email, using a tool like Streak.
  • If you close the client, email will more than likely be the way you communicate, anyway.

Don’t be afraid to ask for their email in that first message. We’re not here to be penpals. In fact, don’t be surprised if they respond and ask you to contact them by email to discuss things more.

If you get their email, then your LinkedIn outreach has been successful, and the conversation is moving forward. (Side note: If you don’t know what to say in your emails, grab my five proven email templates for landing clients.)

But what if they don’t respond?

Tip 5: Follow Up Every Two Days

I want “She was great at following up” on my headstone when I’m buried. Follow up! This is a crucial part of landing clients, and without it, I wouldn’t have many of the clients I work with today.

People won’t always respond on the first try. Or the second. That’s okay. They get busy. They forget. Your message gets buried. So, give them a gentle nudge.

I tell my students to follow up every two days. One day isn’t enough time. Three is too much time. Two is the sweet spot. I recommend you follow up twice (for a total of three LinkedIn messages). Some people will tell you to keep going. I know professionals who follow up 10 times.

My opinion is this: If they ignore my three attempts at getting a hold of them, then…

  • They’re ignoring me and not interested, so I’m not going to keep messaging them. It won’t work.
  • They’re not on top of their inbox, so I’m not going to keep messaging them. It won’t work.

But here’s the thing: If they haven’t said “no,” then this isn’t over.

Here’s a little ninja trick I want to share that will really come in handy. You can tell if someone sees your LinkedIn message. Their profile picture will be next to the last message you sent. This is what it looks like:

LinkedIn outreach message screenshot

So, I know that the recipient saw my message.

Full disclosure, you can turn this feature off. But a lot of people don’t know that and thus, don’t do it. Here’s why this should matter to you and how it can help shape your LinkedIn strategy.

If you see that someone has read your messages but is ignoring you, then the lead isn’t dead. You should try connecting with another employee at that company.

If the lead has NOT seen your message, then they don’t even know you exist. You can try contacting them through another avenue, or again, contact another employee.

It’s when you get a hard “no” that you should respect them and stop.

LinkedIn Outreach Helps You Land Clients as a Freelancer

In this blog, you learned that:

  • You should send invites to employees who work in the department that you would work in.
  • LinkedIn outreach is not the time or place for cold pitching or hard selling.
  • You should tell the lead who you are, what you do, and why you’re reaching out.
  • The goal of LinkedIn outreach is to move the conversation with your leads to email.
  • You should follow up every two days.

If you follow these steps, then your LinkedIn outreach will be incredibly fruitful and lead to mutually beneficial relationships with your dream clients.

Need some extra guidance? I’m looking for freelancers who are ready to find freedom with their businesses. If your goal is to take control of your time and income as a freelancer, check out my program, Revenue Spark. See you on the inside.