One personal connection can be incredibly impactful to your professional career.
Your next big business move, once-in-a-lifetime sales deal, dream UX designer, or business partner is theoretically a message away. All it takes is one meeting, one interaction, or one message where you open yourself up to the possibilities of networking.
LinkedIn can be a great way to reach out to potential connections. With over 690 million users, there’s a decent chance the person you’re looking to get in touch with is on the platform. Here are the best practices to follow when reaching out to someone on LinkedIn.
Start With Research
Jumping straight to the conversation may work in some instances, but having a little background or finding common ground can make personalizing your message or making a connection much easier. Reference something from their LinkedIn account and job description in your message. Paul Mannion, BDR at Looker, recommends pitching your solution around a possible pain point they may be experiencing.
You can use a tool like VoilaNorbert to find their email address and enrich the data you do have by finding other profiles like Twitter, where you can learn more about their conversation style, interests, and general views. Google News is a great tool to find recent articles or press releases about the company they work for that you can reference in your initial outreach.
For a better look at what’s going on inside the company, head on over to Glassdoor, where you’ll get the scoop directly from the employees themselves. Finally, take a look at what customers are saying on business review sites. G2, for example, is a go-to source for software reviews.
Give the Message Context
Treat the interaction as if you were in person. Don’t jump straight to your question or request. Instead, start by introducing yourself and perhaps tell them why you chose to reach out to them. Let’s face it: if they decided to read the message, that’s what they really care about anyway.
To give yourself a leg up, use your research to personalize the message. Give them a compliment. Or find a shared interest or commonality you can begin the conversation with. If you find on Google News they just won a significant award, you can start off by congratulating them.
Get to the Point
The first message is the most important one. Your contact is going to quickly decide whether your message is worth reading, let alone responding to. Get to the point, and don’t drag out the pleasantries or introduction.
While you’re at it, keep the message short so it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming endeavor to read. Break it up with white space to make it easy to skim. Finish up by getting straight to your initial request, but be sure to make it something simple, like a question, and easy to respond to.
You’re speaking with a stranger who owes you nothing. Act accordingly. You can end on your question or call-to-action, or you can throw in a closing line showing appreciation for their time, which can go a long way.
Also, always take the time to proofread your message. If your initial message is full of spelling or grammar mistakes, it won’t make a good first impression.
Show Your Personality
People always want more context. If you message them on LinkedIn, there’s no way they’ll respond before looking at your profile. Make it count!
They’re more likely to respond if your profile is filled out. Start with the basics like ensuring you have a good photo – preferably something close-up, professional-looking, and ideally with a friendly smile.
Then clean up your headline – the default job title won’t cut it. Make it something more interesting, compelling, and memorable. Perhaps a combination of what you do and the results or value you bring people.
Don’t Fear the Follow-up
If you don’t hear back after your initial message, show a little persistence by reaching out again. When you do reach out, don’t do so by simply “following-up” on your previous message to make sure they got it.
Switch things up and ask a different question. Share another personal anecdote, or better yet, find a way to add value to them by sharing some industry insights, a great article you found, or an idea you have.
In the follow-up email, make sure you don’t come off apologetic either. There’s no need to say, “I know you’re busy” or “I’m sorry to bother you.” Go in with confidence that they need what you’re selling or would benefit from your interaction.
Manage Your Expectations
It’s very likely that some (or most) of your messages will go unanswered. Don’t take it personally. People are busy, and responding to strangers probably isn’t high on their priority list
If your ultimate goal is a large request, then it may take time to build rapport and earn a phone call or face-to-face meeting worthy of making such a request. Some things require a long-game approach, so you need to manage your expectations accordingly and be patient. Don’t expect a positive response – or any response at all – to an unrealistic request or an insensitive approach.
LinkedIn can be a powerful networking resource and a great way to connect with professionals in your industry, potential sales prospects, or job candidates. Try to spend less time strategizing about whether people have the clout, buying power, credentials, or following you’re seeking and more time acting like a human being, and you’ll win the long game.
What’s your go-to strategy for getting people to respond on LinkedIn? Share with everyone in the comments below: