Getting Better Outreach Response on LinkedIn: Dial Back The Call To Action

I have sent thousands of InMails and outreach messages of all kinds on LinkedIn. I have advised any number of LinkedIn users on their outreach program and specific messages they use.

And today I am here to tell you that one of the biggest factors for lousy response rates is asking for too much in your call to action.

Note I didn’t say what you are asking for but how much. As in how much of a commitment are you asking the other person to make?

In general, the more you ask for, the harder it is going to be to get a positive  response.

If you are asking for a sales call, you are asking for a lot in that outreach message. You typically need to establish your credibility or to establish that you have such a powerful offer that a sales call is a logical next step. It can be done, but you are asking for an awful lot in the outreach message.

On the other hand, if you ask for too little, like an opinion, the other person may not think it is worthwhile responding at all.

I have an approach that works reliably for me. Just start a conversation. My call to action is a question that isn’t easily responded to with a closed answer. I am looking for a response that I can respond right back to. And there is more information on most people’s profiles to work with between their summary, current job, work history and their activity on LinkedIn than you would think. Conversations can build credibility and lead to connecting.

The less risk there is in your CTA versus the possible reward in your CTA – as perceived by the other person – the more successful you will be.

Capitalizing On LinkedIn Publishing

Last week I talked about my LinkedIn publishing. This week: what I do once I have published.

Okay, so I have written an article or post, published it on LinkedIn, and received some views and engagement. So what do I do now? Four things…

  • I ignore the views. They are nice, good for the ego (or bruising for the ego), but as I cannot identify the individual viewers, I can’t do anything with my views.
  • I review everyone who engages with me and my content.
  • I reach out to anyone who looks interesting
  • And I do it right away

Let’s look at the latter three a little further.

I review everyone who engages with me and my content

When I login to LinkedIn, I check my notifications. This will tell me if I have new likes, comments, and followers. I check my most recent article and post statistics for people who shared, and check for new people who have viewed my profile.

I try and respond, acknowledge or thank people who have commented or shared my content, in particular my connections. I usually can’t get to everyone, but I want these people to know I appreciate them.

I reach out to anyone who looks interesting

There are lots of interesting people on LinkedIn. Here are a the two types I look for.
Someone who is a long term prospect. Because there are no short term prospects. While they may fit my target demographic, I don’t really know anything about them, their situation, their problems, or their needs. I may have some credibility with them from my writing, but no personal relationship, and they probably don’t have spare budget lying around.
Someone who is not a prospect but is active on LinkedIn with a half decent network. This is a person who can introduce me to someone in their network.
I play a long game. It makes me look good compared to all the yahoos who go out and pitch people they have just met. Don’t get me wrong, I do get people who find me and want to retain me right away, but they had already made up their minds, and I didn’t need to sell them on the idea.

And I do it right away

I follow up and reach out to these interesting people right away, because if I don’t, people will forget the context of my article or post. I want to reach out when their engagement with me or my content is still fresh in their mind, and they can still remember why they did so. Reaching out to someone who followed you or commented on your post last week doesn’t work very well.

But this is all the necessary boring process stuff. You have heard enough about the labor pains, you just want to see the baby. Here you go.

The results

For those who didn’t read last week’s article (and shame on you) I talked about my publishing the week of April 23 and April 30. Over that two week period I:

  • Published 2 articles
  • Posted 4 updates (which most of us still call posts)
  • Which got 45,000 views
  • And over that two week period just over 1,000 people liked, commented, and shared my content, or followed me, or viewed my profile

Here’s the good stuff: out of those 1,000 people,

  • I found 56 that looked interesting. I reached out to them and
  • 44 of them replied and
  • 9 of them wound up scheduling phone or Zoom calls with me

I like an outreach method that gets a 78.5% response rate (to be fair and in full disclosure, I usually get a response rate between 70 and 75%, so this two week sample was a bit better than usual).

I am pretty good with InMail and can get a response rate in the low twenties reaching out to cold prospects, but why would I waste InMail like that when I can send InMail that gets a response rate more than three times as high? Why wouldn’t I send outreach messages to people who are predisposed to reply?

So in my case, publishing works, but only if I have content people find valuable, I follow up and engage with those who engage with me, and I do so quickly.

That leaves just one last piece of the puzzle: what’s in those messages I sent that prompted so many of them to respond? That’s next week.

The Case For Publishing Content On LinkedIn

It works. That’s it, that’s the case. Between this article and the two that will follow over the next two weeks, I will outline how I use published content on LinkedIn and just how successful it can be. I hope that these articles will contribute some ideas that will help you with your own content publishing on LinkedIn.

I had a look at my last two weeks on LinkedIn, (I wrote these three articles over the weekend of May 5 & 6) and here are some numbers for you.

April 24 article 640 views, 154 engagements

April 25 post 8,800 views, 73 engagements

April 26 post 11,700 views, 88 engagements

May 1 article 540 views, 80 engagements

May 2 post 5,600 views, 76 engagements

May 3 post 18,400 views, 153 engagements

These are only the articles and posts I wrote myself, this does not include any sharing or commenting on other people’s posts.

I define a post or article’s engagement number  as likes + shares + comments.

Aside from that direct engagement, over the two week period I gained around 70 new followers (I have just under 2,000 followers now) and 300 people viewed my profile. Most of the followers likely came from seeing my writing, though a lot of the profile views could have come from people seeing me sharing or commenting on other people’s articles.

And a short sidebar on profile viewers: 75% of my profile views come from people seeing me being active on LinkedIn, either through my own writing or commenting on someone else’s. In the case of this two week period, that’s 225 people. Meanwhile, over the same two week period, 9 people found me via search on LinkedIn. Being active – publishing, posting, and commenting – is the best SEO there is on LinkedIn.

So in total, over the two weeks I received something on the order of 45,000 views and just over 1,000 people engaged with me and my content.

Now a lot of you may be going, “I publish and get six Likes, how does he get those numbers?”. Well, I can list a lot of the contributing factors that help:

  • I have been doing this for a long time. I have published an article on LinkedIn pretty well every week since I was given publishing rights by LinkedIn several years ago. I try and publish a post every Thursday and sometimes I will also publish a post on Wednesday. When I started, the engagement I received sucked. But I kept at it, and gradually “found” my audience and figured out what they needed help with and wanted to read.
  • I publish my articles on the same day at the same time every week. I publish an article almost every Tuesday around 8am eastern time. LinkedIn won’t notify all my connections and followers when I publish, so I make it easy for them by publishing on the same day and time every week. I have discovered about the only way to beat the LinkedIn algo’s is to work around them.
  • I have a big network, almost 5,000 connections and 2,000 more followers. This is a virtuous cycle – I publish and people find and want to connect with me. This leads to wider distribution of my publishing which leads to more people finding me and so on.
  • I have my own niche –  I don’t talk about how to use specific features of Linkedin as much as I try to get people to think about how they use LinkedIn. When I finish an article, what I hope my readers are going to think is, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
  • I don’t get hung up on the length of my articles and posts. I write for however long – or short – it takes me to express the idea I want to get across. That could by 1200 words or it could be 200.
  • When people comment or share my content I try and thank as many of them as I can. If people are going to take five minutes to read and comment on something I have written, which is also going to help further the distribution of that content, the least I can do is say thanks.

Note that all of these things aren’t specific to me, that is, anyone can do them. There is no secret sauce, these are just kind of my own best practices, what I have developed over time.

What I have described here is time consuming. An article will typically take me two hours to write. Posts are easy – ten or fifteen minutes each. Interacting with people that interact with my content can take a couple of hours spread over Tuesday to Friday every week. That’s maybe five hours a week. Big commitment. Why could be worth that amount of time?

Easy: those 1,000 people that engaged. Buried in there are future connections, future customers, and people that can introduce me to future customers. My articles next week and the week after that (Tuesdays around 8am, remember?) will be about how I parse those thousand people, how I reach out to them and the results I get.

Publishing articles and posts on LinkedIn increases my reach, helps establish my credibility as an expert on my subject matter, and brings me sales leads. That makes it about the best possible investment of my time on LinkedIn.

How To Detect If Someone Is Home On LinkedIn

If you are going to use LinkedIn for outreach, it is probably a good idea to know if the person you are reaching out to will be there to answer.

I have talked umpteen times about how something like 75% of LinkedIn users check in less than once a month. If you are expecting a quick response to an outreach message from these people, don’t get your hopes up.   

But if that is the case, how do you figure out who is likely to be in the magic 25% that does use LinkedIn once a month or more? I have found that a reliable indicator is their LinkedIn activity.

I used to go by number of connections, the idea being that the more connections someone has, the more time they have invested in LinkedIn and the more likely it is that they use LinkedIn often. But after some experimentation, I have decided that activity is a better indicator.  

What do I mean by activity? When someone has been active publishing, posting, sharing, commenting or liking on LinkedIn, it shows on their profile, and prominently too, above their experience sections. You can learn a lot from looking at this activity – in particular, in their activity feed, look for the little date stamps right under their name and headline. Reviewing the date stamps will give you an idea of how often someone is using LinkedIn and what they are doing when they do use LinkedIn. I look for the type of activity too – publishing and posting tends to be best, followed by commenting.  

In my experience, the more active someone is on LinkedIn, the more likely they will be to respond to a message from a stranger. However, that doesn’t let you off the hook for the quality of your outreach message. It has to have the usual best practice ingredients – it needs to be personalized so it is obvious it is not a templated message, it has to address something of concern to the other person, it has to establish your credibility, and needs a call to  action.

So go back and have a look at those outreach messages that got no response. Were those people active on LinkedIn, or not home?  

Outperform Your Peers with the 5:1 Ratio For Promotion On LinkedIn

Pretty simple analogy here that is quite instructive.

Let’s say that a network television channel puts a program on for an hour. Of that hour, they give us fifty or so minutes of interesting content that we want to watch. In return they “earn” the right to show us ten minutes of commercials. That is the deal that network television makes with us viewers: “If we give you fifty minutes of content, will you trade that for allowing us to show ten minutes of commercials?”  

If it was the other way round, and we had to watch fifty minutes of commercials an hour to see ten minutes of content, how many people would watch? Not many. Okay, none. Because that would be an awful trade off. Actually, even the fifty minutes content / ten minutes commercials model is under assault by companies like NetFlix, Amazon and Hulu.

So why do people seem to think that LinkedIn users would be happy to see non-stop commercials? Some people and companies publish the equivalent of sixty minutes of commercials an hour, a steady stream of promotional stuff that is all about them and not about their potential reader / follower and what they want to see.

And then they wonder why they don’t get any traction on LinkedIn.

Here’s an easy idea to help you be successful publishing and sharing on LinkedIn: figure out what your ideal prospects want and give them some of it. Take your cue from the television show / commercial mix and add some something promotional every sixth post – or even less often than that if you can manage it.

Having something promotional that gets sent out every once in a while and gets seen by some readers is better than sending out a lot of promotional material that gets seen by no one.  

Earn your shots and outperform your peers.

What Can You Do About LinkedIn Connections That Don’t Respond?

You know the drill: you connect with someone on LinkedIn, someone you really  feel you are in a position to help professionally and that can help you. You send them a welcome message and…silence. Sometimes they even asked you to connect and sent you a personalized note, you accepted, sent them a message and…silence.

What, if anything can you do about it? Here are five options at your disposal.

One strategy is to just let them be, and see if, over time, they come out of their cone of silence. But let’s be honest, while patience is a virtue, you are not feeling really patient.

Another approach would be to just keep sending them messages. But if someone didn’t respond to your initial post-connection outreach, what makes you think that will change if you keep trying? There’s a fine line between appearing persistent and appearing pathetic.

But if repeated messaging is a low probability strategy what can you do to get their attention?

A third possibility is to post content on LinkedIn, either updates, articles or both. You may get their attention from them seeing your content in their homepage feed. That is one of the privileges of being connected. Your content goes into their feed. They may of may not see it, but that’s a lot better than almost zero percent chance a non-connection has.

Seeing your content can build your credibility with them, which is what you need. Their unresponsiveness so far is a clue you don’t have much credibility right now.

Another method I use is to share content specifically with one person. If you click “share” on a piece of content, one of the options is “send as message” to one or more of your connections. Sharing a piece of content tailored to their work with  (what I hope is) an insightful comment is a way I have found that will get a response and lead to conversations.

Lastly, you can always get a second opinion. The odds are reasonable that you share this new inscrutable connection with one or more of your existing connections. Contact those connections and ask for guidance or their opinions as to what would appeal to this person.

This may seem like a lot of work to go to to just try and open up a conversation with a new connection, but these days many people connect easily but don’t develop relationships as easily. It is your job to establish your credibility and make this person see that you are someone they want to talk to.

You may think that connecting with someone opens the door, but it is best to be prepared for opening the door and finding…another door.

Connecting on LinkedIn Is Easy: The Real Work Comes After Connecting

This past couple of weeks I have had conversations with three connections of mine bemoaning the fact that their connections are unresponsive. They send messages and get no replies. What gives? What are they doing wrong?

Usually, it’s nothing. These folks are smart enough to know not to be spamming their connections with sales pitches and they are not be wasting their time sending messages to people who rarely use LinkedIn.  

What they are doing isn’t really wrong, it’s just ineffective by itself. What they are suffering from is a mismatch between what their idea of a “connection  relationship” is, and their connection’s idea of the same.

Over the past twelve to eighteen months a lot of LinkedIn users have gone from what I think of as “tight” LinkedIn networks – connections that they really do know well, or at least are in their industry – to connecting more freely and widely. I am not sure why this is, but the results are LinkedIn connections who have gone from active relationships to “maybe we will need each other’s help at some point.”

The result? You may be connected to some really good people, but you don’t have a relationship with them. And you shouldn’t assume that they think because you are now connected that you do, right now, have a relationship.  

So where does that leave you? Well it leaves you doing all the work you used to do in order to get someone to connect with you, except you are now doing this work after you are connected. You have to get on their radar and establish your credibility. Here are four ways you can do so.

Be visible, be active. Show them your value by publishing and commenting on LinkedIn. One of the advantages of being connected is that your activity has a greater chance of being seen by a connection than a non-connection.  

Be there when they are visible or active. If they comment, share or publish content on LinkedIn, comment on it, like it or reshare it. This increases your visibility, and they should appreciate your engagement.

Share content specifically with them. Show that you are thinking of what their problems are and that you are a possible resource.

And keep sending them the odd message, with an emphasis on what you have to offer.

Finally, recognize that not everybody you connect with shares your idea of what a connected relationship should be. There are people who don’t see or use LinkedIn the same way you do. Let them go and move on to the people that are on the same LinkedIn wavelength that you are.  

 

Calculating Whether LinkedIn Articles Or LinkedIn Posts Work Better For You

As most people who write and publish on LinkedIn know by now, views are counted differently for LinkedIn articles and updates. Many people get hung up trying to figure out how many update views equal an article view in order to decide which is a better use of their writing time.

I have tried this myself and it is awkward and unwieldy at best. May I suggest that you forget the number of views and instead you just look at the relative number of engagements you get from something you have published. Find an article and an update on similar topics. Then ask yourself:

Which brought more engagement?

Which had better quality engagement?

I did this a few weeks ago for an article I published on Tuesday March 27th (What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Article Or Post On LinkedIn?) and a post I published the next day (The major difference between LinkedIn Articles and Posts: how views are counted) on the same topic.

The article received 1250 views with 26 comments, 74 likes and 12 reshares.

Meanwhile, the post the next day received 6,700 views but only 16 comments, 34 likes and 5 reshares

So the post got almost seven times as many views as the article, but only half the engagement. The quality of engagement was high in both post and article. So in this example, the article would seem to be a better vehicle at generating engagement for me than the post.

But of course, there’s more to it than that.

Articles take me a while to write, posts are quick, like one quarter the time an article takes. Advantage: posts.   

Articles have a long tail that I have not seen from posts. I receive notifications about comments, likes and shares on articles that are two years old. I get notifications about comments on months old posts every day. People are still clicking on the article above (55 times in the last couple of days) while the post seems to have faded away.  Advantage: articles

My original question asked how you could calculate which was better. The answer, as with many facets of LinkedIn is: It’s complicated. I suggest experimenting with both articles and posts to see which work better for you. You may find that it is not a case of an article being better than a post or the other way round, but how one can complement the other, resulting in more quality engagement on LinkedIn.

Does Your LinkedIn Activity Generate Engagement?

I define engagement as people reacting to your activity on LinkedIn. They respond with in one or more of what I call the “big five” ways – likes, comments, shares, followers and people who view your profile.

When people engage with you in one these five ways it is possible for you to identify them – which you can’t do with people who view your content. And if you can identify them, you can reach out to them.

And if you are about to complain that your engagement isn’t what it used to be and it’s all LinkedIn fault for strangling the distribution of your content….you’re right. Now get over it. Either pay for sponsored updates, or figure out how to work within LinkedIn’s rules.    

We interrupt this article for a sidebar:

I am always amused by the people who say they don’t use LinkedIn anymore. But while not using LinkedIn anymore, they find the time to be on LinkedIn, come across a post or article, read it, stop to add a comment saying they don’t use LinkedIn any more, and come back repeatedly to argue with anyone who disagrees with them.

My content generates engagement. And when it does I engage right back. It’s a great way to meet new people and develop my LinkedIn network. I meet people that may become customers and just as importantly, I meet people that may refer me to potential customers.  

Writing content that works, whether it be writing articles or posts, is time consuming. Sharing other people’s content, or getting involved in the discussions that revolve around other people’s content, is time consuming. Make sure that that time consumed on LinkedIn is time invested and not just time spent.  

 

What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Article Or Post On LinkedIn? (updated for 2018)

Back in early 2016, I wrote an article trying to define what a “view” actually was on LinkedIn. In a twist of LinkedIn irony, it became the most viewed content I have written and published on LinkedIn, and still receives hundreds of views every week. And while the core of that article remains valid, LinkedIn has made a lot of changes since then, so this is an update to that original article.

So What does it mean when someone “views” your post on LinkedIn?

Well that depends, because a “post” is not simply a post anymore on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has separated published content into “articles” and “posts” and views appear are counted differently for each one.

Article or Post? A critical distinction

From the top of your Homepage, when you click on “Write an article” you are taken to LinkedIn Publisher. This is intended for long form content. These articles stay associated with your profile in “Your activity” page under “Articles”.

But at the top of your Homepage when you “Share an article, photo or update”, you are creating a post. For posts that you write from scratch, you are allowed limited verbiage (1300 characters), and the post gets dumped into our homepage feeds. These stay associated with your profile in the “Your activity” page under “Posts”.

LinkedIn can be inconsistent with the terminology, and it can sometimes be confusing, but if you went into the LinkedIn blog-style Publisher and published something it is an article. Everything else is a post. Shared someone else’s post or article? That becomes your post. Shared a photo? That’s your post. “Shared an update” ? That’s your post too.  

How are views different for Posts and Articles?

I wrote an article a few weeks ago. A couple of friends shared it (note again that under the post/article definitions that at this point my article served as the basis for their posts). One told me he had gotten 400 views on his post (sharing my article) and the other had gotten 2,000 (sharing the same article). Meanwhile, my original article had received 200 views at that point. It was obvious that post and article views were being counted differently. But how was this happening and what does it mean?

So what is an Article view?

You need to click on and open an article to have it counted as a view. I think LinkedIn counts article views by recognizing the URL for your article is open on a reader’s device.

Note that a view is not the same thing as a “read”. Someone could open your article, read the first line and lose interest, or get interrupted at the office, or decide the article wasn’t for them, or stop reading for any number of reasons.

The good news? All your article views are “legitimate.” Someone had to take a specific action to open your article.

And what is a Post view?

On January 31 2017, this explanation appeared in the help section on LinkedIn:

When you share an update, a “view” is counted when the update is loaded on the viewer’s screen. Viewers do not necessarily need to click or read the update to count as a view, but rather have the update loaded on their Homepage.

(Note that this is an instance of LinkedIn referring to a “post” as an “update”.  Arghh.)

This also would imply that if you open your homepage and hit “page down” a few times, you have just “viewed” twenty or thirty posts. This would go a long way to explaining how posts seem to get so many more views than articles.

But…basing post views purely on appearances in the homepage feed would seem to favor people with huge LinkedIn networks. If you have five hundred connections and I have five thousand, and our posts get loaded on our connections screens, my posts are always going to get more “views” than yours. This is clearly not the case, so there must be other factors at play – enter the LinkedIn algorithms. LinkedIn sends your post out to small subgroup of your connections and if the post gets enough love – likes, comments and shares – then LinkedIn will distribute it further.

I think the best way of thinking of article views versus post views is:

An article view seems to suggest intent (the person had to click to read your article), while a post view seems to suggest opportunity (someone could have seen your post).

So what do views really mean?

Lots of views are an ego boost. But note that in 2017 LinkedIn stopped showing us how many views someone else’s post or article has received, so LinkedIn obviously doesn’t want us focusing on views as an end in itself.

Let’s say you publish two articles (or posts):

The first one gets 500 hundred views and 30 comments.

The second one gets 1000 views and 5 comments.

Which was the more successful? I would say the first one. More people found that one compelling enough to comment on.

I think it is instructive that LinkedIn notifies us when people engage with our content. And I can see which individual people liked, commented on and shared my content.

We don’t get notifications saying things like, “Hey, your post got another 85 views”. And being told I got four thousand views when I can’t tell who any of those viewers are doesn’t help me engage with those viewers.

Views are nice, but engagement with your posts or articles can lead to conversations that can lead to connections that can lead to networking and other business opportunities.