Why I Customize All My LinkedIn Outreach Messages

(photo caption: with this customized wardrobe this young man is ready for anything winter can throw at him)

I hear this so often that I finally had to write about it. I am talking with someone who wants to get more sales leads out of LinkedIn. One of the recommendations that I always make is that any kind of outreach should be customized and personalized to the person that will be receiving the outreach message.

And what do I get? The terrible too’s.

That’s too hard and it will take too long.

What do they want? They want a trick that requires no real work on their behalf. They want to automate with a templated cookie cutter message they can send to everybody, just changing the first name for each person, or the name and title something like that.

What they want is an email blast, only one done on a social network so they can convince themselves that what they are doing is “social selling.”

Here are four reasons why I customize and personalize every message that I send on LinkedIn:

Customizing and personalizing requires me to actually look at a person’s LinkedIn profile to ensure that my message applies to that specific person. It shows that I  have invested time and effort in the other person. I reviewed their profile and their LinkedIn activity. My message ties in with information found in those areas.

Personalizing sets me apart from the masses sending the same junk over and over. My messages are different. There’s a focus on the recipient that that recipient doesn’t see in other messages in their inbox.   

Personalizing shows my respect for the other person. At the end of this message I am going to ask the recipient for something and the respect I have earned can help get me a reply.

And the last reason? It works. In the last six months of 2017 I sent 157 unique outreach messages to people I did not know. I received 91 positive replies. If I had sent a cookie cutter message to those 157 people my responses probably could have been counted on one hand.  

LinkedIn is like a lot of things,what you get out of it is related to what you put into it.   

A LinkedIn Allegory

(This could be a sunrise or sunset, but spam is spam. Photo courtesy Mark Johnston)

 

LinkedIn member:  I have come up with this great new social selling idea.

Me: Tell me

LinkedIn member: I put together a limited time offer, and I send it in a message to all my connections.

Me: Umm…

LinkedIn member: Hang on, here’s the best part. I can only send them one at a time, but all I have to do is copy and paste my message in, add the member name  and off it goes!

Me: Umm….

LinkedIn member: And I hire someone in the third world to take over my account and do it for me for peanuts!

Me: So you are going to send dozens or hundreds of the same message to people who didn’t ask to receive that message?

LinkedIn member: Umm…

Me: I think you just invented Spam.

Moral:

Think before you press “send”. This whole “trust” thing matters.

Using The 80/20 Rule Of LinkedIn Participation To Your Advantage

Here’s a simple way to get more responses from more people on LinkedIn.

In LinkedIn’s last publicly announced quarterly results almost exactly a year ago, one statistic released was that seventy-eight percent of LinkedIn users show up less than once a month. LinkedIn consistently posted similar engagement percentages in previous quarters too, and as Microsoft surely would have informed the world if this number had improved, I assume it hasn’t changed much.  

The other twenty-two percent of LinkedIn users show up at least once a month. So who should you be trying to contact? Correct. The 100 million members that 22% represents.  

Sending a message or invite to connect to someone in the other 78%  is a questionable strategy. When is the next time they will show up on LinkedIn and see your message? Thanksgiving? New Years? Spring 2019?

So in theory, paying attention to the 22% is a good idea. But what about in practice?

Premium account badge

A little gold premium account badge on a LinkedIn profile means that person has (surprise) a premium account. The assumption being that someone who has a premium account actually comes around LinkedIn on a regular basis to use that account and get their money’s worth. But there is one thing that you still won’t know: you can’t tell whether someone is paying for their premium account or whether their company is. An individual covering their own costs seems more likely to show up more often. A possible indicator, but a mediocre one.  

Completed profiles

A complete profile tells you that the user realized the importance of LinkedIn…at one time. The problem being you don’t know if that time is now.

Lots of connections

Now we are getting somewhere. Someone with more connections typically means someone who “gets” networking, and they will check in on LinkedIn more often. Not completely reliable as an indicator, but I like the odds of getting a response from someone with two thousand connections over someone with two hundred.

Activity

This is the “aha” indicator. You can spot someone’s activity right on their profile. And because activity is date stamped, you can get a pretty good idea of what the minimum baseline of activity is for that person (because some activity you won’t see, like searches, or reading posts). Recent activity is the one indicator I use every time in considering whether to approach a person on Linkedin.

Activity with you

This may sound odd, but let me explain. People engage with you in one or more of five ways –  like, comment, share, profile view or follow. I added this one because most people don’t take advantage of the situation when someone shows an interest in them or something they have written. When someone tells me that they got twenty likes on their post, I will ask them what they did with all those likes, and often the answer is “nothing.” Well, why not? If I get twenty likes, I am all over those twenty profiles seeing if these are people I want to know better.

The ideal situation is when the LinkedIn user shows two or three of these indicators.

There no guarantees you will get a response after identifying one of these more frequent users, but at least you can put the odds in your favor.