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.

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?  

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.