Establishing Your Credibility In Outreach Messages: 4 Ways That Work

The Captains here have lost their credibility

…and 3 ways to avoid

Establishing your credibility is one of the core components of an effective outreach message on LinkedIn. Because if you have no credibility, your message will just get ignored. 

This can be a really difficult task, especially when establishing your credibility is only one of the many things you need to do in the space of a few sentences. 

Here are four ways you can establish your credibility, four ways that work. I have these roughly in order from strongest to weakest.

Get an introduction 

This is number one, but only if the person introducing you has credibility with the other person they are introducing you to. In effect when you send a message to the person you have been introduced to, you will have some of that credibility transferred to you. 

Get a referral

Almost as good. I use this one a lot. I will find someone who looks like a peer of the person I want to reach at the target company, but who looks more “gettable” via LinkedIn. I then ask that person to confirm my original target’s role. When they confirm my original target is the person I should talk to, I now have a referral because “Dave told me you are the person I should talk to.” (Thanks Dave!)

Talk about relevant results 

That is, you talk about how you have achieved results for a company they know and respect. This is a very powerful technique. You will look for a couple of your customers that you  figure the target will know and respect and tell the prospect in one line how we were able to improve those other companies’ situations. Done effectively, the target is dying to know how you did it. You both obtain credibility and generate a desire for them to talk to you.

Show them you know something that will intrigue them

This is one of my fallbacks, and it is based on LinkedIn research. There is lots of information about companies, their competitors, and their employees on LinkedIn. All it takes is a little work to put together something that will, well, freak them out. “I see you have increased your R&D headcount by around 18% over the past two years, while your competitor A has flatlined and competitor B is actually hemorrhaging engineers.” Similar to the tactic #3 above, done effectively, the recipient has only one question, “How the heck does he know that?”

Now we start getting into the methods that are a little lame. Here are three ways that most people try to establish their credibility that are best described as weak. 

Name drop

This is usually when you share a connection or multiple connections but you either don’t know the connections well enough to ask for an introduction, or the connections don’t know the target well enough to introduce you. But it’s all you’ve got. I don’t like this one because a lot of connections are weak and don’t mean that much. I have over five thousand connections and I often have people approach me and mention people I had forgotten I was connected with. That doesn’t really move the needle much for me. 

You make an offer 

A free demo or free trial, something that implies you have value. I avoid this one because it assumes that the prospect is at a place in the sales cycle that I have no clue that they are really in. Offers work on places like websites where a ton of people can see them, but one to one in outreach messages? Naw. 

You make an abstract claim 

This usually consists of a value statement with a number attached. “We save companies over 50% on their labor costs.” The vagueness is the killer here. “Which companies?”, “What constitutes labor costs?”, “Where’s the proof?” 

I  refuse to use these last three. They are weak and overused. The best way I know how to establish credibility is to combine the first or second method from last week and combine it with the third or fourth from last week. Get Bob to introduce you and then talk about the results you got for Alpha Corp. Your prospect knows Bob and Alpha, a double dose of credibility.