Six Outreach Methods On LinkedIn. Which Is Best?

Some doors are easier to open than others.

You have found someone on LinkedIn that you would like to engage with. But how do you get in touch with that person? Well, there are six possible ways to do so on LinkedIn, and I thought it would be a good idea to cover what they are and the upside/downside to using each one.

Note that with respect to all of these, you need to be careful who you are reaching out to – if you are reaching out to someone who rarely uses LinkedIn your chances of getting a response deteriorates pretty quickly.

Use InMail  (requires a premium subscription)

If you have a LinkedIn Premium Subscription you get an allotment of these every month. With InMail you can send a message to any second or third degree connection on LinkedIn.

InMail gets a bad rap but that is because most LinkedIn users are inept at using it. They send messages that they wouldn’t dream of sending to someone via email. InMail messages written well get outstanding response rates.

Interacting with other people’s content 

The idea being that you will wind up starting a conversation with them and that will kindle your relationship.


I say “maybe” because you need the following to happen. The other person needs to:

a) notice your comment


b) appreciate what you said


c) think it is interesting enough to respond back


d) not having someone else respond and have your target pass on

responding to you


e) be willing to respond to your overtures to go beyond talking about a post

This method does work, but you’re asking for a lot to go right for it to do so. For my thinking, this idea just relies on too many good things happening.

Use the free LinkedIn In-Group message system

You can send messages to fellow LinkedIn group members and these messages are free.

If there are people you would like to develop a relationship with in a group you both share, send them a message.

If you share a group, you share an interest. Capitalize on it.

Use Open Profile Messaging (Free InMail)

Open Profile messages are free messages you can send to LinkedIn users who have Premium Subscriptions. Note that Premium users can turn this feature on or off, but my experience shows that most of them don’t even realize they can turn it off. I conducted a study of COO’s in the Chicago area and found that 75% of the ones who had Premium Subscriptions had them set to receive Open Profile messages.

Cold connection requests

This one’s a wild card.

There are two problems with this, one that used to be bad and is now trivial, and another that was trivial and is now bad!

The old bad result was being rejected. Collecting enough rejections could result in LinkedIn restricting your account.

Having your account restricted means having to know and provide the email address as part of any connection requests you make from now on. I had this happen to me early in my time on LinkedIn when I sent invitations to connect to customers of a company I used to work with. Apparently I remembered them a lot better than they remembered me! It took a lot of fast talking with LinkedIn to get my privileges restored.

But these days, we are in a time when people accept almost any invitation to connect. And this has created the second problem.

Connecting is now easy. Starting conversations with your connections is now hard.

This has become really tough. I can’t tell you the number of people who I have connected with, where they accepted my request and I could not start a conversation with them, or even get a response from them. Even worse, I can’t tell you the number of people who asked me to connect and then I never heard from them again.

I have actually found it better to start a conversation with a non-connection that turns into a connection, than to connect and try to start a conversation.

Get introduced to a 2nd level connection via a mutual connection

This is the absolute best way to contact a stranger on LinkedIn. And as you might expect, it can be the most difficult to pull off. 

Getting an introduction reduces the prospect’s perceived risk in talking with you.

Let’s say I want to meet Alice, who has come up in a LinkedIn search. I can see from the search results page that she is a second degree connection. I can also see that I am connected to Alice through five of my direct first degree connections (this shows in the search results too. Try it). What I do now is choose the best one and contact him or her and ask for an introduction to Alice.

This is by far the best way to meet someone new on LinkedIn as long as your introducer has credibility with the person they are introducing you to. Their introduction bestows credibility upon you. But that credibility only gets you the first call or message though, then it’s up to you.  This is the only method where you start with some credibility and stand a good chance of getting your foot in the door.

The bottom line? There is a variety of Outreach methods at your disposal. Making use of the right one in the right place takes a bit of practice, but is well worth it.

Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two articles like the one above, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page:

Obligatory boilerplate: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.