Make Your LinkedIn Outreach Messages Short

There is a time and a place for storytelling, and your outreach message is not that place.

This is one of the hardest parts of writing a good outreach message or InMail. Given practice and some coaching I find people can write gorgeous InMails…that are two hundred and fifty words long. Figuring out how and where to take 60% of that verbiage out is where the real work is. Because the general rule of thumb for InMail message length is 100 words. The result is most people either give up and send their message regardless, or they make some quick edist, get to 135 to 150 words and call it a day.

I, on the other hand, consider 100 words to be my limit, and my goal is to always try for 80. In outreach, brevity is huge. You can’t afford any flab in there as the prospect’s attention will wander and then you are toast.

So to start with, remember what we need to accomplish in those 80-100 words.

  • Tell them why I am contacting them
  • Customized to them personally
  • Establishes your credibility as an expert
  • Alludes to their results (sometimes called a value snippet)
  • A call to action

Heck, there’s 30 words in those five bullet points!

Here is the process I use:

1) I write each bullet point separately.

2) Then I cobble them together. This usually requires some changes in the wording in order to be able to segue from one point to the next.

3) Then I count the words. Often some swearing is involved when I see how many words my first draft has.

4) Then I get my word processing machete out and go to work.

Here are some tips that help me a lot:

A lot of the verbal flab actually falls away pretty quickly. You can dump the written equivalents of saying “um”…like giving your name. That was in the InMail header. It’s unnecessary.

If you can figure out how to make it work, combine two of these objectives in one sentence. Credibility and their results can often be combined for example. Find a company they would know that you have worked with and allude to the results that you got for them.

Take any sentence you have written and challenge yourself to say the same thing in half the words. You might surprise yourself when you see how close you can come to doing this. I don’t often make the half, but two thirds is usually doable.

Try it yourself. I think you will like the results. In outreach messages, length does not mean strength.

LinkedIn’s Agenda Is Not Necessarily Your Agenda

It’s all in your perspective: You see a teddy gear. The teddy bear sees lunch.
LinkedIn is on a roll these days introducing lots of new features.
But a lot of these features are experiments. If they work, great. If they don’t that will be the end of the feature. A lot of these features are just copies of what is working elsewhere. Video is huge somewhere else? LinkedIn is all over it. Stories are big? Tiktok? Here we come.
 LinkedIn’s product managers are no smarter than you or I.
You have to remember that what LinkedIn wants from us is three things:
  • Our money via subscriptions or advertising dollars. LinkedIn should never be confused with Mother Theresa.
  • Our time. The more time we spend on LinkedIn, the more money LinkedIn can charge advertisers.
  • Our data. The more info we have on our profiles, the more lucrative LinkedIn is as a platform for the sales, marketing and recruiting people that make up the majority of their customer base.
I have no problem with the first one, the subscription and advertising dollars, that’s obvious. I have no problem with the third one either because that is easily controlled and we understand that. It’s the time one in the middle that is insidious and that we need to watch out for.
Getting more utility out of LinkedIn is nice, but for LinkedIn, getting you to spend more time on LinkedIn is nicer. So you will see features that appeal to your vanity like post views. You will see features that make you think you are not spending enough time on LinkedIn like the Social Selling Index. And you will see features like LinkedIn Stories that quite frankly are a complete and utter waste of your time.
So when you see any new feature on LinkedIn or suggestions as to what you should be doing on LinkedIn, remember that LinkedIn is making that recommendation because it is good for LinkedIn. If it is good for you, that’s a bonus. It’s like the old joke we used to make at a company I worked with twenty years ago, that our ideal customer had to have a pulse and be able to pay their bill. And if push came to shove, the pulse was optional.
LinkedIn can be just as dangerous a time suck as TikTok, Instagram or any other platform. Your time is precious. Have a plan for how you use LinkedIn and stick to that plan.

Solving The “I don’t know what to write about on LinkedIn” Problem

“I don’t know what to write about.” is one of the two objections I get when I talk to people about writing content for LinkedIn or elsewhere.

If you are one of those people, here is an exercise that will help. Take out a pad and pen, or open a new document on your laptop. 

Answer these questions. Take your time. 

1) What is the specific problem that your product or service solves for your client?

If you can’t answer this one, your problems are bigger than not knowing what to write about! 

2) What issues do your clients face?

What do they need to do that they can’t do now? Or what they want to do, but they don’t have enough information to tackle it yet. Note that the answer to these questions may be as simple as “increase sales by 5%” or as complex as “address new market opportunity.” 

3) What is their current solution? 

How are they addressing the issues in question number two currently? 

4) Why are they unhappy with it?

This is the “gap” question, and it is critical. What is your prospect’s perceived gap between where they are now and where they would like to be? 

5) What information do they need?

In order to close the gap, they need to do something. The information they need may range from something as simple as “how do we get a little bit better at what we are already doing” to something more open ended like “is it possible to close the gap?”

6) How do we reduce the fear of making a wrong decision?

This is where we come in. We are in possession of the information they need to feel comfortable with the decisions they are making. In the end, it’s all about risk. And your customer wants to know how they can lower the risk of doing something.

7) What kind of information will help the client?

What specific information can we provide that will help them in their decision making? 

8) Is it targeted at a specific personna?

Who does your information target? The user, the buyer, the technical influencer? You may need to tailor your content for the specific audience you have in mind. 

9) How does this content help me reach my business goals?

What specifically does providing this content do for me? Provide credibility? Proof that they belong in the funnel? Proof they don’t? 

10) Does this information help the client?

Sanity check: this had better help the client and not just help me!

And another thing: At the top I mentioned two objections I always get. The other objection is “I don’t write that well.” Which is b.s. Everyone of us can tell stories, it’s in our nature as human beings. A lot of my work with my clients is helping them see that they have a lot of good stories that their prospective customers would find interesting and educational. 

For all you reluctant writers and publishers ut there, repeat after me: 

“This isn’t’ rocket science.”

Have a process.

Work the process.

Get feedback.

Adjust the process.

Repeat the process.

 

Anatomy Of A Failed Outreach Message

Let’s look at a message I received in my InBox recently and see just why it, and ones like it, fail miserably. I have changed the name and company to protect the guilty party (as you will see, they have enough trouble already without me piling on).

Hi Bruce,

 My name is David from Lead Madness. 

For the past year, we’ve been helping Digital Marketing Agencies connect with High-Net-Worth Prospects on LinkedIn looking for help with building funnels, attracting clients, website creation, paid ad assitance, and more.

 On average we are assisting in adding an average of 10 – 15+ automatically booked calls on their calendars and 1-3+ signed agreements.

 We are trying to get into contact with network groups to do an overall campaign for a franchise network.

 Do you have some time to talk?

Regards,

David

Here’s my calendar to book an intro call:

https://calendly.com/etc etc

Okay, let’s break this message down.

Hi Bruce,

My name is David from Lead Madness. 

What he did: This first sentence is unnecessary, as he is listed as the sender of the message by LinkedIn or by my email software. He has added the company name, but that is best used elsewhere.

What he could have done: Left this sentence out. You don’t have much time to get my attention and this is not going to do it.

For the past year, we’ve been helping Digital Marketing Agencies connect with High-Net-Worth Prospects on LinkedIn looking for help with building funnels, attracting clients, website creation, paid ad assitance, and more.

What he did: It’s amazing how much can go wrong in one sentence.

  • “For the past year” tells me they have been in business for a year. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to stay away from people with one year of experience, whether they are surgeons, lawyers, or lead generation specialists.
  • Next, David has assumed I am a Digital Marketing Agency going after High Net Worth Prospects. David apparently has not bothered to look at my LinkedIn Profile.
  • Note also that David’s company offers multiple different services “and more.” When I started in sales we used to call this the “shopping cart approach.” I am going to tell you about everything we do, and you can just stop me when I get to something you are interested in and put it in the shopping cart.
  • And not proofing your outreach message to catch the misspelling of “assistance” does not reflect well on his attention to detail.

What he could have done: Made one point and made it well. Something like, “We specialize in website design. I had a quick look at your website and there are four easy changes we could help you with that would result in a 50% increase in visitors.”

On average we are assisting in adding an average of 10 – 15+ automatically booked calls on their calendars and 1-3+ signed agreements.

What he did: “on average we are assisting an average” ?? You’re in marketing and you wrote this? And maybe I am nitpicking but a range can’t have a “plus” in it. “10-15+” sounds like one of those bad weight loss ads where you can lose “up to thirty or more pounds in the first week.”

What he could have done: Pick one metric that his clients want improved and use a hard number that shows their success. “Our clients have been averaging nine more appointments per month when using our system.”

Do you have some time to talk?

What he did: he gave me an easy out, because none of us ever has some time to talk, we’re busy. And “some” is too open ended and belittles the value of my time.

What he should have done: “Do you have ten minutes to talk about the four easy improvements to your website?” Ten minutes for concrete things I could do? Yeah, I’m in for that.

The frightening thing about this message is that it is one of the better ones. Most of them seem to consist of “Hi Bruce, we help companies improve their bottom line. Do you have time for a call next Tuesday?”

So if you are sending out messages or outreach or connection requests like these, please stop. The good news though is that when you put together good outreach messages, boy do you ever stand out from the crowd.

The obligatory disclaimer: 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.

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

The Curse Of Second Guessing Yourself

 

This is for anyone who writes or has considered writing on LinkedIn. When I talk with people about publishing on LinkedIn, this idea comes up a lot. 

When I publish an article, a post or one of my newsletters, I want to educate and inform the people that read it on how to more effectively use LinkedIn, or at least to get them to question how they are using LinkedIn. 

Probably the biggest question I ask myself after I finish writing something is “Is this good enough?”  

Often I will look at what I have written and say to myself “this one seems pretty thin” and wonder whether this is something I really want to publish. Then I go ahead and publish it anyway and the article I questioned will get a pile of views and drive a ton of engagement. 

It took me quite a while, but eventually I figured out that I was fighting my instincts. My instincts, my gut feeling based on having written and published hundreds of posts and articles about using LinkedIn, and having reviewed the feedback each and every one of those had received, my instincts were telling me that this was a good post. But the “intellectual me” was overthinking things and thinking that this post or article was mundane. I was forgetting that my readership doesn’t live and breathe LinkedIn all day every day like I do. 

It is way too easy to overthink this stuff. When I am sending an outreach message, I ask myself what the other person wants, and how can I show them that I can help them get it? I don’t have exotic tricks and word games and closing techniques and hokum like that. There are best practices to follow in order to get your message opened and read, but it really is that simple. 

So today’s message is: It’s simpler than you think.

There’s a reason you have a gut instinct – it’s based on your experience.

Go with that instinct.

It may not be correct or the best move all the time but you will save a huge amount of time and angst in letting your instincts guide you. 

The obligatory disclaimer: 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.

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

Don’t Sweat The Short Term Results, Focus on Your LinkedIn Process

 

I read a really good book over the Christmas / New Years break, “The Biggest Bluff” by Maria Konnikova. She uses high stakes poker to talk about making better decisions. I liked it so much, I have already re-read it once, highlighting it like crazy, and have bought her other two books. Great stuff on the psychology of sales, and highly recommended.

One of her ideas is the basis behind today’s newsletter. In essence, she talks about not sweating the results of individual poker hands, but to focus on your process. Sometimes you are going to have a pair of aces, play the hand absolutely correctly, and have someone draw a better hand and beat you. You did everything right, but still lost. The problem is many people will focus on that hand and that loss, how unfair it was, and how they should have won. This is a waste of time. Instead, if you focus on your process, over time you will win your share of the hands played, and overcome the odd bit of bad luck.

There are two applications of this in our work in sales. The first is the obvious one in sales itself. You are going to get beaten by competitors, and sometimes that will be due to luck or bad breaks. I had a sale that I thought I had nailed down last year. Everything was in place. I especially had the key decision maker who had access to the funds on board. He was a big fan of using me to help his company. I was a week away from signing the deal and…that key guy jumpedship and went to another company, and everything he was working on became radioactive. I lost the sale. Bummer. But I did everything right. What was I going to do, make him stay there?

So when you lose a sale, or you don’t get the results you were hoping for in this one instance, don’t focus on the result, focus on the process. Is your process sound? Did you follow it? If the answer is yes, chalk up the loss to bad luck, and don’t think of it again. Over time, you will luck into a few too, and they will tend to even out.

The second application is with LinkedIn. The same holds true for LinkedIn that holds true for sales in general. If you follow your process, you will be successful. Except that there are two problems with this idea:

  1. Most people and companies don’t have a “LinkedIn process”
  2. And even when they do, they don’t follow it.

Most LinkedIn users have a vague idea of what they want to accomplish, but don’t articulate it very well (or at all!), and then the activities they pursue on LinkedIn don’t necessarily fit with what their goals are.

For those of us in sales there are four basic things that LinkedIn is good for:

  • LinkedIn can be used to increase our reach, making more people aware of us.
  • LinkedIn can be used to increase our credibility, having us seen as a viable alternative for our prospective customers.
  • LinkedIn research can give us info to build better outreach messages, increasing our success rate with new prospects.
  • LinkedIn can be an extremely effective place to send those initial outreach messages.

So my message for today is this: when you use LinkedIn, have a reason to do so. Know what you are trying to achieve. Have a plan for what activities or tasks will accomplish your goals. Have a process. Follow the process. Test the process when needed. And you will be successful.

I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

The obligatory disclaimer: 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.

Parsing LinkedIn User Types To Guide Outreach Tactics

Today’s newsletter is longer than you are used to from me at 1300 words. It will take you 4-5 minutes to read, but these ideas will change the way you perform outreach on LinkedIn.

I have talked often about social selling and how a modified version of the Pareto Principle applies to LinkedIn. As a quick refresher, 60% of LinkedIn users show up less than once a month, and of the 40% that do, perhaps half of them show up once or twice a week. Where this is imporetant to outreach is that trying to contact people that don’t show up very often is not a winning strategy, while outreach to people who do use LinkedIn often is a good strategy.

Some of the comments and interactions I have received on this idea got me thinking: What if I could further refine that 60/40 split? And if I could, how could that information be used to our advantage on LinkedIn?

And that’s when I thought about the applicability of the 90-9-1 rule to this case. Often called the “90-9-1 rule of internet participation”, it hypothesizes that one percent of the users in an internet community publish the content, nine percent of the users engage with that content and ninety percent of the users just lurk in the background.

This rule appears to apply to LinkedIn. Ever wonder why LinkedIn groups don’t work? A large part of it is you need a large number of group members to get the ten percent that will provide and engage with the group content (and I am not talking about people who post and run in groups).

So here’s my hypotheses as this rule applies to LinkedIn.

  • 1% of LinkedIn users are very active and create and publish content.
  • 9% of LinkedIn users are active, showing up and engaging with that content at least once a week.

Then I split the remaining 90% into two subsets:

  • 30% are lurkers. These are people who show up at least once a month, but do not participate when they do.
  • And the remaining 60% of users don’t really use LinkedIn much at all.

Caveats: different types of job functions use LinkedIn in different ways. Solo business owners, sales, marketing, human resources, and recruiters all use LinkedIn heavily. The percentages will be higher for them – a larger percentage of salespeople use LinkedIn more often than Engineers for example. But that means if these people skew high, everyone else skews low!

So how do we tell which group a prospect on LinkedIn fits into, and knowing this,what is the best way to use LinkedIn with this prospect?

We will go backwards from the “seldom” users to the “heavy” users.

The 60% of LinkedIn users who show up rarely.

“Rarely” being less than once a month, according to LinkedIn’s definition.

How can we identify these users?

Low numbers of connections. Someone with a number of connections in the low hundreds is someone who does not see the use of LinkedIn as a tool.

What I call “skinny” profiles. On skinny profiles you will see things like:

  • Odd photos that are not professional. They just pulled any old photo and used it.
  • No background banner across the top
  • No “about” section
  • Experience sections that consist of titles only, no descriptions
  • Some skills with low numbers of endorsements

You get the idea. They look kind of like a skeleton of a profile. There’s no flesh on those bones.

What is the best way to use LinkedIn with these people?

Well, contacting them via LinkedIn is a losing proposition. They check in maybe once every four or six months, look around, maybe look at a few colleagues profiles, a competitors company page, wonder about all the fuss over LinkedIn is, then either passes on reading any messages or just deletes them all.

But what you can do is use LinkedIn for research. It won’t be great, but it is better than nothing, and may give you ideas for your outreach when you do try doing so via email, cold call or other means.

The 30% of LinkedIn users who lurk

These are people who show up at least once a month, and maybe even once or twice a week, but they do not publish and they do not engage.

So how do we identify these users?

In general they have “more” – more connections and more fleshed out profiles than the skinny sixty percenters. Their experience section will be filled out, and likely their “about” section too. There will be lots of skills, and they will be in a relevant order. One giveaway for these people that I see quite often is the “almost” profile, that is a complete profile with everything there but their current experience section has no description of their responsibilities there. Their previous experience sections are full of responsibilities, projects worked on, and accomplishments, but the current one is just a title and the start date.

What is the best way to use LinkedIn with these people?

Your research will work a lot better with these people as there is more info to work with, but they are on the fence as far as outreach messages are concerned. You may be messaging someone who uses LinkedIn once a week, or once every four weeks. To my mind, this makes messaging these people something I would do as a last resort. I am going to try email, networking through more active users at their company, or even trying them on Twitter (don’t laugh, it works) before I try using LinkedIn.

The 9% of LinkedIn users that engage with others on LinkedIn

We have made the leap to the good folks. These are easy to identify as you can see their activity on their LinkedIn profile.

How can we use LinkedIn with these people?

Here’s where the use of LinkedIn takes off. Not only can we research them via their profiles, but we can research them via their activity. And because activity is time and date stamped, you can get a good idea of how often they use LinkedIn and sometimes even what time of day they do so. You can also get clues by seeing what type of activity they engage in. Are they just engaging with their employer’s activity? Are they just rubber-stamp “liking” other people’s posts? Are they commenting? Are they getting into conversation threads on other people’s posts? Do they share other people’s or company’s content? If so, do they provide context with the shared content of just hit the share button and leave it at that?

All these can provide clues and give you ideas about what you can say in an outreach message.

And lastly of course, you can send them outreach messages and feel good about the probability that they will be seen and read.

The 1% of LinkedIn users that publish content.

These are the writers. These are the people that actively use LinkedIn as part of their sales, marketing or both. These are the powewr users, the people that “get” LinkedIn.

Identifying these people is easy enough, just go to their profiles and click on “recent activity”.

These people are the gold prospects – they have fleshed out profiles, activity you can review, they will see your outreach message, and because of the way they use LinkedIn, they are quite likely to answer.

I have shortcuts for identifying some of these types of users, but I’ll leave that for another newsletter. And of course, identifying these people is only the first half or outreach. Putting together a message that will get the answer you want is a newsletter for another day.

The obligatory disclaimer: 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. If you are an individual or company that wants to increase their effectiveness at using LinkedIn for sales or marketing, send me a message, it’s free as I am Open Profile.

The offer: Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles. This week’s LinkedIn newsletter was originally published as part of my email newsletter a couple months ago. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

 

A Story Which Reveals What I Think Of Automated Lead Gen On LinkedIn  

Prospect: I see that you are advertising automated lead generation for LinkedIn? 

Sales Rep: You’ve come to the right place. We have a nice suite with modern selling, the buyer’s journey, thought leadership and digital selling.

Prospect: Hmm…

Sales Rep: or how about a lovely set of tools incorporating modern selling, warm leads, spam and actionable content?

Prospect: Did you just say spam? 

Sales Rep: Then again our most popular offering has the buyer’s journey, spam, the social selling index, spam and a disclaimer that you are responsible for ensuring you are in compliance with the LinkedIn user agreement. 

Prospect: I see. But…

Sales Rep (interrupting): ‘Course you could always go with the modern sales approach, spam, artificial intelligence, spam, messaging and spam. 

Prospect: Wait a second, are you suggesting this may not be in compliance with the Li user agreement?

Sales rep: That’s not our problem. You’re the one using the software. Where was I? Oh yes, there’s always the spam, filtering, spam, social selling, spam, outreach, spam and spam. 

Prospect: Well in that case… 

Sales rep: I’m not done yet. There’s spam, spam, spam, spam and auto-repeat sending of the spam over and over again.

Prospect: Is your product really just spam?

Sales rep: Mostly. 

 

(with apologies to Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, and Palin) 

A Simple Path To Success On LinkedIn

…it’s all about their results, not your features

Here it is:

1) Figure out what results your customers want

2) Show them you can help them achieve those results

You tell this to someone and they scoff and say, “yeah. that’s marketing 101”. Then they go off and ignore the marketing 101 and talk about how great they are and not their customer’s problems. If I go and look at ten LinkedIn (Company) Pages, what will I see? A couple posts that genuninely assist prospective customers that are outnumbered by stuff like interviews with the CEO who outlines their thoughts on the next ten years.

When you start thinking of your ideal customer’s needs first, you will be more successful.

And LinkedIn is the perfect vehicle for this way of thinking, regardless of whether you are in marketing pondering what piece of content you need next, in sales wondering what to say in that outreach message to a prospect, or if you work for yourself and are both the marketing and the sales force.

To be successful, you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and start asking yourself:

  • What do they want?
  • What are they trying to do better?
  • What would they like to do that they can’t do now?
  • What process or processes are they they trying to improve?
  • Are they wondering whether what they would like to do or where they would like to go is even possible?

And the higher up the corporate ladder your prospect is, the more this is true. What do all executives want? Information to help them make better decisions. Give it to them. You aren’t going to be in the position of the consulting companies like McKinsey or Deloitte, but you are in a much more agile position to be able to react quickly.

What these questions help you identify is the gap that exists between where they are now and where they would like to be. Your job – whether it be by your next blog post, case study, outreach message or even the note you include with a connection request – is to show you have helped people in similar positions with similar problems in the past and it resulted in those people achieving good outcomes.

You want to be a resource. You want to be the person with the answers. You want to be the person they turn to when they have a question in your area of expertise.

Everything you do on LinkedIn should be aimed at this idea. Because that is all that matters to your ideal reader or prospects. That is why they are using LinkedIn.

It’s a simple message that needs repeating.

Using LinkedIn To Make Better Prospecting Decisions

One of the books that I read over the Christmas break was “The Biggest Bluff” by Maria Konnikova. The book is about her experiment taking up professional poker to see if her background in psychology (she has a PhD) would help her decision making in playing poker. The book is outstanding and I have re-read it twice in the past three months to just take it more slowly and let it soak in.

Besides being a good read, with a lot of good stories, a lot of what Konnikova has to say can be applied to sales and to LinkedIn. I think the whole idea of using LinkedIn to help us make better decisions applies. Here are some examples.

Use LinkedIn to find the right people

One of the great things I like about LinkedIn is it helps avoid the “anyone who” problem. This is the idea that salespeople draw too wide a net in order to drum up sales prospects, as in “We sell to anyone who builds medical devices.” or “We sell to anyone who uses LinkedIn for sales.”

If you have the ability to use LinkedIn search appropriately (and that can be a big “if”), you can hone in on the exact people who are the best fit for you. I have a client who manufactures printed circuit boards. Based on my research there are around 17,000 companies in North America who buy printed circuit boards. So nominally, they have 17,000 prospects they can find through LinkedIn. But…they have two applications that are their specialty. Using LinkedIn they can identify the hundred or so companies who are the best fit for their two specialities.

They use LinkedIn to make better decisions as to who to go after first.

Using LinkedIn to identify possible options

There are three ideas under this umbrella.

The first is that LinkedIn can show you paths to people you would like to meet. LinkedIn will show you which of your connections (if any) are connected to someone you would like to meet. Often these are hidden pathways you would not know about otherwise. Quite often I will come across someone’s profile and see I share five connections with that person, all of which are a complete surprise to me.

The second is finding alternate paths, if the first one you try doesn’t work. No pathway to the VP of Manufacturing? Ah, look, there is a pathway to the Director of Quality, or the Supply Chain VP or a key Product Manager, all of whom could lead you to the VP of Manufacturing.

And perhaps most important of all, LinkedIn can show you the times – and they are more the rule than the exception – when LinkedIn is not the best way to approach a person and you’re better off finding another means like email.

Using LinkedIn to unlock the doors

Using LinkedIn you can often find the keys to unlock the doors. LinkedIn can be a treasure trove of information that you can use in outreach and to seed initial conversations with people you reach out to. Between their profiles, their activity, and their company pages you can find information that will often surprise the person you are messaging. Nothing elicits a response more than someone asking themselves, “How the heck does he know that?”

There’s a lot more information available to you on LinkedIn than you may realize. Find that information and you can make better decisions in going after your prospects and leads.

The obligatory disclaimer: 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.