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. 

The 7 Uses For LinkedIn

(just pretend there’s a seventh candle. Thanks)


(…and how useful it actually is for each one)

Profile Reference Check

People typically come to your profile to answer these questions:

  • Just who is this person?
  • Are they who they say they are?

What it amounts to is people are looking at your profile as a kind of reference check. They are curious about you and they want to know more.

When someone comes to your profile the implied question they have is “What can this person do to help me?”

And there you go. Those are the questions your profile needs to answer:

  • What can you do for your ideal reader?
  • What benefits can you provide?
  • What questions are you uniquely qualified to answer?

LinkedIn works really well for this, but most LinkedIn users don’t work their profiles really well. They have skinny one line descriptions of current and past job descriptions. They don’t bother with the “About section” at all. They have no articles or featured content in their profiles. They neglect especially the Skills and Recommendations sections. A LinkedIn  profile can be a personal showcase that is open 24/7. It takes some effort to set up, but then it just takes a little maintenance to keep it up to date.

Increased Reach

You can use LinkedIn for increasing your Reach, that is the number of people who are aware of you, but it is not easy. You have two things working against you when you want to use LinkedIn to increase your reach:

  • The first is the LinkedIn algorithm. Most people see the algorithm putting their content in front of new people and think that is good. And it is. But the quality of those people is suspect. Your connections and followers may for the most part fit nicely with your ideal reader or prospect demographic, but their connections and followers will likely start wandering away from being a good fit. And oddly, the more LinkedIn spreads your post out there, the less likely those new people fit.
  • The second fact is that you are competing with millions of other people and companies vying for attention on LinkedIn. A search on Sales Navigator reveals that 24 million people posted on LinkedIn in the past thirty days. That’s a million people every day, and that does not count any of those people posting more than twice in the past 30 days, and that does not count company page posts, of which there are something like 60 million company pages.

Using LinkedIn for reach gets tougher all the time. I am starting to work with some of my clients on using LinkedIn advertising if they want increased reach, because it is the only way of ensuring their message gets put in front of exactly who they want to get it in front of.

Increased Credibility

On the other hand, LinkedIn is awesome for increasing credibility. You can call it thought leadership, which is trendy, or consideration, which is what LinkedIn calls it in their advertising context, but regardless of the label, LinkedIn is really good for it.

However, some ways are better than others. I recommend writing articles or newsletters if you want credibility. There are three reasons for this:

  • They can be inserted as feature articles and prominently displayed on your profile
  • They are saved long term by LinkedIn. I have articles that are over six years old that are still on LinkedIn
  • They get indexed by Google. People searching Google can be directed to your article. I know this happens because it has happened to me tens of thousands of times.

These days, prospective customers do a lot of research. They identify who the players are for their requirements, and they set about doing the preliminary parsing by themselves. They will often come up with a small group of finalists before they ever contact any of those finalists. LinkedIn is a great way of establishing your credibility and making the list of people or companies that should be considered.

Finding People and Companies

LinkedIn is outstanding for searching and there are two reasons for this. The first is because LinkedIn is a database that updates itself. When someone gets promoted, they change their LinkedIn profile. When someone changes jobs, they change their LinkedIn profile. Heck, when someone loses their job, they change their LinkedIn profile.

So LinkedIn is the most up to date database of info there is.

Secondly, LinkedIn has the tools to search that database. You can look for specific companies, or within industries, or at different company sizes. You can search by geography. You can look for people via those parameters plus function (like purchasing for example), seniority and specific job titles. And you can search using any combination of these filters that you want.

I used to say to one client that with LinkedIn search you can have “total market knowledge”. You can find everyone. All it takes is a little imagination.

However, to get maximum utility out of using LinkedIn Search, I suggest you consider getting Sales Navigator. The additional filters, search results, and saving abilities make it worth the money.

You Can Be Found

This is another aspect of LinkedIn that needs a big asterisk. Yes, you can be found on LinkedIn. And every week LinkedIn sends us a notification for how many searches we appeared in that week. But there is a world of difference between being “found” in a  LinkedIn search and having LinkedIn display your name prominently in those search results.

If you are an American, and I perform a LinkedIn search and specify the United States, one hundred and eighty-nine million people show up in the results. You are one of them. But what are the odds of me actually “finding” you in those results?

The biggest factor in where you appear in search results is your relevance to the searcher, that is how connected to them on LinkedIn you are. When you get a lot of results in a search, LinkedIn will usually list them in rough order of how connected you are – first level connections first, second level second and so on. The bigger your LinkedIn network, the more likely you are a first level connection, or more likely, a second level connection to the searcher.

The bottom line though is that appearing in search results if a pretty hit and miss proposition.

Research For Both People And Companies

There is a wealth of information available to us on LinkedIn. We just need to find it, and in some cases interpret it.

For example, on a linkedIn profile we can find:

  • Current experience section for responsibilities and accomplishments
  • Previous experience to get an idea of their career path
  • Their “About” section can show how they see their career progression themselves
  • Recommendations given and received.
  • What their skills reflect (sometimes the order someone puts their skills in can tell you a lot)
  • The companies and people they are following and the groups they belong to.
  • Their recent activity (if they have any) on LinkedIn. Is he or she  posting? How often? What topics? Are they interacting with other people’s or company’s posts?

Now if I we are looking at a company:

  • Examine the company insights LinkedIn provides very carefully (you do need a premium subscription for this). Hiring trends, headcount, and turnover by department all give clues as to how the company is doing. A company growing at 20% a year is very different from one that has had headcount go down by 20% in the past year.
  • This is an opportunity to pull a list of company employees and look for active users in all parts of the company. You can often find people who are active LinkedIn users where you normally wouldn’t expect them (this will be important when we want to contact people at the company in question).
  • Lastly I will look to see if we have any connections who might know people at this company. I look to see if there are any company employees with a “2nd” beside their name.

Using LinkedIn For Direct First Contact

LinkedIn can be the absolute best method to contact prospects in preliminary outreach. Sometimes…

That’s because at its core, LinkedIn is a database, not “the social network for professionals”. Out of 900 million members, maybe ten percent of them log in to LinkedIn at once a week or more often. So if we send an outreach message or connection request to a prospect, odds are roughly one in ten that that person will have an opportunity to see it in the next week. The odds of us getting a response from users who come around less often are pretty low for two reasons:

  • when they finally do show up, say three months from now, they will have a pile of messages waiting for them. Good luck with yours getting any quality time with your traget.
  • The less often someone shows up, the less value they attach to LinkedIn and the less likely they are enthusiastic – and amenable – to receiving messages from strangers.

Now there are people who tend to use LinkedIn a lot – salespeople, marketers, human resources people, consultants and solo practitioners of all kinds. If these people are in your target demographic, you will likely do a lot better using LinkedIn to send outreach messages. And you can also use LinkedIn to make offers on your profile and generate sales leads.

But other professions will be worse than ten percent. I ran an ad for a client where the targets were engineers last summer and the results suggested that only a couple percent were showing up at least once a week.


LinkedIn is an excellent tool for search and research. It is outstanding for establishing or improving your credibility, and for providing an avenue to establish you have the answers to your ideal target’s questions via your profile.

LinkedIn is more hit and miss for increasing reach, being found, and for first outreach.

Set your expectations accordingly.

(* the two Sales Navigator Searches I mention were conducted Tuesday morning, May 16th, 2023.)

I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains one or 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. 

The Other Branding On LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn Actions

Most people think of branding on LinkedIn in terms of their LinkedIn Profile, but the other way you can showcase yourself on LinkedIn is through your actions. So let’s talk about what actions you can take on LinkedIn, which ones are worthwhile and which ones are perhaps not worth your time.

There are two broad types of actions we want to talk about here: Publishing and Engaging with others.


By publishing I mean publishing content in any form on LinkedIn, whether it be written, audio, video or events. While these vary in terms of how good they are for branding yourself, publishing is the primary proactive way in which you can express yourself on LinkedIn. It is the method which gives you complete control. The benefits are numerous:

  • Your content shows you understand your ideal reader’s problems
  • Your content shows that you have a track record helping people like your ideal reader with their problems
  • Ideally, your content shows the way you think
  • Some content – featured content, articles, and LinkedIn newsletters are examples – remain “attached” to your profile where people can find them. This represents an archive people can review
  • Content is searchable on LinkedIn
  • Some content – again, articles and LinkedIn newsletters are examples – are indexed and searchable on Google

If you are not publishing on LinkedIn – even just a little – you are missing out on a huge opportunity. I remember a prospective client proudly telling me years ago, “Our company is the best kept secret in the industry.” I replied, “Why would you want to be a secret?”

Engaging with others on LinkedIn

This comes in multiple forms, some of which are worthwhile, others that I think should be avoided.

Responding to people who engage with your content

Green light. Go. This is huge for multiple reasons. You want to show the people who comment on your posts or other content that you appreciate them. And it represents an opportunity to expand the discussion past your original content. It is also an opportunity to develop relationships with the people who comment. Some may become followers or connections. There is evidence that LinkedIn’s algorithms “see” such back and forth in the comment thread as proof of the relevance of your content, which results in LinkedIn showing it to more people.

Every one of these is a good reason to engage with the people who engage with you.

Commenting on other people’s content

For all the reasons I listed above, this is a good idea, but only under two circumstances. The first is if the person (or company) in question is one that you wish to develop a relationship with. The second is the case where you want to support a person or company for whatever reason.

The bottom line here? Get involved where you want a deeper business relationship with the other person. Don’t get involved with a stranger who you would be happy to remain a stranger.

Reacting to other people’s content

This includes Likes and all the LinkedIn emoji’s. Use them rarely – such as when you don’t have time to leave a comment – but avoid them where you can. Reactions are confetti, they are too easily thrown around. People don’t pay much attention to them. I know that when I post, I sometimes register how many Likes and other reactions I have received, but pretty well all of my effort is going into responding to the comments I have received.

Sharing other people’s content

Don’t bother. I have mentioned this in the past, but there is evidence that LinkedIn does not reward us for sharing other people’s content. LinkedIn might see this as a sign that the content is relevant and boost its distribution, but that is a nice bonus for the person who wrote the content; it does nothing for the person who shared it. LinkedIn says we should be sharing content, but their actions seem to indicate that sharing helps the writer, not the sharer.

Participation In LinkedIn Groups

Ha-ha. No. Don’t. With very rare – and I mean one in a hundred, maybe one in a thousand – exceptions, LinkedIn Groups have been a wasteland of spam and devoid of meaningful discussion for over five years now. LinkedIn Groups were once vibrant areas but now are places where people just “post and run.” Until we see positive steps from LinkedIn to fix Groups, this will likely remain the case.


A lot of your “active branding” on LinkedIn comes down to comments and publishing. Add value in both. Ideally you want to spur people to go to your profile and check you out. LinkedIn is largely not a social network, so you want to have content that people can review on their own time, whether they show up later today or four months from now.

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. 

Two Limitations To Recognize When Publishing Content On LinkedIn

Possible limitation for real estate values in this newighborhood.

While I am a proponent of publishing content on LinkedIn, that does not keep me from recognizing a couple key limitations and if you are going to publish on LinkedIn, you should take them into account too.

The first limitation is that for many publishers, a lot of your target audience just don’t use LinkedIn that much, and will never see your content

I ran a LinkedIn Ad for a client last summer and as Sherlock Holmes would say, the results were instructive. LinkedIn Ads provide some pretty awesome filters for targeting ads – many of the same filters that are in Sales Navigator. My client was going after engineers and we were able to target engineers that were in specific geographies, that worked in specific industries and in specific sized companies.

The Ad was successful – it ran for almost exactly one month, and was shown to the people in our target demographic 38,500 times. But while the ad was successful for my client, I found a little more digging into the numbers revealed a couple nuggets that I found disconcerting

Our target demographic, as defined when I set up the Ad, was 82,000 possible LinkedIn users. The Ad wound up being seen by 38,500 of those people over the course of the month it ran. But…only 11,500 unique people saw the Ad, meaning that among those people, they saw it an average of a little over three times each.

I drew a couple important inferences from these figures. The first is that among the target audience only 11,500 out of 82,000 logged into LinkedIn over the course of the month that we ran the Ad. That’s almost exactly 14%. So my general conclusion would be only one in seven engineers log in to LinkedIn every month. I realize that this is only one sample from one industry and that there were other filters in play, but even if this result is a little skewed, what’s the best case scenario, one in six, or one in five? And it could just as easily skew the other way: maybe we were lucky and went after a really “active” subset of engineers!

That’s my first observation and one that is crucial that we keep in mind when we publish. People may like to call LinkedIn the “professional social network” and LinkedIn of course does nothing to dissuade people from calling it that, but at least in this demographic, it isn’t that social at all.

My second observation came from thinking about those 11,500 individuals that did show up and their behavior. I know that they showed up 36,500 times over the course of the month, or on average every ten days or so. Trying to figure out how many of the 11,500 show up at least every two weeks or weekly or more often than that would be complete conjecture, but I want you to take away one key thought here: thinking that very many of your target demographic are going to see any single post or video that you publish on LinkedIn is a very poor assumption to build your strategy on.

Okay, so this got me thinking, this applies to engineers, how can I see how engineers compare to other work functions, like salespeople, or purchasing, or solo professionals? Well, I could spend a pile of money on Ads to see how the results for different groups and professions stack up against engineers, but my money pile being somewhat depleted, I can use a filter on Sales Navigator to get a rough comparison by seeing how often these groups of people publish content on LinkedIn. So that’s what I did.

When I looked at how many people published content on LinkedIn over the past thirty days, then divided that number by the total number of people saying they did that job on LinkedIn, here are my results:

Consulting: 14%

Marketing: 7%

Solo Practitioners: 7%

Business Development: 6%

Sales: 5%

Purchasing: 4%

Education: 3%

Engineering: 3%

Operations: 2-3%

Remember that I am using “posted on LinkedIn in the last 30 days” as a proxy for “active on LinkedIn in the last 30 days”. While speculative, I think this shows which professions are more active on Linkedin relative to each other.

So, I established some backup to my speculation that as a social network, LinkedIn isn’t that social, but then I did a little work using the subscribers to my LinkedIn Newsletter and came up with some info to back up this idea:

Remember that your reach on LinkedIn is pretty unstructured.

I usually review my new LinkedIn newsletter subscribers every week, and here are the results from a few weeks ago:

54 people signed up

16 people unsubscribed

A note of explanation: you can see your subscriber list by clicking on your number of subscribers. Your subscribers are listed chronologically by the latest sign ups. Every week I note my total number of subscribers and my latest three subscribers. The following week, I note my new subscriber number giving me the net change, then count the new subscribers by scrolling through my subscriber list until I reach the three people who were at the top of the list last week. This may sound complicated but you do the best you can with what LinkedIn gives you, and doing this every week actually takes less time than it does to explain it here.

And as far as unsubscribers are concerned, it happens. As long as more people like my content than lose interest, I am fine with that.

Anyway, my new subscribers give me a good idea of the quality of my reach on LinkedIn, as I can see who those people are and what they do. So I reviewed the people who signed up over the two weeks prior, looking for people who fit in my preferred customer demographic.

I found three. Three out of fifty-four. Six percent.

And actually, this fits with what I have figured previously. I have 25,000 subscribers for my LinkedIn newsletter, but really only six percent, or 1500 people, fall within my target demographic. The key for me is not losing focus on who I am writing for: the 1500, not the 25,000.

But my own example shows how unstructured the reach is on LinkedIn. When you publish something on LinkedIn, LinkedIn puts it in front of your connections and followers, and further distribution comes from their networks. To an extent you can control the makeup of your connections, but you can’t control who your followers are, and you can’t control the makeup of either your connections’ or followers’ networks. So don’t fall in love with your raw numbers.

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. 

Your LinkedIn Content May Be Working better Than You Think It Is


Quick one today:

If you are a person or a company that publishes regularly on LinkedIn, and your content is good, it is quite possible that you are being more successful with it than you think you are. Let me pull apart those first two bits to explain how they can and often do cause the third.

These are the two ingredients you need: publish regularly and publish on topics your customers want to know more about. Not what you want them to know more about – how fabulous you are – but what they want to know more about. And you need to publish these pieces of content regularly. This is how you build a following of regular readers.

Now here’s the “more successful than you think” bit: quite often, those regular readers lurk and do not reveal themselves. But when they do, they have often made up their minds that they want to work with you, or that you are one of the few options under consideration. This happens to me every week. I will receive an email, or a message on LinkedIn, and they all say more or less the same thing: “I have been reading your content regularly for over a year now, and I think you could help us.” In almost every case, this will be a person that I had no clue was following me, or subscribed to my LinkedIn newsletter. They had never connected with me, never commented on my content, never messaged me on LinkedIn or emailed me. This first message from them came completely out of the blue, and they emerged out of the blue pretty well sold on working with me.

And it’s not just me. I have seen this occur with individuals and with companies. These people have developed fans, completely unknown to them, but these are people where the content they have read has convinced them that the writer understands their problem and has demonstrated through their writing that they can help solve that problem.

If you are regularly publishing solid customer focused content on LinkedIn you likely have some of these fans yourself, and they will reveal themselves in their own good time. So my suggestion today is: don’t stop publishing now.

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. 

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) 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:

Why I Write A LinkedIn Newsletter Instead Of Posting

Okay, maybe LinkedIn doesn’t offer this many options, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.

LinkedIn is quick to feature the number of views your content has received, regardless of what type of content you have such as posts or videos.  So I thought we could talk about views and their value.

Views are really what the advertising industry refers to as impressions. Using an example from the ad industry actually illustrates this idea really well. A company, say Budweiser, wants to advertise Bud Lite. They will contact a television network in order to advertise on their football broadcasts. The television network will tell Budweiser that their 1pm football game reaches ten million people. If Budweiser puts an ad on that broadcast, the ad is said to have had ten million impressions. Now, of those ten million people, how many of them actually saw the ad? Think of yourself when you watch broadcast TV. In an hour, you may be shown fifteen or twenty ads. How many of them did you actually watch? This is why they are called impressions. The number of impressions is the number of people who could have seen the Bud Lite commercial.

I would also point out here that this helps to explain why we see the same commercials over and over again. The advertising companies want to make sure that at some point we see their commercial, and the only way to guarantee that is through repetition.

So how does this apply to our content on LinkedIn?

When we publish on LinkedIn, LinkedIn puts our content in the feeds of other LinkedIn users. This is the content that you see on your LinkedIn homepage, and the content in your feed as you scroll down. If you scroll down past fifteen posts, LinkedIn will register you as having “viewed” those fifteen posts and compile those views for reporting back to the authors.

The bottom line is a view means someone had the opportunity to see your post in their feed. It does not mean they opened it, or that they read it. Seeing the number of views makes us think that number of people read our post. They may have.

So what can we do about this?

LinkedIn Newsletters.

For my money, the best type of content on LinkedIn is a LinkedIn newsletter.

Newsletters get the same distribution as regular posts – that is put in the feeds of some LinkedIn members – plus there are three good additional reasons I like Newsletters:

1) Guaranteed delivery. LinkedIn notifies – not just puts in your feed but notifies – your subscribers that a new issue is available. And this includes email notifications. If you are a subscriber to this newsletter, you (should have!) received a notification from LinkedIn.

2) You can see who has subscribed to your Newsletter. I will confess it’s not easy – it’s actually pretty awkward – but it can be done.

3) You can see how many clicks and opens you got for each issue. This is the biggie, and the big advantage over regular posts. As I like to say, a view means someone has the opportunity to see and read your content, but a click signals their intent to open and read your content. I would much rather have a hundred clicks than a hundred views.

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.

Deciding If That Person Asking You To Connect On LinkedIn Is Real

Is Anna a real person? 

Today, we will look in depth at the profile of Anna Li, someone who invited me to connect in late October. As you can probably guess, this is not going to end well. My goal here is to show you what I look at and look for when I see someone’s LinkedIn profile.

Let’s have a look at her profile and look for clues as to whether Anna is a real person, or a fake profile. 

First, what can we see at a glance from the headline section of her profile? 

Actually, just about everything here makes me question Anna immediately.

18 connections? You don’t have more colleagues, ex-colleagues and classmates / alumni than that? 

“Manager” is a pretty weak title

And Anna has no location. 

Okay, let’s have a look at her “About” section.

Anna says she is a senior market development manager. At best – and giving Anna the benefit of the doubt for being a non-native English speaker, I find it highly unusual that L’Oreal would not approve a senior marketing person buying cosmetics for research purposes. Isn’t that kind of what she is supposed to do? 

Her second “About” paragraph is a delight. Anna conducts market research via “rummaging” through social media messages. This has to be the first time I have seen anyone use the word “rummage” on LinkedIn. Apparently these social media messages unveil for Anna the needs that customers have that the customers are not aware they have. At this point, Anna is beginning to scare me. Even if she is real I don’t want to send her messages over LinkedIn as she might use them as part of some Vulcan mind meld thing. 

Okay what about work experience. I won’t show all three of her work experience sections for L’Oreal, but here is the first one: 

Marketing Department Research Manager

L’Oréal · Permanent

Apr 2017 – Present · 5 yrs 7 mos


  • Formulate an annual marketing goal plan, establish and improve marketing information collection, processing, communication and confidentiality systems, investigate consumer buying psychology and behavior, and collect, sort and analyze the performance, price, and promotional methods of competing brand products , Analyze the advertising strategies and competitive methods of competing brands, make sales forecasts, propose future market analysis, development directions and plans, and formulate product planning strategies;

Two points here: Hands up everybody who thinks this looks like this was badly cut and pasted in from somewhere else. It sure doesn’t sound like the same Anna who wrote that About section. Plus, this paragraph consists of two very long sentences, one of which ends in a comma and the other ends in a semi-colon. 

The second point is that while this Experience section outlines Anna’s responsibilities, it says nothing about her accomplishments at all. It’s odd that she has a work experience section that doesn’t talk about the actual experience at all. 

And now, let’s review her schooling. Anna says she has a Masters degree from the University of Toronto

A master’s degree, Industrial and commercial management

Jul 2010 – Jul 2014

Grade: Excellent academic performance

  • Activities and societies: Good performance in school, active participation in health sports, volleyball, golf, swimming.
    • My name is Yaman and I am studying for a master’s degree at the University of Victoria. I went to Victoria University through the relationship between my parents and my uncle to go to Victoria University to go through the formalities for studying abroad. During my studies at Victoria University, I felt that my day-to-day study life was quite equal. a lot. Victoria University is very beautiful and huge. Studying and living in school broadened my horizons and made many friends. When people ask me about my experience studying at Victoria University, I will say that living abroad has really grown me up. , become a more perfect me.

This whole section is just a little weird. Academic performance “outstanding” ? And who is Yaman? And why is Yaman talking in the present tense about events of ten years ago? And the hideous English is jarring. Wouldn’t you think that four years in Toronto would result in better English skills? 

Verdict: 99% probability that this is a fake LinkedIn profile. And I do not connect with people who are most likely not people. 

In closing, let me point out that there isn’t any single detail that tells me Anna is a fake. There is even an outside chance that she isn’t fake, that she is just someone whose attention to detail would make me very afraid of L’Oreal’s market research department. But taken in its entirety, all these little things add up, and her story just doesn’t sound right. And that is what you should take away from today’s newsletter:  sometimes there isn’t an obvious tell, but the profile just doesn’t seem right somehow. That’s your gut instinct, and you should probably follow it. 







Why Do My View Counts Go Down? 

Writing posts in the old days took longer too.

A lot of people are seeing their view counts for posting go down in the past year.  I have three possible reasons for this. 

Changes to the algorithms

Linkedin is constantly tweaking the algos to fine tune them, but the big factor here is that every time LinkedIn comes up with a new content related feature, that feature tends to get its day in the sun and those new types of content will appear more prominently in our feeds. Think of all the new content related features in the past two years – all the video options, audio features, company page post features, events, the list goes on and on. The poster child for this was Polls a couple years ago. They were everywhere. And if the LinkedIn algos are going to prefer putting a Poll at the top of people’s feeds, our regular old post is getting bumped. Not getting bumped every time, but often enough to make a difference. 

More competition

Creator Mode has certainly been a boon…for LinkedIn. Courtesy of Creator Mode and LinkedIn’s push for members to create content, there is just a lot more content to compete against. How much more? Well, let’s have a look and see.

There is a search filter I  can use on Sales Navigator called “posted on LinkedIn 30 days”. It brings up a list of everyone who has posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days. I used it last February to illustrate a point in a webinar I ran and the number of people posting in the past 30 days at that point was 17 million. I ran the filter again in January and LinkedIn told me that over 20 million people had posted in the past thirty days. That’s over 17% more people posting less than a year later.

That doesn’t include company page posts, which are also competing with our posts to be seen. And if each of those people posted more than once, that 20 million figure may mean 40 or 50 million or more individual posts. I just checked and I have around 200 connections who post at least once a day and one connection who posted an unbelievable 126 times in the past week.

Let’s look at it another way. If each of those 20 million people only posts once a month, that is still one million posts every business day.

Subscriptions & Notifications

Subscriptions and notifications are two sides to the same coin. You can subscribe to LinkedIn Newsletters, in which case LinkedIn will notify you when a new issue is published. You can also click the little notification bell on someone’s profile, which will result in you being notified about that person’s posts. 

LinkedIn advertises that you will absolutely be notified in both of these cases, implying that if you subscribe or hit the notification bell you will not miss out on anything from the person whose content you want to see. There is some evidence that this is not necessarily the case, as I have had a few subscribers to my newsletter tell me that they are not being notified, and the little bell on one person’s profile advertised if I clicked I would only see their “top posts”, whatever that means. 

The upshot here is that if I am allocating fifteen minutes today to reading content on LinkedIn, I am first going to go and look at whatever notifications I have received for newsletters or people’s content I want to be notified about, and then if I have time, I will go and see what is being offered in my feed. 

Subscriptions and notifications are effectively setting up a two tiered content system on Linkedin, one designed around what you have indicated you want, and one designed around LinkedIn’s guesses as to what you want. Now, the main feed is not going away or being de-emphasized anytime soon, as we must not forget that is where LinkedIn’s advertisers are. I would not be surprised if LinkedIn is trying to figure out a way to get those newsletter and posts we asked to be notified about folded back into the main feed somehow. If my main feed had a mix of newsletters, posts I asked to be notified about, ads or sponsored content, and some speculative “maybe he will like this” stuff from the algorithm, that would make for pretty good tradeoff of what I would like to see – relevant content – and what LinkedIn wants me to see – advertising and sponsored content. 

So in the face of these factors, what can we do to get our content seen? Plain and simple, think less about the things you can’t control – what LinkedIn does and what other people do – and think more about what you can control: the quality of the content you are putting out yourself. Stay laser focused on what your ideal reader or ideal prospect wants to know that they don’t know now. What information will they find useful? What information will help them make better decisions? 

One other aspect worth mentioning is the long tail for content on LinkedIn, particularly articles and LinkedIn newsletters. These get saved to your profile and have a long shelf life. They get indexed by Google. Your ideal prospect can have the opportunity to find you via this content long after you have published it. I still get people commenting on articles I published on LinkedIn in 2016. 


Why I Am (Finally) Hopping On The LinkedIn Creator Mode Bandwagon

(and it took almost two years to get here)

LinkedIn Creator Mode was announced back in April 2021, and rolled out over the following months. LinkedIn says its intent is to allow you to grow your “reach and influence on LinkedIn.” I have written a couple reviews on Creator Mode as LinkedIn has adjusted it and added more features, and I have continued to be ambivalent about it until now.

I will review what I consider the seven main aspects of Creator Mode here, and then talk about the eighth aspect that was announced – quietly – in early November that has made me change my mind about it.

In Creator Mode, “Connect” changes to “Follow”

By default, the “Connect” button on your profile changes to a “Follow” button. People can still connect with you, but the Connect button is now hidden in a drop down menu next to the Follow button. Maybe to prompt us to do this LinkedIn says your number of followers will now be displayed prominently underneath your Profile headline. Note that this is a big ego boost if you already have lots of followers and want even more, but won’t it look a little pathetic if you are just starting out and only have a couple hundred followers?

Neat trick: if you have Creator mode on and someone invites you to connect, they are automatically made a follower. Even if you decline their invite to connect they remain a follower. They can unfollow you if they decide to – but most people won’t realize that they are automatically following you, or won’t know how to unfollow someone. Very sneaky.

You can display your expertise areas

You can display topics you talk about in your Profile Introduction section as hashtags. Hashtags are searchable on Linkedin. This is one search method that is under utilized by users on both sides of the search equation on LinkedIn. This is a nice feature and will increase in importance if hashtag use ever does really catch on with LinkedIn users.

Embedded links

While we are in your Introduction section, you can add a link here to drive people to your website, an Event sign up page, or specific content. I could see this being handy, but one would need to be careful in using it. I think most folks would use this as a generic “visit my website” suggestion and I have never been a fan of the “Invite people into the store to browse around” school of thought. If there is a specific landing page that people are being sent to, I like this idea. A lot.

Musical chairs with Profile sections

LinkedIn says they will more prominently move your content, both your Featured and Activity sections, to be seen more easily by your visitors. This sounds nice, but another way of putting it would be “we moved your About section down below your Activity.” You know, the About section you just put those hashtags and that URL in. Well, I suppose the idea here after all is highlighting all that content you are creating, but do you really need to promote this?

You could be featured!

“You become eligible to be featured as a suggested creator to follow so potential followers can discover you and your content across LinkedIn.” From what I can see, every week LinkedIn mentions a half dozen Creators to follow. I have seen multiple articles, one saying five million people have Creator Mode turned on, another saying ten million people did – back in January 2022. With five or six Creators being featured each week out of millions, it is going to take a while before they get around to you or me. These are lottery odds.

Early access to Creator tools

You can get access to Creator tools. However, the only tools appear to LinkedIn Live, LinkedIn Newsletters, and Audio Events (the long awaited “Clubhouse killer”). This is very sneaky by LinkedIn. LinkedIn is on record as saying that these tools are being rolled out over time to everyone, so what they are implying here is that being a Creator will allow you to move up in the line. That being said, if you were an early adopter of Clubhouse or love running Live Events, this feature makes Creator mode a must for you.

Creator Analytics

LinkedIn has added Creator Analytics to show how your posts are doing over time.  Analytics work on posts, articles, videos, events, and polls. It measures impressions and engagement. Analytics are still being rolled out. I have three issues here.

The first is lumping all my content together. Each of these different types of content is measured differently by LinkedIn. For example LinkedIn counts a post impression when it appears in your feed. An article impression is counted when you click to open the article. A video impression happens when three seconds of the video rolls by on your screen. One impression is not like another. If you mix and use different types of content, your graphs and results are going to take some interpretation.

The second issue is with your engagement. LinkedIn tallies the engagement with your content – the total number of your reactions, comments and shares is shown. But we know that LinkedIn rewards comments on posts by further distributing those posts to more users. So comments are much more important, but they get lumped in with Likes, and reactions, and shares.

Lastly, LinkedIn will show you the same vague analytics you get from most content published on LinkedIn –  breakdown by Job Title, Industry, Seniority, Location, or Company Size.

Sorry to say this but the analytics area is pretty lame on LinkedIn, and remains that way in Creator mode.

The Algo Will Now Treat Your Followers Like Connections

New, and in my opinion, the tipping point: the LinkedIn algorithms will treat your followers like they are connections. This appeared in LinkedIn Help in early November:

“Similar to what happens when you follow Top Voices, your followers will receive your posts, articles, and shares in their LinkedIn homepage feed. Members don’t have to be connected to you to follow you and receive these updates.”

Up until now, LinkedIn has always based distribution of your content to a small number of your connections, and how those connections responded and engaged with your content drove further distribution to more people. LinkedIn tells us what we see featured prominently in our feeds is largely based on our Connection Strength Score, which is based on the interactions we have on LinkedIn with our various connections. My problem with creating more followers has always been that to my knowledge, there is no “Follower Strength Score.” And how would you measure it?

This is the prime argument I always had about Creator Mode. Why would I try and promote a larger number of followers – instead of connections – when LinkedIn does not indicate that it will treat those followers in the same way as my connections? But now LinkedIn says they will. This changes everything. I have around five thousand connections and five thousand followers. If I turn Creator Mode on, I now have effectively doubled my audience as LinkedIn says those followers will have a shot as seeing my content. Creator Mode has gone from being a questionable feature to what I think of as a reasonable one. It is worth the odd aspects to get the good aspects. I’m in. I will post again on this a few months down the line and let you know what impact it has had.

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. 

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two articles like today’s, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page:

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.