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.

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/

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/