In my experience, it’s most effective to use both approaches at the same time. In this article, I will focus on the direct approach of messaging people you want to reach.
Step 1 – Your Target List
First, you need to know who you want to reach. Make a list of your top 20 people you want to talk to in the coming weeks. We start with 20 because this is about quality and not quantity and because it’s important to get into action-mode quickly to generate the first responses and results. It’s more fun if you see it’s working.
The 20 people on your list could be decision makers, so the people who actually make the decision, or influencers, people who are influencing the decision makers. Because we only start with 20, make sure you don’t just pick the first people that show up in your search. Pick the 20 people who could “make your year”.
Step 2 – Initial Connection
At this step, these people will likely hear from you for the first time. So it’s important that you position yourself in the right light from the very beginning. First impressions matter. At the same time, you do have more than only one chance.
The easiest way to connect is to send a connection request. There, you can mention somebody you have in common. Or something that sparked your interest on their profile. Or simply say directly what you want to talk about with them.
Here’s a connection request I sent to a Fortune 500 CIO that was very specific about what I wanted to talk about.
There is no right or wrong answer in what to do. The most important thing is that you put in enough care. Care to understand them, care to research them, care to say why you want to talk to them. Some people won’t accept your connection request because it did not resonate or because they simply don’t pay too much attention to who connects with them. In this case, you need to raise awareness through other ways.
One way is to review their posts, articles and comments on LinkedIn and jump into the conversation there. Comment on these activities or re-share a post they shared and tag them.
Another way is to find an interview they have done, a talk they gave or some news about them. Pick that piece of content and share it as a post on LinkedIn. Write a short text about why you are sharing it and tag the person in your update.
Step 3 – Call to Action
After you established a connection with them and maybe even have gotten an initial response, it’s time to call for action. Most likely, that would be to have a conversation.
Here’s an example message I sent to a CIO with a call to action for a conversation.
In my experience, it’s important to keep LinkedIn messages relatively short. This is not an email environment. LinkedIn is more informal and personal.
Experiment with different calls to action. The one above is a soft approach. I’m simply asking if the person would be interested to talk, not directly if they want to talk of if we can schedule a call for next week.
I’ve tested soft approaches, hard approaches and everything in between. Different approaches for different people. Match it to your own style. Plus match it to what somebody’s profile reflects. If they write very direct on their profile, mirror that. If they write in softer terms, mirror that.
Step 4 – Follow Up
This is where most people fail. If you leave it at the first message with your call to action, you won’t get a response from most people.
People are busy. They get flooded with messages. They don’t check messages every day. They have other work to do than to respond to you.
I have a general rule that I follow up with people at least 3 times on LinkedIn. After that, I assume they are not interested at the moment or too busy right now. However, that doesn’t mean I let them off the hook. I use other ways to engage them, some more passive, some more active.
If they are active on LinkedIn, you can easily engage with their posts, comments and shares. Just check their profile once a week for what’s new and jump into the conversations.
If they are not sharing anything on LinkedIn, there is always the option of email. After you connected with them, you can see most people’s email address. Or you can find their email address through other means like calling the switchboard of the company or checking public records.
Daniel is the World’s Most Caring Headhunter. He’s also the Founder of LeadersBridge.org, Switzerland’s leading cross-industry network for Digital Leaders, to collaborate on partnership, career & board opportunities.
Over the past 15 years, Daniel has coached 250+ global business leaders on career transition and business growth, and recruited 100+ professionals, executives & board members.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
This website uses the following additional cookies:
(List the cookies that you are using on the website here.)
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!