Cold Calling on LinkedIn? Offer Up A Strong Handshake


How would you feel if you walked into a meeting, and the person introducing himself for the first time offered you a floppy handshake? Maybe he doesn’t even look you in the eyes…That’s how I feel when someone that I don’t know sends me the default LinkedIn invite. I feel even more irritated when someone I don’t know sends me a default invite on a more personal social network like Facebook or Foursquare – networks where I share pictures of my family and my physical location.Yes, social networks have increased the size and efficiency of our personal and professional networks. But, don’t be mistaken: they haven’t changed the best practices of networking. In the end, you’re still building and managing relationships with real people. Effort and attention still mean a lot; there’s no room for laziness in social media. So, here is a quick guide to introducing yourself on LinkedIn.

Get InMail

First of all, instead of asking someone to join your network without them knowing anything about you or having had any experience with which to judge you (and, they are judging), send them an InMail. InMail is LinkedIn’s in-network email. It allows you to send messages to people you are not connected with. This will give you more characters to write a more complete introduction.

Grab Their Attention

Subject line matters. Identify the 1-3 main points you want to make and write them in the subject line (limit to about 50 characters). If you’re selling a product/service, I suggest including the name of your company as one of the points in the subject line.

Make It Short and Sweet

People are busy. They have a short attention spans. So, get to the point and make it easy for them to understand what you want and whether or not they’re interested. I like to limit my introductory emails/InMails to 3 paragraphs and under 10 sentences.

  • 1st Paragraph – Introduce yourself. Who are you? From what company? (don’t assume people will look at your profile to figure it out)
  • 2nd Paragraph – Why are you contacting them? Would you like to discuss a potential partnership? Have a product/service that they might find useful? Interested in their career and would like a 10 min call for advice?
  • 3rd Paragraph – End with a “yes”/”no” question (i.e. a call to action).

I love emails where all I have to answer is “yes” or “no”. Unfortunately, I rarely get them, but I do try my best to write them.

If You’re Using a A Basic LinkedIn Account and Don’t Want to Pay for InMail

Then, you have 300 characters (or about 3 sentences) to make your introduction. I suggest following an abbreviated version of the outline above.

  • 1st sentence – Introduce yourself
  • 2nd sentence – Why are you contacting them?
  • 3rd Sentence – Ask to add them to your network on LinkedIn

If they accept, then you can follow up directly with an email or call.

Have you received or made cold calls on LinkedIn? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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