LinkedIn was created as a place for networking and information sharing, but is quickly becoming an important aspect of cold outreach and sales.

Here, we outline how to turn LinkedIn into a valuable a sales tool, and some tactics for responding to prospects after your initial engagement.

Table of Contents

  1. Strategy (targeting, connection requests, outreach messages)
  2. Sample scripts and results
  3. Conclusion


More personalized than pay per click advertising and less "salesy" than phone or email, LinkedIn can either the most effective or the trickiest of all your sales channels.

This guide to techniques and best practices is designed around cold outreach campaigns with the purpose of generating a response that eventually leads to a meeting.


Whether you have a spreadsheet of leads you'd like to make contact with, use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, or outsource to a lead generation service, step one to cold outreach is clearly identifying who you are going after and what your message is.

Having something highly relevant to offer or share with each lead that you reach out to is the key to generating responses. More data points like vertical, funding stage, and position seniority that you have, means more specific messaging, which means more successful campaigns.

If possible, it's always better to send less to a small, targeted group, than to try to generate the same results by sending more to a random/vague list (spray and pray).

Connection requests

We recommend approaching your leads by sending connection requests. This accomplishes two things in one: grows your existing network and allows you to send a personalized message to each lead. Even if they connect but don't respond, they will still be exposed to you or your company's LinkedIn activity from then on (press releases, blog posts, etc.).

You'll need to start slow with your outreach and ramp up, around 25 per day to begin. If you have too many people marking "I don't know them", which is the equivalent of the spam button for LinkedIn, you may get your account suspended.

Again, the best way to combat this is to reach out to high quality leads with customized, relevant text. You don't want to blindly send requests and you don't want to sound like a robot. Our team develops hyper-targeted data signals based on buyer behavior in order to deliver the most relevant copy.

Outreach messages

The initial connection request should be short and sweet (max 300 characters) and 100% unique for each lead. You can accomplish this by swapping out words like {FirstName}, {Company} and {Industry} in each message.

Mentioning a recent article you wrote about the lead's industry or a project you're doing with a similar company are two great ice breakers. It's key that the lead understands you have something of value to share, and aren't trying to hard sell them immediately.

As a benchmark, here is a message that generated a 15% response rate, with 83% of responders interested in hearing more.

{FirstName}, always looking to connect with veteran founders.

We just finished helping a startup in your space validate their new product and go-to-market ideas.

If you're interested, I'd love to share some takeaways that might be relevant to {Company}.

Sample scripts and results

Accepted Connection Request

You'll want to send a message to anyone who accepts your request, even if they don’t actually respond back to your original note. Asking an open-ended follow up question or providing more information about why you wanted to connect in the first place are both good tactics here.

Even if you don't generate a response, you have succeeded in growing your circle and can now "nurture" this prospect by sharing company updates, articles you write, etc. with your LinkedIn network (win win).

Response #1
Hi {FirstName}, thanks for connecting! It looks like you’ve been in your role at {Company} for a few months now. I'm curious if you have any big marketing initiatives you're hoping to kick off in the next 30 days?

Response #2
Hi {FirstName}, great to connect! I really admire the way you're shaking up the e-commerce space. I'm curious if you've ever considered incorporating AI technology into your customer's online shopping process?

Response #3

Hi {FirstName},
Thanks for connecting! I just saw that {Company}'s product was featured in the SF Chronicle. I've actually worked with a few other Google Ventures startups, and it would be great to share what's been successful for them in terms of virtual marketing lately. Would that be helpful?

Thanks for the Connection

A lead could respond with something like “it’s a pleasure connecting” or “it's nice to connect with you, let me know how I can help.” Next, dig up some more info on their company and ask them some pointed questions to help move the conversation along.

Response #1
Hi {FirstName}! We partner up with start ups in the {X} industry to help them solidify their strategy and de-risk their product/software dev.

I see you have a product in Beta right now. Would you be up for sharing more about the projects {Company} is working on?

Response #2
Thanks for the reply! It looks like you're growing your {data analytics} team, very cool! Curious if you have any challenges with {how much time your team spends scrubbing data instead of analyzing it}?

Asking for More Information

If a lead responds wanting to clarify what you do or asking for more information, it’s a good opportunity to share relevant content with them and ask them more questions about their business.

Internally, we view success as turning 30-40% of "interested" LinkedIn leads into actual meetings. This conversion rate is lower for LinkedIn outreach than for email outreach (where we shoot for ~50%) since less initial commitment is required from the lead. In other words, you will mostly likely have a higher response rate on LinkedIn than with email, but you may have more leads going radio silent on you if you push too hard for a phone call.

Response #1
Hi {FirstName}! Yes, we rely on Behavioral Science methods to help develop engaging customer journeys for B2B companies. Can I ask what areas of design you’re prioritizing right now? I'd be happy to share some specifics with you once I have a little bit more context.

Response #2
Hey {FirstName}, I love the parallels you're drawing between embracing technology and running a successful business in your bio.

We work heavily with CEOs to bring process and software to their back office. I actually just recorded a podcast interview with a client about how we modernized their accounting procedures.. would you be interested in that?

Want to Meet

Ideally, a lead will respond that they are interested in your product/service and want to meet right away. Here is a good time to ask for their phone number and/or email address. This formalizes the interaction and lets both parties know that you're intent on moving forward. Plus, if you're doing any sort of lead tracking (hopefully you are), having all the contact info better prepares you for follow ups.

Response #1
The {FirstName}, what you’re working on looks really exciting! Would you be open to hopping on a quick call this week? What's the best number to reach you at?

Response #2
Congrats on ______! Would you be open to a quick exploratory chat sometime next week? It would be great to grab your email so I can send you a calendar invite.

Not Ready

The next phase of cold outreach is keeping track of people who say "maybe later" and making sure to follow up with them at a later date.

Use your best judgement on whether a lead might appreciate a case study or relevant article as a follow up, or, depending on their phase in the buying cycle, might just need you to check in on their progress and ask if it's a better time.

Our sales team estimates that 1/5 people who initially say they aren't ready can be turned into meetings with a little follow up persistence.  

The {FirstName}, appreciate the response and understand that it's not the right time.

Would it be okay if I check in with you again next quarter? We'll be finishing up a design project for an {Industry} company and should have a few takeaways that might be relevant to {Company}.

Not a Good Fit

You won't always hit the nail on the head with your cold outreach, but if someone takes the time to read your message and respond, it's a good practice to send them a quick note. Sometimes just knowing there is a real person on the other side can be enough to turn the conservation around.

{FirstName}, thanks for getting back to me. Best of luck with your endeavors!


Now that we've scratched the surface...

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