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LinkedIn Cold Outreach Messages That Get Replies (+ Examples & Templates)

Matt Hlavacka
June 9th, 2022
linkedin tips

A cold LinkedIn outreach means you’re contacting people with whom you’ve never talked before, and establishing a rapport can be a daunting task.

But there is a right way to go about it and get those replies.

If you follow a few best practices, avoid the most common mistakes, and get inspiration from templates and examples that have proven to be successful, you’ll be able to make the connections you need.

Keep reading and you’ll find out everything you need to know about writing cold outreach messages and follow-ups that get replies on LinkedIn 👇

Why Send Cold Messages on LinkedIn?

Presenting your business, expertise, and products to a new audience who can offer you feedback will add a lot of value.

Some prospects might even become partners in reaching different goals.

The most common reasons for a cold outreach campaign are:

  • To promote the business
  • To increase sales leads
  • To recruit and expand your team

What’s more, connecting and having conversations with new people can open your eyes to a lot of new information on how to improve and scale every single part of your business.

Who do you contact in a cold outreach campaign?

You decide who you want to contact when creating your list of prospects. During a cold outreach, you should typically look at:

  • Connections you haven’t talked to before. You may have people in your feed that post content that is interesting and relevant to your business, yet you’ve never interacted with them. Reach out and start building a relationship.
  • 2nd degree connections. Start looking at who your first connections are interacting with, and send those people invitations to connect. It’s always easier to establish a connection if you have mutual acquaintances.
  • 3rd degree connections. Even without a direct link to them, your third degree connections (people connected to your 2nd degree connections) might unveil some great networking opportunities.
  • People in groups. Professional groups attrack like minded individuals with a lot in common. The connections you’re looking for might be in the very groups you follow.

When to Send a Cold Outreach Message on LinkedIn?

Do you want to extend your business network or get some more leads and insights into your products? Well, those are exactly the right moments for a cold outreach.

It’s not a matter of date and time.

Depending on industry, demographics, working hours, cultures, or even personal working styles of the people you approach, acceptance and reply rates for messages sent at different times will vary.

Note! If you’re looking for a specific time or day of the week for sending your LinkedIn messages, you won’t get a clear answer. Simply try to accommodate the working hours of your prospects.

There is no data that can pinpoint a day and hour when sending outreach messages results in improved reply rates. Since LinkedIn is a professional network, our advice is to just stick to people’s regular working hours, when they’re more likely to be online.

When do you follow up?

Just because someone hasn’t replied to a message, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested.

When people don’t reply, most times it’s because:

  • They didn’t read the message yet
  • They read your message, but put it on the back burner to answer at a later time
  • They read your message, but are unsure of its value
  • They’re simply not interested and didn’t get the chance to tell you

If you’re dealing with one of the first 3 scenarios, a follow up or two can help remind, clarify, and convince your prospect.

Tip! The key is to not spam people with too many follow-ups, sent almost one after another. Stick to 2 or 3 follow-ups, and schedule a day or two in-between them, just to give people time to think and answer first.

While a few follow-ups, sent over a few days is simply a nice reminder, suffocating and insisting messages every few hours can only annoy the recipient.

6 Tips on Writing the Best Messages and Follow-ups

Speaking of tips, here are a few best practicing for sending messages and follow-ups during a cold outreach on LinkedIn.

1. Be human and personalize your messages

The last thing you want to do is to send boring, impersonal bulk messages to everyone. Those standard copy-paste messages add no value, and don’t really show any trait of your personality.

Always have a human-to-human approach and a casual tone of voice. Write in your own style, and personalize each message you send for every person who will receive it.

Be funny, curious about the other person, and maybe even add a touch of flattery. People connect with people.

2. Find things you have in common

Why do you want to reach out to a certain person in particular? Be relatable.

Are you in the same field, have they published anything that you loved, or do you simply have a lot of the same professional connections? Let them know what you have in common and how that translates into opportunities for both of you.

3. Keep it short and clear

Be direct and on-point with your information. Noone has the time to read lengthy novels on LinkedIn, just for the sake of it.

Introduce yoursels and simply tell them how connecting with you is beneficial.

4. Make sure the message is relevant to them

You need to connect with the right audience: people who might be legitimately interested in your proposal, for valid reasons, and not just because you want them to be.

If what you’re offering is not relevant to their work and needs, why would they ever answer?

5. Present mutually beneficial proposals (give them a reason to reply)

LinkedIn relationships should not just be purely transactional.

Yes, your ultimate goal is probably to increase sales one way or another, but LinkedIn connections should be mutually beneficial, even if they don’t end in a direct sale.

Establish a relationship first, talk about the pro’s of a partnership, and offer people a reason to reply.

6. Follow up with another message

No answer straight away? No problem.

Give it a day or two and come back with a follow-up message to kindly remind them of your pitch.

Reiterate your initial message and include a few more details that can spark their interest even more.

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Outreach Messages

Now that you’ve gone through what you should do, take a look at a few mistakes that can kill your outreach efforts.

1. Don’t sound like a robot

This goes to the above tip of being human.

If your messages are too generic, have no sense of a personality, and could be easily sent to everyone in the world, the chances of getting replies are slim to none.

You need to put in the work and research the people you’re messaging, otherwise noone will bother researching your offer either.

2. Don’t ovesell

Your LinkedIn inbox is not an ad platform. There’s plenty of paid advertisement platforms out there to choose from, but this one is not one of them.

When people feel they’re just being sold something insistently, they lose interest.

To get a rapport with someone, you need to show them how you can help, and specific about it.

3. Don’t clickbait

This one should be a no-brainer: never offer more than you can deliver, just to get a reaction and a reply.

While a clickbait message might get you a reply, the relationship will soon fizzle out once people realize you’ve been misleading. You’ll just end up with leads that are not interested in becoming long-term customers and waste both yours and their time.

Clickbaits will kill your credibility. Be true to your company, product, and services.

4. Don’t spam

While outreach can be a numbers game, this does not mean you need to send hundreds and hundreds of messages per day.

In fact, LinkedIn frowns upon spamming people in messages and might strike or ban your account if you go over 100 invites per week.

5. Don’t follow up every 5 minutes

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t send countless messages per day to the same people either. Especially if you see they’re ignoring you.

Yes, you need’ll to follow up sometimes, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that.

Cold Outreach Message Limits on LinkedIn

As you’ve already seen, LinkedIn has quite a few limitations in place, to make sure people don’t resort to bad practices.

Your options and limits for cold outreach on LinkedIn differ depending on whether you have a free account or a paid plan.

LinkedIn limits on connection messages

If you have a free profile, but you still want to send messages to people who are not your active connections, the best way to go about it is to send connection requests and add a message to your invitation.

But keep in mind that the character limit for connection messages is 300 characters, and you can’t go over 100 invites per week.

On the other hand, if you’ve warmed up your account and maintain a healthy acceptance rate, that limit can increase a little more each week.

Once someone has accepted your invitation, you can then send them messages with without any limits.

LinkedIn limits on InMail messages

On the other hand, if you have purchased one of LinkedIn’s plans, you can send InMail messages to your prospects.

InMails are essentially LinkedIn’s version of email messages, following the same format of subject line (limited to 200 characters), and body (limited to 1900 chartacters).

Based on your subscription plan, you’ll be able to send 3, 15, 20, or 30 InMail messages per month.

Examples of Best Cold Outreach Messages and Follow-ups

We’ve put our advice to the test, and created cold outreach campaigns that target three audiences: marketers, sales teams and recruiters.

Here are our simple, yet successful templates and examples! 👇

Cold outreach templates for marketers

If you’re working in digital marketing, you’re constantly on the lookout for opportunities to connect with other professionals, exchange ideas, learn, find co-marketing opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to reach out.

linkedin invite to marketers

Hi {first_name},

I love your projects for {company_name} and I just needed to reach out to connect.

I'm a {my_occupation} and want to exchange notes as a fellow {job_title} working in {job_industry}.

I have a great project in mind and I think we could help each other.

What do you say?

This is an initiation to connect template that has worked great for us. Give it a try yourself!

In some cases, people accepted the connection request, but never really answered our message. So a day later, we came back with a short follow-up.

linkedin follow up marketers

Hi {first_name},

Just wanted to send a quick follow-up. I would love to exchange notes on being a {job_title} in {location}, and go through some co-marketing ideas.

Do you want to hop on a quick call? I could send over some notes {IF email} at {email}{ELSE} in a message {END IF}.

Thanks, {my_first_name}

Since we went for an automated outreach, we wanted to make sure each message will have a personal touch and each template fits any scenario.

So we amped up the message personalization by using smart If/Else placeholders, a dynamic formula that can accomodate for template scendarios.

In short, these placeholders that can make up for the missing fields in your prospecting list and replace the information automatically with the alternative text of your choice.

Cold outreach templates for sales teams

When you’re working in sales, most of your time on LinkedIn is spent prospecting and reaching out to potential customers.

So applying successful methods can save you a lot of time.

We managed to sell Icereach to our early customers through cold outreach campaigns that primarily used the following drip sequence (with some alterations for A/B testing, of course):

  • Invite to connect
  • Initial direct message
  • Follow up message

For the invite, we kept it simple, targeting different industries, but avoided any sales pitches.

linkedin invite to sales

Happy {weekday}!

{first_name}, always glad to grow a network with interesting people in {job_industry} industry and I came across your profile.

Let’s connect, {my_first_name}

The initial direct message was more centered around the offer, even providing some insights to support our claim.

linkedin message sales

Hey {first_name}, based on what we’re seeing with other organizations in {job_industry}, at least 2 hours of the day are wasted on prospecting manually.

Would your team at {company_name} benefit from driving more revenue with LinkedIn automation? Would love to show you how I think we could help.

Best, {my_first_name}

We packed up the follow-up with more information and stats on the benefits of the product. And, of course, asked for a call to talk things over.

linkedin follow up sales

Hi {first_name},

As I haven’t heard back from you, I thought I would follow up with a proposal for a virtual coffee where we can discuss how you can boost your acceptance rate to +50% and reply rate to +5%.

Feel free to let me know what date works best for you, or if it’s easier you can choose a time at: https://calendly.com/icereach/meet

Cold outreach templates for recruiters

When it comes to recruiters, we also tested some shorter versions of connection messages, straight to the point, followed by a more detailed direct message.

linkedin invite recruiters

Hey {first_name},

I saw you are working in IT recruitment and thought it’d be beneficial to connect.

Best, {my_first_name}

Once they accepted the invitation to connect, we sent our first direct message, with concrete details on how our product helps them and offered a demo.

Hey {first_name},

Thank you for connecting. I know working in {job_industry} in hard from experience. The reason why I reached out earlier is to see if we can help you automate your Linkedin outreach, save you and your {job_title} over 40 hours in manual labor a month and increase your close rate by up to 33%.

Would you be interested in a 15-min demo and free 7-day trial?

linkedin outreach replies

Since outreach efforts are pretty constant for this audience, the replies came in just a few hours.

Key Takeaways

The way to create connections through LinkedIn cold outreach is to offer your help and time, not necessarily your products or services.

Don’t forget to be human, friendly and relatable, while avoiding some of the most common mistakes out there.

Prepare a good strategy, choose safe tools if you automate the process, and write some simple and effective templates.

Find the right audience, establish a rapport first, and build some trust. Sales will follow naturally.

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