LinkedIn Messaging Best Practices

Creating Real Relationships On LinkedIn

To understand how to use LinkedIn effectively in your outreach, it comes down to asking yourself, what are the basic elements of a great conversation? The answer to this comes down to the advisors ability to immediately articulate value. If you have the confidence and can articulate a strong value proposition, are optimistic about the availability of opportunity, and are uncomfortable with your own level of success, then you have everything in place to have a great conversation.

How does using LinkedIn Messaging Help Your Sales Efforts?

LinkedIn helps advisors reach a bit of marketing + sales nirvana, with the ability to create and deliver consistent, high-quality messages across prospects while simultaneously touching everyone in their networks at scale. With this power, advisors must ensure that their distinctive marketing messages and insights reach prospects and customers. In the past this was a hit-or-miss proposition, but with the power and simplicity of sharing content & conversations on LinkedIn, advisors can now promote their insights, along with their personal commentary, to their contacts.

Take LinkedIn Personally

When sending LinkedIn Messages to your network, it is important to remember this is a personal conversation with real people. Too often advisors start spamming people with sales offers inside their 1-on-1 LinkedIn messages. Instead, you have to follow a specific strategy and utilize a system of “warm up” messages that break the ice, build some camaraderie, discover what your prospect is looking for, and then pivots into how you can help him or her meet those needs.

“Jab, Jab, Right Hook”

A successful approach to LinkedIn messaging can be found in the analogy “Jab, Jab, Right Hook”. This translate to “Give, Give, Ask”. Jabs are the value you provide your customers with: the content you put out, the good things you do to convey your appreciation, etc. The right hook is the ask: it’s when you go in for the sale, ask for a meeting, ask for a referral. In short, a right hook’s content aims to sell and self-promote and a jab’s content aims to engage and trigger an emotional response.

On Linkedin, there is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup. Just because you jab and jab and jab, doesn’t mean you automatically get to land the right hook. Putting out great content, sending whitepapers, whatever your jab is, it doesn’t entitle you to land the right hook. It just allows you to have the audacity to ask. On social media, you have to earn the right to ask people for a meeting. In fact, you have to earn the right to ask people for anything. Your success lies in your ability to provide value in bites, so that you continuously engage and offer value to the people you want to do business with. Your interactions are hardly a “me, me, me” affair. In fact, you might talk about yourself so rarely that when you do, people will be glad to hear what you have to say.

“You gotta throw some jabs before you throw your right hook.”

Action Items

To find a compelling opening for your message, look at your prospect’s profile for a common connection or an interesting talking point. Leading with this will demonstrate your interest in them as a person, and make them far more receptive than if you were to send a straight-up sales pitch. Not sure what makes a natural, compelling talking point to lead off with? Consider these options:

  • Shared hobbies and interests
  • Shared education history
  • LinkedIn posts they have published or commented on
  • What sorts of phrases does the prospect highlight or repeat in their headline and/or summary? (These often give insight into their values and passions. For example, “culture-focused” or “growth mindset” immediately tell you a lot about both business style and personality.)
  • Mention a common contact
  • Refer to a common LinkedIn Group
  • Ask a follow-up question about a LinkedIn Group posting (theirs or someone else’s)
  • Discuss a common company, experience, or personal interest
  • Ask for an opinion
  • Reference common interests or a specific challenge the prospect is facing. Try to pique their curiosity.
  • Make it about them. Focus on benefits to the prospect, discuss their interests, and refer to awards or achievements noted on their LinkedIn profile to build rapport.
  • What sorts of companies has the prospect worked for? This can indicate their preferred working style: Prospects with a history in start-ups, for example, will operate differently than those who’ve matured in large enterprises.
  • Has the prospect always been in the same discipline or have they switched careers in the past? This can reveal a lot about their appetite for risk and growth.
  • What Skills do you have in common?

The Language of LinkedIn

People ignore messages that aren’t tailored to them, so generic cookie-cutter messages always fall short. Sure, templates can be more efficient & provide a structure for your message but taking the time to more deeply personalize your messages boosts the chance of triggering a response. In addition to calling the person by name more than once, make the message contextual and personal wherever possible. For instance, reference your prospect’s priorities based on insights such as the shared connections and company/individual mentions in the news that you uncovered. Then explain what value you can offer that prompted you to reach out. A conversational tone comes across as more personal, so aim for a free-flowing message that sounds like it came from an everyday person. In addition, using inclusive language (“we” versus “I’) can help improve responses.

Show you respect the prospect’s time by writing a short message that is easy to digest. Write in plain, easy-to understand language, with a goal of starting a conversation. Research has found that messages written at a third-grade reading level get the highest response, followed by messages written at a kindergarten reading level.

Keep the Rule of Three in mind. No more than 3 Sentences per message for initial contact and then using a max of three paragraphs and three sentences per paragraph for follow up conversations. You’re more likely to grab someone’s attention with this approach. When in doubt, Keep it short – The average online reader’s attention span is about eight seconds, so try to keep your messages to 100 words or so.

To ensure your messages lead to further conversation you must create messages that “Start a conversation”. Asking questions or sharing common details about your experience not only encourages a response, it shows you know what you’re talking about. In addition, always offer next steps – either sharing how you will follow up, requesting a meeting, or providing your availability for a conversation. This is the best way to ensure a response and start building the relationship further.