3 LinkedIn Direct Message Strategies

3 LinkedIn Direct Message Strategies

I recently talked with a friend who was looking for strategies to leverage LinkedIn direct messages.

He had been having success with some thought leadership content and was getting connection requests from people in his target audience. 

Great! But… How do you reach out now? 

Do you send them a sequence of messages? Do you send them a lead magnet? Do you spam them with a canned pitch including a calendly link? 

In this Sell With Social, we’ll discuss LinkedIn direct message strategies. What works, what doesn’t, and why you should consider using direct messaging in your digital strategy. 

Why Direct Messages Work

In many ways, LinkedIn direct messages are a bit of the Wild West. They combine email, social media, and instant messaging, making them difficult to pin down. 

This has led to an influx of salespeople who are trying to leverage direct messages in very different ways. Some are successful, others not. We’ve likely all been on the receiving end of the “not” successful strategies.

But I can confidently say that LinkedIn DMs work. They can be a great place to start conversations that lead to opportunities in your business. 

Here are a few main benefits I see:

Higher Response Rates

LinkedIn DMs tend to have higher response rates compared to traditional cold outreach methods like emails. The key to success lies in personalization. A message that reflects a genuine interest in the recipient's work or background is more likely to be acknowledged and answered. Your LinkedIn profile acts as a credibility badge, providing context to your message and making a personal connection more likely.

This highly scientific poll I conducted on LinkedIn confirms this. People are more likely to respond to your LinkedIn DMs than most other forms of cold outreach. 

Credibility and Trust Through Your Profile

A well-maintained LinkedIn profile adds weight to your message. It offers recipients a quick way to verify your professional background and intentions, enhancing the trust factor. Ensure your profile is complete with a professional photo, detailed work history, and relevant skills to make a strong first impression.

Advanced Search to Find the Right Contacts

LinkedIn's advanced search features allow you to narrow down potential contacts by industry, job title, company, and more. This targeted approach ensures that your messages are sent to individuals most relevant to your professional goals. Utilize these tools to increase the efficiency of your outreach efforts.

Social Engagement for Greater Impact

Engaging with a contact’s content before sending a DM can significantly increase your message's visibility and reception. If done authentically, actions such as liking, commenting, and sharing content help to establish a preliminary connection, making your subsequent DM more recognizable and welcome. This strategy not only boosts the effectiveness of your direct messages but also aids in building a foundation for professional relationships.

My Top 3 LinkedIn Direct Message Strategies

Now that we’ve covered a few reasons why LinkedIn direct messages can be a powerful tool, let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of this article - strategies. 

The art of sending DMs that get noticed—and, more importantly, elicit responses—requires a nuanced approach. 

A spray and pray method won’t work. In fact, it can actually cause reputational damage and hurt your ability to network effectively. Just last week a community member mentioned how turned off he was by a clearly copy/pasted message he received from somebody in his professional network. 

So needless to say, you need to be strategic with your direct messages. Here are three strategies that I’ve seen work successfully. 

Strategy 1 - Use Like a Message App

The first strategy transforms the traditional view of LinkedIn DMs. Instead of treating it as a formal email platform, approach it as if you're using a messaging app. The goal is to foster a casual and engaging conversation, not to present a pitch or detailed proposition from the get-go.

This is the recommended approach that I gave my friend whom I mentioned earlier. If you have connections who are in your target audience, and they have actively engaged with you, then simply start a quick conversation. 

  • Keep it Short: Short messages mimic the natural flow of a real conversation and are more likely to be read and responded to.
  • Aim for Engagement, Not Information Overload: Ask questions or make comments that invite a response, rather than overwhelming the recipient with information.
  • Transition to Calls Strategically: Once you've engaged the recipient and gauged their interest, suggest a call to continue the conversation in a more personal and detailed manner. This step is crucial for moving beyond the initial connection and towards a professional relationship or sale.

Strategy 2 - Value First, Then DM

Providing value upfront is a powerful way to build trust and interest. This strategy involves leveraging LinkedIn’s features, like LinkedIn Live or content publishing, to establish your expertise and offer tangible value before ever sending a DM.

Essentially, you are following up with direct messages to people who are engaging with your content. This, of course, requires that you have a strong thought leadership strategy in place and are actively building out a digital sales funnel

  • Host or Share Valuable Content: Whether it's a LinkedIn Live webinar or insightful articles and posts, ensure the content is genuinely useful and relevant to your target audience.
  • Target Engaged Users: After hosting a session or sharing content, look at who interacted with it. These are your warm leads.
  • Personalize the Follow-Up: When you message them, reference the content they engaged with. Ask if they have any questions or if they'd like to discuss how the insights could apply to their specific situation or business. This approach not only shows that you're paying attention but also that you're ready to offer tailored advice.
Example of a DM follow-up after a LinkedIn Live.

Strategy 3 - Listen and Engage

The final strategy is all about active listening and engagement. Social media, LinkedIn included, is a two-way street. Paying attention to potential clients or partners and engaging with their content can lead to organic, meaningful connections.

By joining groups and associations that your target audience is active in, you can listen and respond to information requests related to your product or service. The key here is to publicly respond and provide as much value as possible. Then, and only then, will you follow-up privately via DMs to see if that person would be interested in talking to you further. 

  • Monitor for Needs: Regularly check your feed, groups, and relevant hashtags for mentions of needs or challenges that your product or service can address.
  • Engage Publicly First: Before sending a DM, engage with the person's post publicly. This could be through a thoughtful comment that provides initial insights or support.
  • Follow-Up Privately: After establishing a public connection, follow up with a DM offering further discussion or help. Since you've already interacted publicly, your message is more likely to be welcomed.
Example of a discussion in an facebook group.

Keep in mind that there are other spots for professional groups, including Facebook. You can interact with people anywhere the discussion is happening, then follow up with a connection and a direct message.

Some Final Thoughts and Tips

There are certainly more direct message strategies than the ones I mentioned above. However, those are concepts that I’ve seen work personally and through my clients.

But before we go, I want to leave you with a few additional tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your outreach. 

  • Warm Up Your Contacts - Use interactions within your network to transition potential prospects from cold to warm, enhancing the likelihood of engagement. A few authentic comments on people’s content ahead of time can make a significant difference.
  • Optimize Your Profile - Your profile is your first impression. Tailor it to speak directly to your target audience, highlighting how you can solve their problems. People will look at it.
  • Avoid Automation - Personalize your messages. Automated or copied responses can come off as inauthentic and even risk your account's standing on LinkedIn (if spamming or using a program).
  • Be Human - Write as if you're speaking to someone face-to-face. People resonate with and respond to genuine human interaction, not marketing jargon.
  • Follow-Up Wisely - If you don't get a response, a thoughtful follow-up can show persistence without being pushy. Wait for a week or two, and reference your original message or add new value to re-engage.
  • Be Consistent in Your Engagement - Consistency is key. Regularly showing up is what enables you to grow your reach and build trust amongst your connections.

For this week’s action items, I want you to start sending some direct messages! 

If you are in a sales role, your goal is pretty clear - start a conversation that will lead to an opportunity. However, if you are not in a sales role, I still want you to engage with your network using the direct message feature. Your goal is simply relationship building. 

Here are your tasks for this week:

  1. Pick The Strategy - Review the three strategies I suggested above and select one to try this week. More likely than not, one strategy will stand out to you based on your current activity. Is there content you can follow-up on? Are there groups you're active in? Pick one that feels right for you.
  2. Send 5 Messages - Commit to sending at least 5 direct messages over the next week. See this as an opportunity to try new outreach strategies and build opportunities for yourself. See what works, see what doesn’t, and iterate in future outreach to further improve your results.

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