Thinking about starting a LinkedIn outreach campaign? Or maybe you’re here to get ideas to improve what you’ve already got?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, I’ll give you a step-by-step walkthrough for exactly how to start a LinkedIn outreach campaign.
I’ll show you the tools I use and recommend (I’ve tested a ton of them), and I’ll give you pro tips to make sure your campaign is as good as it can be. In other words, you’re about to learn how to use LinkedIn for sales!
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- What Is a LinkedIn Outreach Strategy?
- Why Use LinkedIn for Outreach?
- LinkedIn Outreach: Your Step-by-Step Walkthrough (6 Steps)
- Step 1. Identify your target audience.
- Step 2. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to conduct a search for your target audience.
- Step 3. Connect and/or find email addresses.
- Step 4. Send a LinkedIn message (or a sequence of messages).
- Step 5. Monitor responses to your LinkedIn messages.
- Step 6. Conduct email outreach.
- Top 3 LinkedIn Email Finder Apps
- Top 3 LinkedIn Outreach Automation Tools
- 7 Pro Tips for LinkedIn Outreach Success
- What Makes a LinkedIn Outreach Message Effective?
What Is a LinkedIn Outreach Strategy?
LinkedIn outreach is all about finding and reaching out to new people on LinkedIn – prospects, in other words – who might be interested in your products and services.
The high-level overview is simple:
Find people. Introduce yourself. Pitch your product.
Good fit? Sell them. Bad fit? Move on.
A good LinkedIn outreach strategy means lots of introductions to lots of great prospects. But of course, there’s a bit more to it than that.
There are many ways to conduct sales outreach, but LinkedIn is one of the most effective platforms for B2B companies to find leads.
Why Use LinkedIn for Outreach?
Why is LinkedIn so great as a prospecting platform?
A few reasons.
- User numbers. Every time I check, the number’s bigger. Right now, there are more than 760 million users on the platform. That doesn’t match Facebook’s number, but it doesn’t need to. Consider this: if you can only sell to 1 in a million people, there are still going to be 760 people ready to buy from you on LinkedIn.
- Audience. The LinkedIn audience is different than other social media audiences. These aren’t teenagers. They aren’t soccer moms (mostly). They’re adult professionals who care about their careers. And for some sales environments, that makes it a goldmine.
- Professional search tools. On LinkedIn, it’s ridiculously easy to search for people who meet the exact criteria you have in mind – especially if you’re willing to drop down some money for LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Seriously, you can find people based on their company size, industry, years of experience, and dozens of other factors. In the future, I bet you could even filter by favorite little Debbie snack cake.
- Flexibility. Honestly, I found it hard to write a guide on LinkedIn outreach just because the platform is so flexible and versatile. You have an aggressive, prospect-churning machine of a strategy? Fine. You have a calmer, warmer approach? That works too. Everything works. It’s like magic.
LinkedIn Outreach: Your Step-by-Step Walkthrough (6 Steps)
So what does LinkedIn outreach look like? Let’s break it down into a step-by-step process you can follow.
Step 1. Identify your target audience.
First, you’ll need to figure out who your target audience is. That’s something you’ll need to do on your own 😉
If you don’t have a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account yet, set one up (it’s worth it). Then, conduct a search for your target audience, using the many advanced search parameters to really hyper-target your right audience.
Here’s an example of a search that I created for people in the USA, who are 2nd degree connections, with a company headcount of 1-200, a seniority level of “VP” and a match for the keyword “VP sales.”
Step 3. Connect and/or find email addresses.
Next, send connection requests to each prospect from your search results. After they accept your connection request, you can usually view their email address by visiting their profile and clicking “Contact info.”
Then, you’ll see their listed contact details, which sometimes includes a phone number and usually includes an email address!
You can collect email addresses manually, but you can also largely automate the process using a LinkedIn email finder app. I’ve listed my favorite ones a little further down in this guide. Personally, I use Apollo (and I’ve got it listed as my #1 recommendation below).
Step 4. Send a LinkedIn message (or a sequence of messages).
When you send a connection request, you should customize your request message. Default messages are often ignored as spam. I like to keep it simple and friendly.
After you connect, it’d be ideal if you manually engage with people, bring value to their feeds, and offer advice and help.
But if you’ve got more important things to do than make friends and spend your day perusing LinkedIn to find opportunities to bring unique value to every person you connect with, then you can automate the messaging process.
If you want to automate it, and cast a wider net, then send a sequence of messages to new connections after you connect with them, each spaced a few days apart. You can do this using one of the LinkedIn outreach automation tools I’ve listed further down in this guide. Personally, I use MeetAlfred.
Here’s what my sequence looks like:
Step 5. Monitor responses to your LinkedIn messages.
If someone responds to a message from your automated messaging sequence, then you need to respond to them manually. Be friendly, polite, and respectful.
Step 6. Conduct email outreach.
In step 3 above, we created a list of email addresses from our LinkedIn Sales Navigator search results. Now, it’s time to conduct outreach to those email addresses!
Cold email outreach is a whooooole topic of its own, and I’ve written a guide to it. Click here to see our guide on cold emailing.
Top 3 LinkedIn Email Finder Apps
LinkedIn email finders are designed to find the email addresses of people you discover in your LinkedIn search results.
I’ve tested about a dozen of them, and ranked the top 9 here in this post on the best LinkedIn email finders. Here are a few of my favorites from that list:
Apollo gives you two super-weapons in one. First, you get a Chrome browser plugin that automatically scrapes LinkedIn search results, finds email addresses, and stores them in lists for you. Second, you get access to its huge database of professionals and their email addresses, all with slick sorting and filter functionality. What sets it above the rest of the apps on this list is its price – it costs $50/mo and that includes unlimited email credits. The other LinkedIn email finder apps on this list limit your number of monthly credits.
EmailAnalytics Visualizes Your Team's Email Activity
- 35-50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor.
- Following up within an hour increases your chances of success by 7x.
- Salespeople spend an average of 13 hours per week on email.
Wiza.co lets you create entire email lists from LinkedIn. Once you conduct a LinkedIn Sales Navigator search, you can convert it into a list of clean, verified emails that are ready for your outreach or drip email campaign. There are three tiers of pricing here, including a pay-as-you-go model where you only pay for the emails you actually scrape. It’s probably the most convenient tool on this list, but its pricing is significantly higher as well.
LeadLeaper gives you a Chrome extension that automatically scrapes up to 10 pages of LinkedIn search results at a time, then transfers them to a list for you, finds their email addresses, and makes it easy to export them into a CSV that you can then upload into your preferred sales engagement platform. It also “remembers” all the emails you’ve currently discovered, so you don’t have to worry about collecting duplicates. It’s the simplest, most lightweight, but also cheapest option on this list, coming in at $29/mo for 3,000 email credits per month.
Top 3 LinkedIn Outreach Automation Tools
The value of any outreach strategy is measured by its final results and the amount of time and money you spend trying to achieve those results.
If you can reduce the amount of time you spend on LinkedIn outreach, while maintaining or improving your results, the value of your LinkedIn outreach strategy will multiply.
How can you do that?
One of the best ways is through outreach automation. Save time by making things happen automatically, instead of depending on your manual effort.
There are a number of LinkedIn outreach automation tools that can help you with this. Here are my top 3:
MeetAlfred automates the process of connecting with people on LinkedIn, working from a pre-defined LinkedIn Sales Navigator search URL. It enables you to send a sequence of messages to them after a successful connection. It integrates email follow-ups and even Twitter engagements for a multi-channel automated approach. It has a free version that’s quite useful, too!
LeadConnect works similarly to MeetAlfred, but is a bit cheaper, though it’s also got less features. It can sync your new contacts to platforms like Hubspot.
Zopto offers many of the same features as the above two LinkedIn outreach automation tools, but is more expensive than the other two.
For any of these LinkedIn outreach automation tools to work, you’ll first need LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
That’s what enables you to build out an incredibly robust search, narrowing down your list of prospects to only the most promising candidates. See our comparison guide of LinkedIn Sales Navigator vs. LinkedIn Premium.
7 Pro Tips for LinkedIn Outreach Success
You’ve got the tools. You’ve got the plan. You’ve got the eye of the tiger.
Still. To be successful, you’ll have to follow some important rules.
1. Find the right prospects.
But seriously. This isn’t necessarily a numbers game. It’s about quality, not quantity. You’re better off finding a dozen high-quality prospects who fit your target customer model exactly than coming up with a list of thousands who barely fit.
2. Use automation wisely.
Automation can be a great tool for simplifying your work and reducing manual effort, but it’s not perfect or foolproof. Too much automation can leave you with blind spots in your prospect search strategy, and it can make your messages seem cold, impersonal, or robotic.
3. Keep daily limits in mind.
Be careful with your LinkedIn outreach. If you have a paid plan, you’ll be strictly limited in the number of InMail messages you can send within a given period. Otherwise, your account will be pseudo-limited in the number of new connections you can make and the number of new messages you can send. If you connect with too many people all at once, especially if your account is new, you could be flagged as spammy and have your account suspended.
4. Look out for time zone differences.
Not all your prospects will be in the same time zone as you, and the timing of your messages is important. Consider these time zones carefully, or better yet, use LinkedIn’s built-in tools to schedule your messages in advance.
5. Follow up.
Most people don’t say “yes” right away. You have to follow up if you want a chance to land the sale. That’s why your LinkedIn outreach strategy needs to have a follow-up model in place. Some people like to automate this part. That’s fine, as long as you’re sending personalized messages and timing them correctly.
6. Revoke old requests and failed connections.
Over time, your account will get clogged with connection requests you made that failed and old message threads that never panned out. Delete these from time to time to keep your account clear and more organized. MeetAlfred has a feature that does this for you (I’m not sure about the other tools).
7. Send good messages.
With LinkedIn outreach, at some point you’ll have to send a message – whether as part of your connection request or as a follow-up after a successful connection. That’s the “outreach” part of LinkedIn outreach. Whether you use a connection, an InMail message, or an email, it pays to get this message right. This deserves its own section, so we’ll look at this next.
What Makes a LinkedIn Outreach Message Effective?
What is it that makes a LinkedIn outreach message effective?
These are some of the hallmarks:
- Conciseness. These are professionals. They don’t have a lot of time, so don’t waste it with a long, fluffy message. Keep your messages short. You can always elaborate once you start a real conversation.
- Directness. For the most part, it’s better to be direct than to beat around the bush. Instead of saying, “I’d like to talk to you about your business,” say something like, “I think I can boost your lead generation by 20 percent. Would you be interested in hearing more?”
- Personalization. Don’t spam the same message to each one of the hundreds of prospects you come across. Use technology or take the time to personalize these messages. With a more relevant, targeted message, your prospects will be much more likely to respond.
- Originality. I’m on LinkedIn. You’re on LinkedIn. We’ve both been on the receiving end of, what, 10,000 messages trying to sell us on something? We’ve seen all the tricks. We’ve heard all the boring introductions. If your message isn’t original, it’s going to blend in as white noise. Find a way to stand out.
- A tease. You want these prospects to want to reach out to you. You want them intrigued. Interested. Curious. To accomplish that, try to slip a tease into your message. For example, “we’ve got a secret that has helped 24 businesses increase profitability by 8 percent” is a little clickbaity, but man, does it make you want to learn what that secret is. Entice your prospects to learn more.
There you have it! You’re a LinkedIn outreach master now.
Okay, maybe not yet. But I do grant you the rank of LinkedIn apprentice.
Yeah, I’m qualified to do that.
I’m also qualified to help you become a veritable email guru. How? By helping you help yourself.
See, there’s this tool called EmailAnalytics (spoiler alert: That’s our tool). It integrates with your Gmail or Google Workspace account and tells you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your email activity (as well as your team’s).
It’ll help you answer questions like what’s my email response time? How many emails do I send and receive every day? What days are my busiest of the week? What times of day is my team dealing with the most email traffic?
Everything starts with a 14-day free trial. So what are you waiting for? Start a free trial today!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.