Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Outreach: Tips & Templates to Nail Your Outreach

LinkedIn outreach can be an incredible opportunity to connect with people and make a great impression.

Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of sales reps are using it to build a horrible reputation and generally annoy the hell out of people.

With almost one billion members and impressively high message response rates, LinkedIn is a no-brainer for B2B networking and sales. (Plus, it’s the one social media platform you can scroll at work and not get busted.)

But how do you make sure you’re using it right?

It’s time to leverage your LinkedIn account for B2B sales

Should You Use LinkedIn for Sales Outreach?

If someone tells you LinkedIn outreach is fantastic for any business, they’re probably trying to sell you something.

LinkedIn outreach is all about finding and connecting with potential customers—your leads and prospects—using the social media juggernaut designed specifically for professional networking. Out of LinkedIn’s about one billion members worldwide, around 65 million are decision-makers in the (virtual) flesh.

And sales professionals, (and marketing professionals, and recruiting professionals) are finding intentional, effective ways to connect with the right people via the platform. 

Specifically, LinkedIn outreach can help you and your sales team to:

  • Dodge overflowing email inboxes
  • Improve response rates
  • Elevate the human-to-human approach and appeal 
  • Build targeted professional relationships (it is a business platform)

But is using LinkedIn really a great outreach option for your salespeople? Because not every business can roll with it—or benefit in the long run. So, how will you know it’s right for you? Anybody’s guess. 

Just kidding, we’ve got you. Consider if:

You Have the Time to Nurture Relationships

LinkedIn isn’t the place to spray and pray. Actually, no place is. Don’t do that.

First, examine whether you have the time and patience necessary to nurture and develop those relationships. Because you’ll need to network before you ever try to sell.

To execute LinkedIn outreach, you need to master ✨ social selling ✨. (Cue the hip music the kids are listening to.) 

Social selling is all about relationship development with laser-targeted prospects, whom you engage—consistently—on social media. You can’t send a bunch of spammy InMail messages, fail on the follow-up, and expect this to work. 

You’ll need time to find the right folks, intentionally build trusting relationships—and persist until they convert.

Evaluate your team or company size, sales outreach priorities, and time availability. Is this a viable opportunity? If not, save your energy.

You’re Selling B2B Products or Services

LinkedIn is a business platform, designed for business networks—and business brands. This means that end-user consumers won’t (likely) be shopping in this corner of the internet.

Consider your own experience. When you are in the market for a new personal laptop or pool float, do you do your research on LinkedIn? Probably not. (Though we won’t judge if you do.)

For effective LinkedIn outreach, then, your target audience should be professionals at other businesses. After all, four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions.

This is an easy-to-determine elimination point. Is your ideal customer another business? Yes? You’ve passed this checkpoint. 

But will you pass the next?

Your Target Audience is Active on LinkedIn

So, as long as you’re selling B2B, you’ll be a-okay using LinkedIn, right? Wrong.

Just because they’re B2B doesn’t mean they use—or like—LinkedIn. Certain industries, like tech and SaaS, are more active on the platform. Professionals in healthcare, construction, and retail are also well-represented.

If your target audience is pretty niche, consider surveying existing customers or digging into further research to determine whether LinkedIn outreach is viable for your sales team. (Maybe cold email outreach is your go-to with good reason.)

Don’t follow the pack just because “everyone is doing it.” It needs to work for you.

But if you have the time, and your B2B audience frequents LinkedIn? Use LinkedIn. The prospecting possibilities and outreach potential are tremendous—and, as you’ll soon see, not as complicated as you think.

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach (+ Templates for Each One)

LinkedIn outreach messages come in four shapes and sizes. What you can send and to whom is determined by the degree of LinkedIn connection you have with each potential lead. 

Let’s take a closer look at LinkedIn message types and how to send response-worthy outreach.

Direct Messages

Ready to slide into some DMs? Direct messages on LinkedIn can be sent to your 1st degree connections. This is classic LinkedIn outreach. You have already connected—and now it’s time to chat.

Send successful DMs by:

  • Opening a conversation: Explore a topic or opportunity; don’t slam them with a sale. You need to build rapport first. Dangle the carrot, spark curiosity, and get responses.
  • Writing how you speak: Ditch the formality of an email and keep your tone conversational, personal, and brief. No need to sign off with “Sincerely, Me.”

Let’s review one poor example:

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - Direct Messages (Poor Example)

This is a sales pitch (and not a great one). It doesn’t build a relationship. And “Dear Mr./Ms.” creates unnecessary distance between you and your lead. (In case you didn’t realize, this isn’t a real message. James is way cooler than that.)

Now, a good DM:

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - Direct Messages (Good Example)

This type of message opens the conversation. It builds rapport. And sometimes, it can even direct the conversation to what you’re selling (in our case, an AI-compatible CRM system).

Use this direct message template to learn more about your prospects:

Hi [Name],

Thanks for connecting! I saw your post about [topic]. Great insights! What do you think about [question about post]? And have you considered how to solve [pain point]?

Can’t wait to hear from you, [Name].

[Your name]

Connection Request Messages

Before you can send those direct cold messages, you need to get your connection request approved. This is the first major hurdle in LinkedIn outreach. And you can use the accompanying message to stack the odds.

Write approval-worthy messages:

  • If it isn’t relevant, skip it: “Hey there, I’d love to chat.” Cringe. If you aren’t going to personalize, hook attention, or offer value, it’s better to leave the message space blank. (When they accept your request, you can send a DM instead).
  • State your CTA: So, you’ve written a brief and relevant connection request message. Now include a clear CTA—whether you want them to accept your request, respond to the message, or visit your website.

First, for the ugly example:

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - Connection Request Messages (Poor Example)

See how bland that is? Now, consider:

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - Connection Request Messages (Good Example)

Personal, check. Relevant, check. CTA, check. Could it be better? Sure, but you get the gist. 

Here’s a template for your next connection request message:

Hey [Name], looks like we have [X interest or mutual connection] in common! And I’d love to chat about how you handle [relevant challenge]. Could we connect?

InMail Messages

InMail messages allow you to reach people outside of your immediate network—those elusive 2+ degree connections. This type of LinkedIn message is a paid feature. You’ll need a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account or LinkedIn Premium

We won’t get into the weeds on InMail credits—but know you have a limited supply, so they shouldn’t be used for untargeted mass messaging. With that in mind, you need them to pop. 

Use InMail effectively:

  • Keep it brief and sweet: InMails with 400 characters or less receive 22 percent higher response rates than longer InMail messages, on average.
  • Personalize, don’t bulk: Targeted, relevant communication works great across sales—including InMail. Hook them with subject lines like: “(Mutual connection) suggested I reach out…” or “Hey from a fellow Travel enthusiast.” 
  • Avoid Friday and Saturday: Monday is the best day ever (in terms of InMail responses). Catch your business prospects on fully functional business days.

Ready to cringe? Here’s a bad InMail:

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - InMail (Poor Example)

All those things could be objectively true. New customers will want to know—eventually—that you provide awesome customer support and that your solution meets their needs. 

But be honest, did you even read that whole thing? It’s way too long—with way too little personalization. Instead, try this:

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - InMail (Good Example)

This InMail message weighs in around 390 characters, which is on the longer side. (But seriously, who’s gonna turn down the opportunity to chat about poetry?)There are many angles you can take with InMail outreach: admiring their work, inviting them to an event, sharing a case study—and so on. This template angles with problem-solving:

Hey [Name],

I [saw your post / heard from mutual connection] about how your team is struggling with [challenge]. I immediately thought of [similar company / your customer] that experienced the same frustration. 

I would love to learn more about what you do—and see if I can help (or get you in touch with people in my network who can).

Would you be open to a quick 15-minute chat? 

[Your name]

Message Requests

And finally, message requests. Message requests can be sent to people who are in the same LinkedIn group or event as you—if you aren’t already connected.

Message requests are either accepted or privately declined. (And you won’t be notified.)

One quick tip for solid message requests:

  • Lead with that mutual interest: You were in that group or at that event for a reason. So were they. Lead with that point of mutual interest in your message, while following all of the above tips—brevity, personality, and relevance.

Here’s one bad example:

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - Message Requests (Poor Example)

Does that give you the ick? Good, it should. That’s not even a sales pitch—let alone a conversation starter grounded in mutual experience.

On the other hand, try something like this (for an event):

The 4 Main Types of LinkedIn Outreach - Message Requests (Good Example)

This template covers outreach to group members but can easily adapt to an event:

Hey [Name], I appreciated your post on [topic] in [LinkedIn group]. Solid insights. I’m curious: have you thought about [related topic/challenge your solution solves]? I’d love to hear your thoughts—and share mine.

How to Do Effective LinkedIn Outreach in 8 Steps

Nailed those unique message types? Great. But your LinkedIn outreach strategy needs to extend further. You’ll need to optimize your profile, hone your targeting, develop your lead research approach—and more—if you want to use LinkedIn for sales successfully.

Lucky for you, here are eight killer ‘how to’ tips for effective LinkedIn outreach.

1. Optimize Your Profile to Sell

First impressions matter, right? Especially in sales. And your LinkedIn profile is the buyer-facing asset, which leaves that all-valuable first impression—about you and your company. 

To optimize, your profile should:

  • Be complete: Fill out your profile—photo, headline, summary, education, certifications, experience, contact information—the whole nine yards.
  • Avoid pitch-heavy profiles: Pitch-heavy, overly sales-y profiles will build mistrust—instead of relationships. You want them to connect, not avoid you.
  • Be engaging: So really, don’t be generic. Don’t use every buzzword or default to the third person. You can say who you are—and what your company is—with engaging language and value-based messaging.
  • Get strategic with visuals: You’ll want a professional headshot photo. Also, consider a catchy cover image (logo, tagline, value prop) that keeps people scrolling down.

Here are two solid profile examples—these salespeople know what’s up:

How to Do Effective LinkedIn Outreach in 8 Steps - Great Profile Example.

These are simple, streamlined, and sharp. We like that. 🙌

How to Do Effective LinkedIn Outreach in 8 Steps - Kate Petrone Example

Grab a good pic, use all the brand-building opportunities available (including cover photo and headline)—and then start posting.

2. Post Consistently, Interact Regularly (Like a Real Human)

Again, LinkedIn outreach requires time. You need to network regularly and post consistently in order to establish your platform. Because when you send those LI messages, you’ll want people to recognize you (as much as possible).

Plus, showing up provides natural openings to engage with people in your industry.

One post a day is a good ideal to aim for. If you aren’t there yet, output at least three to four per week. Consistency is what counts. You can even schedule your stuff to go out at regular intervals (automation win). 

And what kind of posts? Video content gets 5x (!!!) more engagement, and live video 24x. If video isn’t your thing, consider how-to texts, helpful articles, and relevant images. 

Mix it up. But keep it relevant. Write about what your market cares about—rather than just your product. This will build a platform that attracts your target audience.

As you warm up leads, remember to reciprocate the engagement. Interact on their posts, crack jokes (when appropriate), and share advice. You know—be human

3. Know Exactly Who You’re Reaching Out To

Imagine your fully remote company receives a sales call, asking whether you’d like to replace the grass at your office building with AstroTurf. Totally out of touch, right? 

Don’t do the same on LinkedIn. You need to know exactly who you’re reaching out to. You’ve heard of buyer personas and ICPs—so use them. Understand the people, roles, and industries you want to contact. Dig into their pain points, communication channels, and chains of command. 

Build targeted lead lists with those people in the roles, that are working in the industries, that face the challenges your product can solve. And develop messaging around them.

Pro tip: LinkedIn Sales Navigator supports this step with custom lists, saved leads, and alerts on those leads. 

Step 6 explores prospect research. For now, think about the individuals—not just the businesses they represent. Because B2B sales isn’t ever really B2B. It’s always one person selling to another.

4. Get (and Use) LinkedIn Sales Navigator

In 2023, LinkedIn commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a study and determine the ROI of LinkedIn Sales Navigator. They found that it yielded a 312 percent ROI over three years—and paid for itself in less than six months.


So, though you can conduct outreach without the Navigator—you should at least consider it. Because LinkedIn Sales Navigator will help you find the right leads, conduct deep research into their processes and pain points, and engage them in meaningful conversations.

LinkedIn Outreach - Get (and Use) LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator empowers sales reps as they:

  • Conduct advanced search: Lead searches pinpoint individuals, while account searches pinpoint companies. Use 40+ filters to find exactly who you’re looking for—and then add them to your custom lead list. (This lead list can be exported to your CRM.)
  • Engage with InMail + Smart Links: InMail helps you start conversations quickly. And Smart Links give you real-time insight into link engagement. Learn who clicks and when.
  • Dive into prospect research: Tag leads, receive lead & engagement recommendations, and get alerts with job changes, news mentions, and buyer interest signals. This helps you stay updated on prospects—and keeps your outreach priorities straight.

… and truly, so much more. We can’t possibly cover it all, so check it out for yourself. 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator does require some cash, starting from $79.99 per user and up. 

5. Become an Expert With LinkedIn’s Search Features

LinkedIn Sales Navigator provides a clear leg-up with your lead search. But if you can’t swing the price, no worries. You can still use your free account to source leads, send connection requests, and slide into DMs. Bing, bang, boom.

But first, you need to find quality leads. Enter LinkedIn’s search function.

Start by typing in a keyword that relates to your business (like “SaaS marketing”). On the results page, click “All filters” and select a few that will help target quality leads. 

You can filter for location, industry, current or past company, service categories—and more. You can even mark “connection of” XYZ person in your network for that "mutual friend" advantage.

And don’t forget the Boolean search. Boolean search allows for complex searches via keywords and operators like “AND,” “OR,” and “NOT”—along with quotations and parentheses. 

For example, if you’re searching for sales reps—not managers—you can type “sales NOT manager.” Use Boolean + LinkedIn search to enhance your prospecting efforts. 

6. Do Your Prospect Research (And Find Common Ground)

Did you know…82 percent of top salespeople say they “always” perform research before reaching out to prospects—compared to 49 percent of other sellers?

Resist the urge to contact leads prematurely. Instead, peruse each prospect’s profile. This information will help you to personalize outreach—which increases the odds they’ll respond.

Look for:

  • Common connections: In B2B especially, common connections build trust—as they value their peers’ opinions.
  • Mutual interests: Did you attend the same university? Both speak French? Have a mutual love for dogs? 
  • Recent events: Promotions, posts, and job changes.

Instead of: “Hey Bill, I’d love to connect,” you can now write: “Hey Bill, I saw your post in the Salesty group—great insights. Looks like we both know Brit Sawyer too. I’d love to connect if you’re down.”

So, before reaching out, do your research—and create a prospect list. Import this into your CRM, so you have all your data centralized. And then? 

7. Craft a LinkedIn Message That’s Short & Valuable

Your initial LinkedIn messages should be all about them. 

Highlight the value you bring to them. Don’t ramble about product features or pricing or company awards (at least, not yet). Instead, focus on the challenges they face.

You might say, “We helped [Company ABC] increase their [KPI XYZ].”

If that company and KPI are relevant, you’ve just demonstrated your value.

Ask questions they’ll be excited to answer. Not, “Can we chat?”

Ask, “Can I ask how your team handles [XYZ challenge]?”

And as mentioned earlier, keep it short, ideally under 400 characters. Make it short, punchy, and valuable, and you’ll turn “meh” messages into must-respond masterpieces.

8. Create Automated Sequences for LinkedIn Outreach & Follow Up

By now, I’d bet your LinkedIn outreach campaign is humming. Let’s make it sing. 

How? LinkedIn automation tools reduce the busy work, help you send personalized messages, drive post engagement, pass info to your CRM—and so much more—without you. There are dozens (and dozens) of options, including Expandi, Zopto, UpLead, and Reply.io

Increase reach, improve engagement, save time. Who doesn’t want that?

You can also use tools like Seamless.ai to search for the email addresses and phone numbers of the people on your lead list. This will make future outreach 10x more effective (not an actual stat).

And of course, we’d be remiss not to mention our own favorite tool: Close. 

Use Close to create cold outreach Workflows—including calls, emails, SMS, and LinkedIn. Set tasks for your reps, like “follow up on LinkedIn,” and the reminder will pop up as part of their everyday outreach. You can even track those follow-up messages with Custom Activities.

LinkedIn Outreach - Close Automation Header

Plus, use the Close + Zapier and Close + Dripify integrations to supercharge LinkedIn lead generation—and beyond. 

Explore the different outreach automation tools, then invest in the ones that meet your needs.

Build the Best Outreach Strategy With Multiple Channels (Including LinkedIn!)

Have you ever had a joint dislocated? Your movements get sluggish—and there’s a fair amount of pain. All because the bone isn’t syncing with the rest of your body.

And conducting LinkedIn outreach without considering the rest of your strategy? Workflows get sluggish—and there’s a fair amount of pain. 

To avoid this, you must build a multi-channel outreach strategy, one that includes your new sales friend, LinkedIn. With hot and warm and cold outreach, from lead generation to follow-up to sealed deal, create sensible workflows that involve calls, email, SMS, and LinkedIn. 

That way, you can reach the right leads, in the right way, at the right time. 

You can use Close to automate and accelerate your efforts—and build an efficient sales pipeline guaranteed to convert high-quality customers. Test us out with a 14-day free trial.

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