There are a few ways you can message LinkedIn Members you are not yet connected with.
By default, LinkedIn only allows us to directly message our 1st level LinkedIn Connections. However, there are options to overcome this limitation.
- LinkedIn Groups – If you are in a LinkedIn Group with the LinkedIn Member you want to message, you can view them in the member list of the group and send them a message from within the Group. Read more – LinkedIn Messaging in Groups
- Open Networker – If the LinkedIn Member you want to message is a premium LinkedIn subscriber they may have enabled Open Profile. This allows any 2nd or 3rd level LinkedIn Member to send a free InMail message to them. Read more – LinkedIn Open Profile
- Mutual Connection Introduction – If you have mutual LinkedIn connections with the LinkedIn Member you want to message, you can ask a mutual connection to send a LinkedIn message or an email to introduce you to them. If the mutual connection opts to use a LinkedIn message they can create a message that is addressed to you and the LinkedIn Member. Read More – LinkedIn Introductions
- Premium LinkedIn InMails – This feature is only available to Premium LinkedIn Subscribers. However, InMails, used properly and written focused on the other person often can open up a new conversation. Read more – LinkedIn Inmail Tips
- Bump into their content – If the LinkedIn Member is active on LinkedIn, you may be able to find a piece of their content that is relevant to you which you could engage on directly.
- Tag them in a Company Page Comment – Where relevant and appropriate, you could tag the LinkedIn Member you want to talk with in a comment on a relevant LinkedIn Company Page post.
- Look for them on other Social Media – This may not work for most LinkedIn Members, however there are some who actively engage on Twitter, YouTube, Quora, Facebook Groups, their Blog, Tumblr, Reddit, etc. These other social media channels could be a way to reach the LinkedIn Member you want to contact.
- Go IRL – even during the Pandemic of 2020/2021 you could find the LinkedIn Member you want to message through a virtual or in real life networking event. Pay attention to what events they attend and, where relevant and appropriate, visit those networking events.
- Call them – I agree, cold calling is the least likely way to engage with a LinkedIn Member who does not yet know you. However, if you are able to use any of these other tactics, it may not be a cold call.
- Email them – As with cold calling, this may not be a possibility. It may take extra work to find out what their email address is. However, where possible, this could be another channel that could create the opportunity for a conversation.
- Send them a letter – I list this as an option because there are times where it could work. Again, if you have used any of the other tactics a letter may not go unopened and could result in an opportunity for a conversation. One of the challenges today is discovering where to send a letter as with the 2020/2021 pandemic ongoing, they may not get mail from the office.
- Message them via a LinkedIn Invite – I offer this option only as a last resort. I firmly believe LinkedIn Invites should be just for that purpose – sending an invite that is accepted. however, once you send a LinkedIn Invite, or they send you one, this opens up LinkedIn messaging for continued conversation, even if the invite is not accepted.
In sales training, we are told that it can take 7+ times touching a lead to move them into a business conversation. I don’t necessarily subscribe to this philosophy in regards to sales as I know first hand, until they have the interest and/or the need, you can try to touch them as many times as you want, however, many will not respond until they are ready.
Rather than trying to move someone into a business conversation too early, I strive to move them into a very simple and friendly human-to-human conversation. This makes the sales process longer, but the invite to meet someone new is often accepted before the invite to have a business conversation. The other person needs to develop some level of trust & respect with a stranger before they are willing to consider a business conversation. Because of this, I regularly recommend, be working on multiple prospects at all times. Seeking to move them all into that initial human-to-human conversation.