Cold Email

Mastering Cold DMs: Start Conversations That Count

Learn effective strategies for cold DMs: Starting conversations, perfecting follow-up timing, and avoiding common pitfalls for meaningful connections.

Feb 15, 2024

Man talking on a smartphone about mastering cold DMs and how to start conversations that count

Ever slid into someone's DMs and waited anxiously for a reply? Starting a cold DM can feel like stepping onto a stage with a spotlight on you, palms sweaty, heart racing. You're not alone. It's the digital equivalent of cold-calling, and it's just as nerve-wracking.

But why is nailing that first message so crucial? Whether you're networking, looking for a job, or reaching out to a potential client, your opening message can make or break that first impression. You've got one shot to pique their interest, so let's make it count.

Think of the possibilities if you master the art of the cold DM. Could it open doors to new opportunities? Lead to unexpected collaborations? It's time to dive in and discover the secrets to crafting a message that gets you noticed for all the right reasons. Ready to turn those cold DMs into warm conversations? Let's get started.

Why starting a cold DM is important

Why starting a cold DM is important

Connecting with potential leads is like starting a campfire; first impressions are the spark that can ignite a conversation. Your first message in a cold DM sets the stage; nail it, and you've got a flicker of interest that may grow into a flourishing professional relationship.

Think of it this way: You wouldn't walk into a networking event, throw your business card at someone, and walk away—it's impersonal. Similarly, firing off a generic message in someone's DMs often leads to quick dismissal. Personalization is key. Like using the perfect kindling for your campfire, tailor your message to show genuine interest in what the receiver does, and demonstrate how your connection could be mutually beneficial.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Let's talk about some common slip-ups:

  • Lack of research: Imagine calling someone by the wrong name at a party. Embarrassing, right? It's just as awkward in a DM. Always double-check details like their name, company, and recent achievements.

  • Being too salesy: You're reaching out to start a conversation, not to close a deal on the first message. Keep it friendly and value-oriented.

  • Long-winded messages: Time is precious. Respect it. Your message needs to be concise—just enough to pique their interest and get a reply.

Techniques, Variations, and Methods

The tactics you use in your cold DM can vary greatly:

  • Soft selling: Focus on relationship building rather than pushing a product or service.

  • The commonality approach: Find common ground, such as shared interests or mutual connections, to make your message more relatable.

  • Content appreciation: Comment on a recent post or article they've written as a conversation starter.

Each method has its place. If you're reaching out to someone in a similar industry, the commonality approach might work best. But if they've just published a thought-provoking article, starting with content appreciation could be more effective.

  • Segment your audience: Customize your messages based on the specific group you're targeting.

  • A/B testing: Try different message templates and track which ones get better responses. Iterate accordingly.

  • Follow-up strategy: If you don't get a response, plan

Understanding the purpose of your cold DM

Before you shoot off a barrage of messages, pause and ponder the real goal of your cold DM. You're not just casting out lines, you're spearfishing – target-focused and precise.

Identifying your objective is crucial; it’s like knowing why you're shaking hands with someone. Is it to network, pitch a product, or perhaps share an opportunity? Clearly defining your aim will steer the conversation in a direction that benefits both parties.

Navigating Common Pitfalls

Many slip on the ice when attempting to glide into DMs. Common blunders include:

  • Lack of a clear objective: Similar to leaving your house without knowing where you're going.

  • Being overly promotional: It’s like showing up to a costume party dressed for a board meeting - out of place and unwelcome.

  • Not personalizing: This is akin to calling everyone in the room by the wrong name. It’s awkward, impersonal, and won't win you any favors.

Tips to Sidestep Missteps

Here’s how to avoid those common mistakes:

  • Craft your DM as if you’re tailoring a suit – made to fit the individual, not one-size-fits-all.

  • Share a benefit or piece of knowledge right away - think of it as a free sample at your favorite store; it's small but compelling.

  • Display genuine interest and complement specific work they’ve done. It shows you’ve done your homework.

Techniques That Hit the Mark

Different approaches resonate with different targets. Consider these strategies:

  • Soft Selling: It's playing the long game, building a relationship first before making an offer.

  • Warm Connections:

  • Informed Remarks: Highlight your knowledge by mentioning a recent success they've had or a project they’re currently involved in.

Integrating Cold DM Practices

Incorporating these practices into your strategy requires finesse. Here's the lowdown:

  • Lay the groundwork by engaging on their posts before sliding into DMs.

  • Keep a tracker of your interactions and any details they've shared; it's your personal dossier for each connection.

Researching your recipient before sending a cold DM

Researching your recipient before sending a cold DM

Before hitting send on that cold DM, you've got to do your homework. Thorough research sets the foundation for a message that resonates with the recipient. You wouldn’t walk into an interview without knowing about the company, right? The same goes here.

Start by scoping out their social media profiles. LinkedIn is a goldmine for professional insights, while Twitter and Facebook can give you a peek into personal interests or recent achievements. Think of it like putting together pieces of a puzzle. You're gathering details to form a complete picture of who your recipient is, what they care about, and how you can align your message with their interests.

Here’s a simple breakdown of what to look for:

  • Current role and company: Understand their professional turf.

  • Recent posts or articles: Find out their latest musings and professional opinions.

  • Common connections: Leverage mutual contacts for a warm introduction.

  • Endorsements and skills: Pinpoint what they excel at and value.

Be wary of common blunders like spelling their name wrong or referencing outdated information. It’s a surefire way to have your message ignored.

For the approach. There are a few paths you can tread:

  • Soft selling: Gently introduce yourself, keeping any sales pitch on the back burner.

  • Informed flattery: Sincere compliments based on recent accomplishments.

  • Commonality bridge: Connect through shared interests or experiences.

Whichever route you choose, ensure it feels natural, not contrived. It's like choosing the right lure for the fish you're aiming to catch; knowing what appeals to them makes all the difference.

Integrating this practice is more of an art than science. Start by engaging with their content—but don’t overdo it. A ‘like’ here and a thoughtful comment there can prep the ground before you reach out directly. And remember to keep track of your interactions. If you've interacted several times and they've engaged back, that's your signal. Your DM isn't so cold anymore—it's getting warmer by the minute.

Crafting an attention-grabbing subject line

Imagine you're fishing and your subject line is the bait. You want to craft bait that's irresistible to the fish, so they're compelled to bite. Similarly, when reaching out through a cold DM, you want your subject line to hook your recipient's interest immediately.

Your subject line serves as your first impression. It determines whether your message gets opened or ignored. Think about it as a movie trailer; it should be exciting, give a sneak peek, and leave them wanting more. Keep it concise and potent – aim for less than 10 words that pack a punch.

Here's where common mistakes occur. You might think using a generic greeting or an overly formal approach will show professionalism, but it can just blend into the sea of unread messages. Avoid lines like Following Up or Touching Base.” They're overused and say nothing about the value you're offering.

Instead, try techniques that personalize the subject line to the recipient's interests or current initiatives. Mention a relevant achievement or a mutual connection. Questions also work well to spark curiosity; for example, Quick thought on your latest post – have you considered this?

Consider these variations in your subject lines:

  • Informed Praise: Impressed by your latest campaign's reach!

  • Commonality: Fellow X Enthusiast? A quick idea…

  • Intrigue: 3 insights your competitors might be overlooking

  • Offering Value: Exclusive SEO tips tailored for your site

Incorporating practices that resonate with your audience is crucial. You've researched your recipient, so inject that knowledge into your subject line. It shows genuine interest and effort.

About avoiding errors, always double-check for typos and grammar mistakes. They can be distracting and may detract from your professionalism. You also don't want to write a subject line that's misleading just to get a click; it can damage trust.

Remember, the goal isn't just to get your message opened but to build a connection. Select a subject line that'll not only capture attention but also align with the content of your message, ensuring it's relevant and meaningful. As you craft your subject line, ask yourself, Would this pique my interest if I were in their shoes? If the answer's yes, you're on the right track.

Writing a compelling opening message

Crafting a compelling opening message for a cold DM is like trying to get a foot in the door of someone's busy day. Your initial words carry immense weight, and it's crucial to make them count. Imagine you're knocking on a stranger's door; you'd put on your best smile and offer something they can't ignore.

First, kick off with something personal. If you're reaching out on LinkedIn, mention a recent achievement or job change they've posted. In less formal platforms, like Twitter or Instagram, referencing a recent post or shared interest can make a valuable connection.

Here's an everyday analogy to simplify this idea: think of your message as a tailored suit. It should fit the recipient's professional background and personal interests like a glove, showing that you've taken the time to understand who they are and what they care about.

Avoid spammy greetings — they're the equivalent of junk mail that's destined for the trash. Instead, opt for something more genuine, like, I noticed your work in design innovation, and I'm genuinely impressed.

When it comes to common mistakes, one major faux pas is launching into a pitch without preamble. That's like asking someone to marry you on the first date! Ease into it with a warm up, establishing rapport before you swing into what you're offering or asking.

Let's talk about techniques. Tailoring your approach depending on the platform and purpose of your message can make a world of difference. A message on LinkedIn might be more professional and industry-related, while a DM on Instagram could be more casual and creative.

Remember to incorporate relevant practices to your message. If you're in sales, align your message with the pain points or desires your lead might have. If networking is your game, express genuine curiosity about their work or industry insights.

To guide your path, think value-first. What can you offer them? Maybe it's a resource, a piece of advice, or an introduction to someone in your network. Offering value establishes you as a connection worth considering, and speaks louder than any generic message ever could.

By keeping these points in mind, you'll be well on your way to crafting messages that not only get read but also start building meaningful professional relationships.

Adding personalization and customization to your cold DM

When you're about to send a cold DM, think of it as fishing with a special lure designed just for the fish you're targeting. You wouldn't use the same bait for a salmon as you would for a catfish, right? Personalization in your messages works the same way. It's about creating a connection by showing that you've done your homework.

Start by researching your recipient. Look into:

  • Their recent work accomplishments

  • Posts they’ve engaged with

  • Mutual connections you might share

Then, incorporate what you've learned into your message. It's like spotting someone's favorite book on their shelf and starting a conversation about it – it immediately creates common ground.

Avoid one of the most common mistakes: using their name and calling it personalization. That's the equivalent of just saying hello and expecting a deep conversation to blossom. Instead, mention specifics to their work or interests. For example:

I saw your recent piece on renewable energies and the unique perspective you presented on solar technology. It really stood out to me because...

By referring to their work or interests, you’re not just breaking the ice – you're melting it.

Different platforms might require different approaches. On LinkedIn, you might keep it professional, mentioning a recent conference they attended. On Twitter, you might comment on a recent thread they engaged in. Every platform has its own language, and you’ve got to be fluent.

Let’s talk techniques:

  • The Compliment and Question: Praise their work, then ask a related question to spark conversation.

  • The Common Ground: Mention a mutual connection or shared interest to establish relatability.

  • The Offer of Value: Share a piece of content or knowledge you believe they’d find useful.

Remember, personalization is more than flattery; it's about making the conversation valuable to them as well. Show that you're not just reaching out for your benefit, but that there’s something in it for them too. Offering insights, assistance, or even just sparking a fascinating discussion can pave the way for a relationship that both parties will value.

Following up effectively after sending a cold DM

Once you've cast your line into the waters with your initial personalized DM, the wait begins. But don't be idle. You've gotta keep the momentum going with an effective follow-up strategy. Think of following up as tending a garden—it’s about nurturing the seeds you've planted, giving them enough attention to sprout and grow.

Wait, How Long?
Let's tackle the first big question you're probably asking: How long should I wait before sending a follow-up message? There's no one-size-fits-all answer here, but generally, 48 to 72 hours is a reasonable timeframe. It shows that you're interested, but not pushy.

Key Points to Remember When Following Up

  • Be Respectful of Their Time: Acknowledge that they're likely busy. A quick note saying you understand they have a packed schedule can go a long way.

  • Add New Information: If you've got some fresh insight or valuable content that wasn’t in your original message, include it here.

  • Keep It Brief: Your follow-up is a gentle nudge, not a shove. A few sentences is often enough.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Spamming: Sending too many messages too quickly can overwhelm or annoy the recipient.

  • Being Generic: Your follow-up should be just as personalized as your first message.

  • Reference Your Original Message: Remind them of your primary interaction to trigger their memory.

  • Pose a Question: Asking something specific can prompt them to engage in conversation.

  • Soft Call-to-Action: Invite them to check out a resource or suggest a time to chat briefly.

Applying these tips doesn’t mean you’ll get a response every time. But it does mean that when you do, it’ll likely be a meaningful engagement. Remember, each message is a step toward building a connection. Sometimes, your persistence and approach can turn a cold lead into a warm conversation, potentially unlocking new opportunities with every thoughtful DM you send.


Kickstarting a conversation with a cold DM can be daunting but with the right approach, you're setting the stage for a potential relationship. Remember, timing is key and a thoughtful follow-up can make all the difference. It's about striking the perfect balance between persistence and respect for the recipient's time. By referencing previous interactions and asking engaging questions, you're one step closer to turning a cold message into a warm exchange. Keep it concise, personalize your approach, and you'll open doors to new opportunities. Stay patient, stay genuine, and watch as your cold outreach efforts bear fruit.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I wait before sending a follow-up DM after the initial message?

After sending a cold direct message, you should typically wait 48 to 72 hours before following up. This gives the recipient enough time to respond and shows that you respect their time.

What are the key points to remember when following up?

When following up, remember to be concise, respectful of the recipient's time, and avoid being generic. Reference your original message, ask a question, and include a soft call-to-action to engage the recipient.

What mistakes should I avoid in my follow-up DM?

Avoid spamming the recipient with too many messages and sending generic follow-ups that don't reference the initial conversation. This can be perceived as insincere or pushy.

Can a well-crafted follow-up DM improve my chances of getting a response?

Yes, a thoughtful follow-up DM that references the original message, poses a question, and includes a call-to-action can turn a cold lead into a warmer conversation and improve your chances of getting a response.

Explore your lead generation options

Book a call

Explore your lead generation options

Book a call

Explore your lead generation options

Book a call