Cold Messaging on LinkedIn: Is It OK?

Explore the etiquette of cold messaging on LinkedIn, the art of personalizing messages, and strategies for respectful follow-ups to foster professional relationships and network growth.

Jan 28, 2024

Linkedin cold messaging on tablet

Ever wondered if hitting that connect button on LinkedIn and sending a cold message is a networking faux pas or a savvy career move? You're not alone! Navigating LinkedIn's unwritten etiquette can be like trying to decode a secret language. But don't worry, you've got this!

Think about it: LinkedIn's the professional playground where opportunities abound, and sometimes, you've got to swing for the fences. Is cold messaging on LinkedIn the home run you've been looking for, or is it a strikeout waiting to happen? Let's dive in and find out how you can slide into those DMs with finesse.

Pros and Cons of Cold Messaging on LinkedIn

Pros and Cons of Cold Messaging on LinkedIn

When you're aiming to boost your leads through LinkedIn, think of cold messaging like throwing a dart at a board: it's all about precision and sometimes, a bit of luck. Let's break down the ups and downs of reaching out to potential connections without prior communication.


Expanding Your Network: Imagine you're at a huge conference. Cold messaging is like extending a handshake to a stranger who could have valuable insights or opportunities.

  • New Connections

  • Potential Partnerships

  • Business Opportunities

Direct Approach: In plain terms, you're skipping the small talk. You introduce yourself, make your pitch, and await a response.

Algorithm Advantages: These messages can signal to the LinkedIn algorithm that you're active. Think of it as a digital high-five to the system, showing you're engaged.


Perceived Intrusiveness: No one likes a sales pitch at a dinner table, right? Some may view cold messages as a modern-day door-to-door sales tactic.

  • Potential to Annoy

  • Possible Account Restrictions

Low Response Rates: Think fishing with a single line in a vast ocean—you might not get a bite for a while.

Time Investment: Crafting personalized messages takes time, like preparing a custom-tailored suit; it's not one-size-fits-all.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Generic Messages: You wouldn't give everyone the same birthday card, so don't send a one-size-fits-all message.

  • Customize Your Approach

  • Research the Recipient

Overlooking Follow-ups: Sending a message and waiting isn't enough. If you're playing chess, you've got to make the next move.

  • Gentle Reminders

  • Persistent, Not Pushy

Techniques and Methods

  • Personalization: This is the equivalent of a monogrammed gift; it shows thought and care. Tailor your message to reflect what you know about the person.

  • Value Proposition: What's in it for them? It's like offering a slice of cake—make it tempting.

How to Find the Right People to Message

When you’re diving into the realm of cold messaging on LinkedIn, pinpointing the right individuals is like finding the perfect ingredients for your grandma's secret recipe. It’s essential. You wouldn’t throw random things into the pot and expect it to taste delicious, right? Same goes with messaging; you need the right mix of people who'll be receptive to what you're serving up.

First off, leverage LinkedIn’s search filters. They’re your best friend in this quest. Think of these filters as your treasure map, leading you to the right profile shores. You can sift through job titles, companies, industries, and locations. But don’t just skim the surface; dive deeper by exploring mutual connections, shared educational backgrounds, or non-profit affiliations. Why? Because these form natural conversation starters—people are more likely to warm up to you if there’s common ground.

Watch out for the trap of contacting only top-tier executives. It's a common mistake to think the higher up the ladder, the better the opportunity. In reality, it's often the mid-level professionals who are the gatekeepers to the opportunities you seek. These are the ones who are more likely to engage, and they've got the insider info.

About personalization—this isn’t just slapping their name on a template. It's delving into their published content, recent achievements, or company news to show genuine interest. Like fishing, you've got to choose the bait that’ll catch your desired fish. Offer a value proposition, sure, but make it so unique to them that they can’t help but bite.

Remember, not all methods are created equal. For instance, an inMail campaign might be phenomenal for targeting higher-up execs, while commenting on posts might work better for those active in discussions. It’s about matching the approach with the person’s communication preferences and activity level.

Incorporating these practices is more art than science. Start with smart searches, proceed with personalized messages, and maintain a tone that's friendly, yet professional. Think of it as nurturing a growing plant; water it with attention and care, and watch the relationships sprout.

Crafting an Effective Cold Message

When reaching out to potential leads on LinkedIn, think of your cold message as a digital handshake. It's crucial to strike the right balance between professionalism and genuine interest. First impressions count, and your message is often your only shot at grabbing attention.

Start with a clear subject line. Visually, it's your first touchpoint, similar to catching someone's eye across the room. You wouldn't want to begin with a hard sell, instead opt for something that promises value. Think of it as a movie trailer, generating just enough intrigue to have the recipient eager to open the message.

You may be tempted to cast a wide net with a generic message, but that’s where many go wrong. Personalization is a game-changer. You're not reading from a script; you're speaking to a person. Mention something specific from the recipient's profile or their company's recent venture. This approach reflects a level of effort and familiarity, akin to recalling a mutual friend’s name at a gathering.

Here are the essentials to craft your message:

  • Engaging subject line

  • Personal touch - Reference their work or interests

  • Value proposition - What’s in it for them?

Avoid overwhelming the recipient with too much information. Picture handing someone a business card instead of a folder full of documents. Your goal is to pique their interest, not give them homework.

A common pitfall is choosing quantity over quality. Flooding inboxes with impersonal messages might seem efficient, but it's about as effective as shouting into a void. A tailored approach is akin to a thoughtful conversation starter—it stands out.

Varying your technique can keep your outreach fresh. A congratulatory note for a recent accomplishment can be just as impactful as an offer to connect over shared professional interests. The key is context. Deliver your message in a way that resonates with the dynamics of the current scenario they are in.

Integrating these practices in your LinkedIn strategy can transform your cold outreach. Aim for a warm reception by showing you've done your homework and let the conversation flow from there. Engage with them on articles they've published or contribute thoughtfully to discussions they're involved in. It's like nurturing a garden; tend to the relationships, and they'll grow.

Personalization and Customization: The Key to Success

When you're diving into the deep sea of LinkedIn for potential leads, think of each cold message as your fishing line. You wouldn't use the same bait for every type of fish, right? Similarly, crafting a message that resonates with the recipient requires personalization and customization. This isn't about sending out a generic 'Hello, I'd love to connect!' but rather about tailoring each message to show you're genuinely interested in the person, not just the opportunity.

Let’s break it down with an everyday analogy: When you're at a networking event, you don't just hand out your business card and walk away. You engage in conversation, find common ground, and maybe compliment them on their work or recent presentation. Apply that same strategy to LinkedIn.

Here’s how:

  • Research the recipient's profile.

  • Find a specific detail such as a recent accomplishment or mutual connection, and mention it in your message.

One common mistake is to lay it on too thick. Like too much perfume, it can be off-putting. Keep it light, yet impactful. No one wants to feel like they're just another target in your sales quota.

Depending on their industry or role, you might want to adjust your approach:

  • For creatives, comment on their portfolio or a project they've displayed.

  • In corporate settings, acknowledge a recent promotion or published article.

These variations show that you're paying attention and that you value their skills or achievements.

But don't just shoot off a message and forget about it. You've got to water the seeds you plant. Engage with their content by leaving thoughtful comments or sharing their posts. This helps to build a rapport and shows that your interest is ongoing, not just a one-time pitch.

As for incorporating these practices, make sure to:

  • Keep a spreadsheet tracking who you've messaged and notable details.

  • Set reminders to follow up, but don't be pushy.

By weaving these personal touches into your LinkedIn strategy, you’ll likely see not just more responses, but more meaningful connections. Remember, it's about starting a conversation, not closing a deal on the first message.

What to Do After Sending a Cold Message

After you've cast your line into the LinkedIn Ocean with a perfectly crafted cold message, the game is not over. It's not enough to simply sit back and wait for a bite. Follow-up is your next vital move. Think of it like nurturing a plant - you've planted the seed with your message, now you need to water it to help it grow.

When a few days pass without a response, send a follow-up message. This reinforces your interest without being pushy. Remember, people get busy, and your message might've slipped through the cracks. A gentle nudge could be all that's needed to get their attention.

Let's talk common mistakes: Don't hammer them with daily messages. That's the equivalent of double-texting after a date — it's awkward and off-putting. And don't make the follow-up an exact carbon copy of your initial message. Show them you're a person who values meaningful interaction, not a broken record.

You've got a few different techniques up your sleeve for the follow-up:

  • Briefly restate your value proposition: Remind them why connecting could be mutually beneficial but keep it concise.

  • Add new information: Perhaps you've got a new achievement or have found an even stronger mutual interest since your last message. Share it!

  • Ask a question: Engage them with a query related to their field. People love to share knowledge - tap into that.

Weaving these practices into your LinkedIn strategy might seem tricky, but it's all about finding a balance between being persistent and respecting boundaries. If your message aligns with the recipient's interests or needs, your chances of success are higher.

Remember, LinkedIn is a professional network. Respecting professionalism is key. If you don't receive a reply after a couple of well-intentioned follow-ups, it's time to move on. There's plenty more fish in the sea, and the right connections will come with perseverance and tact. Keep engaging with content relevant to your industry and grow your network organically. This approach will make cold outreach a little warmer and create opportunities for genuine connections.


Crafting the perfect cold message on LinkedIn can be a fine art. You've learned that personalization is key and following up is part of the process. Remember, it's about striking that delicate balance—be persistent but not overbearing. If you don't hear back after a couple of thoughtful attempts, it's time to move on. Focus on engaging with content and growing your network. This way, you're more likely to foster authentic connections that could lead to fruitful opportunities down the line. Keep these tips in mind and you'll navigate the LinkedIn messaging waters like a pro.

Frequently Asked Questions

How important is personalization in LinkedIn cold messaging?

Personalization is crucial when crafting LinkedIn cold messages. Tailoring the message to the recipient's profile, background, or interests can significantly increase the chances of getting a response.

What are some techniques for a follow-up message on LinkedIn?

When following up, consider restating your value proposition, adding new information, or asking a question related to the recipient's field. It's important to follow up without being pushy or repetitive.

How many follow-up messages should I send if I don't get a response?

It's recommended to send no more than a couple of well-intentioned follow-up messages. After that, it's best to move on while still respecting the other person’s boundaries.

Why is it important to strike a balance when following up on LinkedIn?

Finding the right balance between persistence and respect is essential to ensure you're not overly aggressive, which could damage potential future relationships.

Is it necessary to keep engaging on LinkedIn after sending cold messages?

Yes, it is important to engage with relevant content and grow your network organically on LinkedIn. This helps in creating opportunities for genuine connections, beyond just sending cold messages.

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