As already mentioned, you’re going to have the best results trying to convert people that are actively looking to hire for services like you offer over those that merely “COULD” use your service because they fit your target demographic. If you decide to set up a 1-on-1 cold outreach campaign via Linkedin, for the most part, you will be reaching out to those that “COULD” use your service which isn’t ideal (unless you see a job posting stating they are hiring for the services you provide), so it will be a numbers game like Instagram but it is an inexpensive and one of the most popular ways for freelancers to get in front of their target audience.
With that being said, for 1-on-1 cold outreach, Linkedin is often considered to be a much better platform to do 1-on-1 cold outreach than Instagram due to the fact that it is a platform for business to get done whereas Instagram is much more of a platform for entertainment. Additionally, one other gigantic advantage that 1-on-1 cold outreach on Linkedin has over Instagram is the ability to use lots of different filters so you can hone in on your target demographic much more easily than on Instagram and you can quickly see all the, for example, small business owners in the Apparel Industry that live in California using the filters that Linkedin provides. Please note, if you’re going to do 1-on-1 cold outreach via Linkedin, you really need to pay for Linkedin’s Sales Navigator or Linkedin’s Recruiter subscription as these will give you the filters you need to do your outreach properly. Yes, you can try to use their free version, but I can assure you without any hesitation, it will be nearly impossible to do any good targeted outreach with their free filters as it’s just so limited.
Last thing before we get into setting up this type of 1-on-1 cold outreach campaign. Although this may take a decent amount of extra work on your behalf, 1 additional thing you can do to get in front of the best people possible during this outreach (which are those that are actively looking for services you offer), if you see certain companies hiring for the services you provide on Indeed, Linkedin, Upwork, via a social media post on Instagram, or on other job boards, you can add these individuals (usually the business owner of that company as they are the decision maker) to your 1-on-1 cold Linkedin outreach campaign as these people could be easier to convince to hire you than the others in your campaigns who merely fit your target demographic as you know they are already searching for the services you offer.
Alright, let’s now get into setting up your 1-on-1 cold Linkedin outreach campaign.
Set Up Your LinkedIn Profile For Your Outreach Campaign
- Be mindful of who is sending out the messages on your company’s behalf. It’s usually going to look best if it’s coming from your profile as opposed to a Virtual Assistant’s Linkedin profile or a sales rep (if you have these for your freelance business). However, if you decide to do a lot of 1-on-1 cold Linkedin outreach like this where you need to do it from multiple accounts (Linkedin will only allow each account to send so many connection requests and messages per day and per week – this shouldn’t be a problem for 99% of freelancers), just make sure that the account you are doing this outreach from is set up properly as we’ll go over below for the best results as the people you are messaging will often times check out your profile immediately after you message them so we need to make sure the right information is there making it easy for them to quickly gather the information they need in how your service is going to make their lives easier. Alright, let’s get into setting up your profile now.
- To set up an optimized Linkedin profile, please do exactly as we state in the “Optimizing Your Linkedin Profile + Maximizing LinkedIn For More Opportunities Guide”
Edit Your Sales Preferences BEFORE You Begin Filtering For Your Target Audience
- Now that your Linkedin profile is set up so that if someone checks it out, they’ll have a good understanding of how your services can help them, it’s now time to find the people you want to reach out to.
- In order to filter people so that they fit your target demographic, I highly encourage you to sign up for Linkedin’s Sales Navigator or Linkedin Recruiter (whichever option works best for your freelance business – although Sales Navigator is much more common for this type of outreach) so that you can hone in on who you want to be contacting out of the millions of people on Linkedin’s platform.
- Doing this will help make sure Linkedin gives you the best matches for who you are trying to target so make sure you don’t skip this step. To edit your preferences, go to your Linkedin profile image and click settings and then scroll down to where you see “sales preference settings.” This is where you’ll be able to adjust your preferences as you can see below.
- Put in whatever sections you want to focus on and then click done.
- When coming up with these preferences, to help steer you in the right direction, you’ll want to think about who is buying from your competitors and more importantly, who has purchased from you if you already have customers.
- Were they all in a certain industry or location?
- What was the company size of the prospects who purchased from you?
- Were they recently funded?
- If you can find similarities or patterns, you’ll want to use that to your advantage and target more people like this.
Filtering For Your Target Audience
- Remember, Linkedin only allows you to reach out to so many people per day and per week so you want to make sure that you are reaching out to the most ideal people possible rather than wasting messages on people that have 0 interests in what you have to offer. Furthermore, you just don’t want to be wasting your time on people that have 0 chance of converting into customers as time is money.
- So, let’s get into the filtering options that Linkedin’s Sales navigator provides us with. There are 2 filter categories:
- Accounts (Companies.)
- You can search for leads by clicking “Lead filters” if you want to search for people or you can click “Account filters” if you want to search for companies.
- You will then see all these filter options so you can hone in on exactly who you want to target.
- You can use any filters you want but some of the core ones that freelancers use are:
- Custom Lists
- Past Lead and Account Activity
- The company filters can also be very valuable. For example, if you’re looking for a current company or even past companies that a prospect worked in, company names, or even the company headcount; you can use this section to do that.
- Once you have all your filters in, the total number of results will show up at the top.
- If you are happy with the number of results, you can click “search” and all the people that match the criteria you put in will pop up.
- From this results page, you can continue to hone in even more by putting in more filters or by deleting some filters to narrow or expand your audience further.
- These people should all fit the filtering options you’ve put in and you can choose to:
- “Save” these people as leads in 1 list so that you can do what you want with them later or
- View profile
- View similar
- Or message them right then and there.
- From here on you can decide whether to message the prospect via inMail, (or if they are a 1st or 2nd-degree connection, message them directly which we’ll get into a bit later). You could also add them to a cold email campaign as we discuss in the “Cold Email 1-on-1 Outreach Campaign” Guide.
- Also, “Sales Navigator provides you with an unlimited number of saved searches and 15 saved search alerts per week.” You can choose to receive email alerts on up to 15 of your most effective searches when a new lead matches your saved search criteria. You can also choose if you would like the frequency of your alerts to be set to:
- To save a search, all you have to do is click the “Save search” button and I recommend you do this as this will just make it easier for new potential prospects to easily be brought to you.
- So, that’s how you use the filtering options to make sure you get in front of your target demographic.
Setting Up Your Linkedin 1-on-1 Cold Outreach Campaign
- Now that you have your profile optimized and you know how to filter so that you see your target audience, how do you handle this outreach in an efficient and effective way? We do this by working strategically as this is a numbers game.
- When setting your filters, if your audience is very broad and there are tons of results of people you can reach out to, you probably don’t want to spend too much time going through each person’s profile (if at all) as your filters should have already made this person a qualified person that fits your demographic. This can be a huge time suck going through each individual’s profile and remember, this method is at the end of the day a numbers game. If on the other hand, there are very few results that come up because your market is very small and getting rid of filters to expand the audience just doesn’t work for your freelance business, then it would be wise to do a bit of research on each person by looking at their profile so that your outreach can be more specific since you don’t want to waste these limited opportunities since there are so few in your target demographic.
- Assuming that there are a decent amount of results, which will be the case for most freelance businesses, you’ll want to create more or less an automated system so that you aren’t spending day after day trying to figure out what you should be doing for each person you reach out to. Your process should be the same for each prospect. You will decide if you want to Inmail message these people and start a drip campaign that way, email these people and start a drip campaign that way, or send a connection request and start a Linkedin drip message campaign that way for those that accept your connection request. From there, you will create a message sequence that will be the same for everyone in that campaign as it should be a message that resonates with all of your target audience and how you can help them as we’ll get into below. Yes, personalization makes these messages better, but for the most part, you can keep the personalization by adding their first name and maybe their company and/or their industry in the message you send. Other than that, you want the message to be the same as it would be a ridiculous amount of work to be changing up each message significantly when doing this type of outreach.
- I recommend handling this campaign yourself for a few weeks or even a couple of months so that you can see how people are responding to your messaging and you can see first hand how you can improve it based on people’s responses and questions. When you get questions or comments, you’ll want to add these questions to a Google Document along with the answer you provided to that question as you’ll likely get the same questions over and over again and this will allow you to quickly copy and paste that response to the prospect so you don’t have to keep thinking about how to respond and craft a really good response each and every time.
- Once you have your messaging all set up, you can then decide to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) or a Leads Generation specialist to handle all of this campaign for you (I go more in-depth on this in the “How to Scale Your Business and Hire Freelancers” document) as well as all of the messaging with these prospects if you’d like. You very well can do this all yourself though as you don’t need to hire anyone to do this for you. The big thing here is that you just don’t want this taking up all of YOUR personal time to the point where you can’t give your current clients good work product. As a freelancer, since you only need to have a few clients at a time, a very large majority of you can handle this outreach on your own without hiring anyone to help with this.
- Alternatively, you can use automation software tools for Linkedin such as Linked Helper, Linkedfusion, Dripify or any of their competitors as tools like these will copy all your prospects from your Sales Navigator search results, send connection requests, messages, and scrape people’s email addresses and their personal Linkedin profile information for you from their profile so that you don’t need to do any of this yourself.
- Please note that it is against Linkedin’s rules to use automation tools on their platform so you are doing this at your own risk. Lot’s of freelancers use tools like this to make their outreach a lot easier but, it is against Linkedin’s rules so be mindful of that as this could jeopardize your account. I recommend not using automation tools like this but I am sharing with you how to do it here just because a lot of freelancers do use them so I want you to know about these.
- The most common method to start a cold Linkedin outreach campaign is to send out connection requests to these prospects that you see in Sales Navigator and then message them within Linkedin’s platform. So, let’s start talking about your Linkedin messaging.
What should the Linkedin Connection Request message say?
- Although you don’t need to add any message when sending a connection request, it will drastically help your acceptance rate if you do so it’s best that you do.
- Additionally, make sure the person that is sending the message has a professional image, a set up profile, and a good headline that someone from your target audience would find attractive as they will see this when you send them a connection request.
- If your headline says, “I sell things to people”, you’re likely not going to get a lot of connection requests acceptances. However, if your headline says, “I help small businesses owners 2x revenue in 3 months”, you’ll likely get more people accepting your connection requests for example.
- Your connection request message should be friendly and should not be a sales pitch. Instead, you’re going to get more connection requests accepted if you show the value you can bring to them if they accept your connection request. For instance here is an example of a message if you help companies with their social media.
Hey First Name – I know you’re busy so I’ll be quick! Saw your opening for a Social Media Manager on AngelList and, having built a community organically from nothing to over 1 million members across major platforms, wanted to reach out to see how things are going. Cheers!
Hey First Name,
I noticed that your social media account and its funnel aren’t fully optimized to convert followers into customers.
Would love to connect and send you a couple of easy tweaks you can make as I specialize in helping Industry Name companies get more customers out of their social media followers.
- This person is more likely to connect with me if they are interested in growing their following or getting more customers out of their social media as I’m immediately offering them value. In example 1, my interest is peaked because of the fact that they are showing they have social proof of their abilities. In example 2 my interests is peaked because I’m promising them some easy tweaks to get more customers. If on the other hand I said something like this:
Hey First Name,
Let’s connect. I’m a social media freelancer and I’d like to grow your social media account so you get more followers.
- The above message likely wouldn’t do as well as you are immediately trying to sell them without first providing any value or peaking their interest with something special that you bring to the table. People, especially business owners, get sold to all the time on Linkedin so it’s important for you to first provide value on how you can help them or peak their interest with prior results as seen in Example 1 and then, once they accept your connection request, then you can send a short message or 2 on how you can help them with your service. Please note, in these messages, you don’t want to be talking about how great you are but instead, you want to state the ways you’ll be able to help your prospect solve their problems with the service you provide.
- Once they accept your Linkedin connection request, you can do 1 of 2 things:
- Option 1. Continue to do all your 1-on-1 outreach directly via dm on Linkedin’s platform (I advise this route) or Option 2: Collect their email address from Linkedin and then just start emailing them through your email drip campaign rather than any more messaging via LinkedIn.
- Let’s first discuss Option 1: Continue to do all your 1-on-1 outreach directly via dm on Linkedin’s platform
- You can craft 2-4 follow up Linkedin DM’s that are ready to go and space these out over a few days or a few weeks (we’ll talk more about spacing these out below). You can send these out manually to people, have your VA (virtual assistant) do this for you, or use an automation software tool to do this for you as mentioned above.
- For example, this would be a good 2nd message
Thanks for connecting, First Name.
As I mentioned in my connection request, I think you’re letting a lot of potential customers get away on social media with how you have your pages set up.
I’ve helped 10+ Industry Name companies just like yours increase their social media sales by 20% in just 4 months with some easy tweaks to your strategy as I’m seeing the exact same issues that I saw with theirs before I started working with them so I feel incredibly confident I’ll be able to give you the same results.
Would you like to hop on a quick call so that I can share these tweaks with you so you can get more customers?
- This message a good job of:
- Offering free help without asking anything in return.
- Framing things on how you’ll help them through your paid service as opposed to just why you’re great.
- Furthermore, it provides some stats on how quickly and how much you’ve been able to help other companies just like them.
- It has a CTA to hopefully get them on a call where you can show how you’ll help them grow and hopefully they’ll see the value that you can bring if hired.
- And this would be a bad second message:
Thanks for connecting, First Name.
I offer companies social media services at an affordable rate. I have a 4.8 star rating on Upwork and I’d be happy to work with you as I know I can do a good job in getting you more followers and growing your accounts.
I know this will lead you to growth with your social media accounts and if you’d like to check out my portfolio, you can see that here: www.abc.com
- The above message is bad because:
- The person abruptly starts selling immediately instead of providing any value first and getting the recipient to warm up to them first.
- It’s way too salesy and frames things as though why the freelancer is great as opposed to how the freelancer is going to help the target achieve their goal.
- The way this conversation ends doesn’t allow for someone to easily ask questions or set up a call as this message just directs someone straight to the website.
- This is probably not going to leave a good impression in the recipient’s mouth and therefore, they will be less receptive to be open minded of any future outreach from this freelancer in the future let alone becoming a client.
- What do you do after your connection request message and your 2nd message?
- After your connection request message and this second message, the recipient should already know that you are trying to help them solve one of their problems as well as a little about what you do to help. Hopefully, they have taken the easy step of checking out your profile a bit further so they have been able to gather even more information about your services which will help move them to becoming a client a bit quicker. Unfortunately, not everyone will take that action of reading further on your profile and it might only be the people that really need help immediately that take the action of reading further. So, you’ll want to send them a couple more messages on Linkedin over the next couple of weeks to see if you can get the ball rolling further and give them the information they need/want in order to hopefully convert them into a client. Of course, if they state they don’t want any more information from you, respect their wishes. If they just haven’t responded to your previous messages, I’d recommend continuing to send these unless they ask you to stop (but this is obviously an indication that this person isn’t as likely to hire you but it’s still possible they will with the right messaging).
- Overall, you typically don’t want your Linkedin DM campaign to be more than 3-4 messages max (this includes the connection request message) because if you can’t get them to take some action such as setting up a call (by far most common for freelancers) or signing up for a lead magnet on your website where they are now going to be dripped emails as part of your marketing campaign, then it’s best to move on as they are very likely not interested in hiring you and you don’t want to waste your time on that prospect as there are other people that would be a better use of your time.
- Let’s take a look at what Linkedin message 3 and 4 could look like in your Linkedin DM campaign (mind you, you can change the messages prospects get or if these messages go out at all depending on the responses you get so that the flow of conversation over DM makes sense rather than just sending them these messages even though they have made clear they want something else from you). So, these messages are for those that haven’t responded or those that sound interested but haven’t taken the next step that you want them taking yet (usually in setting up a call).
- Linkedin message #3:
- Use message 3 to really drive home the point of how you can help them through your service by showing off some stats, case study from a business in their niche, or some results to try to get them engaged that way as you haven’t really sent a message focused on this just yet.
- For example:
Hi First Name,
Is there anything else I can help you with so that you can convert a lot more of your social media followers into customers?
Just in case you didn’t see this on my website (you can add your link here if you haven’t given them a link to your website yet (if you have, you probably don’t want to have a link in back to back messages as that could come across as too salesy)), here are a few case studies of Industry Name companies I helped that had a very similar social media page as yours before I started working with them.
As you’ll see, there was quite a dramatic shift in the amount of customers I was able to help them get quickly with a few changes that I know would help your company in a big way too since you have a very similar target audience.
Would you like to hop on a quick call so that I share how I’ll grow your company much faster?
- This message is good because:
- It starts off with you trying to help the recipient achieve their goal.
- It provides social proof as to how good you are which gives the recipient even more confidence to think about moving forward.
- It provides a CTA making clear what action you want the recipient to take (setting up a call)
- LinkedIn Message #4
- If they still haven’t taken the actions you want them to take by now, rather than continuing to spend your time DMing them on Linkedin (as this can take a decent amount of time if you’re not using automation tools), let them know this will be your last message (hopefully this makes them take action) and that they can reach out if they’d like to move forward in the future.
- For example:
Hi First Name,
I just wanted to let you know that this will be my last message and I wanted to thank you for your time 🙂
If you want any help converting more of your social media followers into customers, feel free to reach out as I’m always happy to help just as I have with 10+ Industry Name companies that had very similar social media pages to yours before I helped them.
The great results I provide my clients is the big reason why I have a 4.8 star UpWork rating (based on over 50+ online reviews).
Do you have any questions I can help you with?
- This message is good because:
- It starts off with you letting them know that this will be your last message so if they want to take action, now is the time. This is important as some people need that little extra motivation of a last call to take action.
- You subtly reiterate how effective your service’s solution is in some shape or form to remind them of how much this could help them.
- You try to keep the conversion going one last time by seeing if there are any questions at which point, you can see if there is any interest and possibly set up a phone call based on their questions.
- Option 2 in what to do once they accept your connection request: Collect their email address from Linkedin and then just start emailing them through your cold email drip campaign rather than any more messaging via LinkedIn.
- Alternatively, if you don’t want to send them any additional Linkedin messages after the connection request like I went over above, you can stop your messaging completely on Linkedin after the connection request is accepted and insert them to your cold email drip campaign as I showed you how to do in the “Cold Email Outreach Campaign” Guide. Once again, if you decide to do this, you can decide if you want to use automation tools like Linked Helper, Linkedfusion, Dripify or any of their competitors as this will make scraping their email addresses from their Linkedin profile much easier for you so that you don’t have to do this all manually. However, once again, using automation tools on Linkedin is against their policy so keep that in mind.
- Also, if you go this route, please be mindful of how this can come off if you friend request them and then just start emailing them without their consent. This is not a method I personally recommend, but I am showing you this as a lot of freelancers do this so I want you to be familiar with all this just in case you decide to use this and want 1 more avenue of how to communicate with prospective clients.
That’s it. That’s how you set up a Linkedin cold outreach campaign. This can be a cheap and effective way to get in front of your target audience since Linkedin offers so many more filters that Instagram doesn’t. So, if you do decide to go this route, just set it up as I explained above in order to make this process as automated as possible. Once again, in a perfect world, you want to focus on going after people that are actively looking to purchase services like you offer rather than just setting up cold outreach campaigns for people just because they fit within your target demographic. So, with campaigns like this, prioritize reaching out with quality messaging to those that you already know are looking to hire for the services you provide over people that just fit your target demographic if possible (you can look at job boards to see who is hiring). Remember, it’s easier to convert someone that is actively looking for services like you offer than people that just fit your target demographic. This is a numbers game but the good thing is, you usually only need a few clients as a freelancer in order to do well.