If you're anything like me, over the course of your career you've received dozens (if not hundreds) of LinkedIn connection requests from strangers trying to pitch you their product or service. In my case, almost every message that arrives in my inbox is disingenuous, completely irrelevant to me and results in a serious eye roll.

Here's the latest cold outreach I received today. The message reads:

Hi Sam - it would be great to connect. I'm the franchisor of [Redacted Franchise Company], and your background is similar to some of our most successful franchisees. I wonder if you might be interested in finding out a bit about [Redacted Franchise Company]? If so, pls send me your email and mobile number.

First of all, who's taking action on a cold call to become a franchise owner? And second, why did they even think to reach out to me in the first place? My work experience and education seem to be the only signals here, and they're the wrong signals (and nevermind the fact that I don't have $100K in liquid assets to start said franchise). The cold caller used no personalization other than my first name, and didn't take the time to reference anything unique to me. Cookie-cutter cold calling rarely works.

But even worse than the example above is a different message I received where the sender accidently included a canned response beneath her message on accident. Here's what the last paragraph of her message reads:

**********if he reponds********** I would like to connect for a brief chat at your convenience. Do let me know your Whatsapp number or Skype or Official number and email ID

Obviously this person's attention to detail is lacking, and English doesn't appear to be their strong suit, since they're asking for my "Official number and email ID." And of course, when I see that you're clearly working off of a poorly-written script, there's nothing you could do from here on out to convince me that you're worth my time.

Another huge turn off when dealing with "cold callers" is when they contine to push after they get a firm no. If I take the time to reply with a no, the absolute most you should be doing in any reply is thanking me for responding at all. It's no use trying to up your offer or get your foot in any further, because I've already made up my mind. Your pitch wasn't good enough.

Clearly there are a lot of ways to cold call the wrong way. Now let's talk about the right way. Here are the 5 top tips that make for a compelling cold call:

1. Use their first name

I'm sure you've heard the saying that people love hearing their own name. It makes us feel important. So go ahead, and use their first name. It's the easiest thing to do, it takes hardly any extra time, and it's the first step in personalizing your message.

2. Understand their job experience and current role

People tend to reveal a lot about themselves in their LinkedIn profile. If the person has their job history listed, chances are they also explain what they did in their previous roles. Read those descriptions, their headline and their educational background if they have any. And most importantly, do your due diligence to make sure your offer is a good fit for them and what they do.

3. Start a conversation

This one can be tricky, but think about how you can position your message to start a conversation with someone. Your first message to them doesn't have to be a sales pitch. If you both know a mutual friend, use that as a tie-in to your conversation. If you went to the same school or grew up near each other, there's another easy one. Closing a sale requires establishing trust, and if they've never heard of you or your company, you've got to build that trust from the ground up.

4. Find something in common

A quick glance through their LinkedIn profile or social channels will probably give you mounds of information about that person. Surely you can find some common ground - some things you both enjoy or can relate to. There's a reason why most small talk revolves around the weather, traffic or a big news headline. It's easy to establish a conversation when we have something we both can talk about. And don't be afraid to tell them where you found out what you know about them. If you found something about them on Twitter, mention it. Just don't be creepy!

5. Personalize your offer

Notice that this is the only tip that directly has to do with sales. The others were about getting to know the person you're speaking to. If you do start with a pitch, or make your way into a pitch after a brief conversation, you must personalize your offer. This means you understand the other person's pain points, or understand specifically how your product or service can help them. And it's usually not something you can assume before first speaking with them.


If it's not clear from those 5 tips, cold calling takes time. It's not necessarily hard work, but it's not mindless either. If you would rather send the same message to hundreds of contacts a day, prepare to be ignored, blocked and rediculed. On the other hand, if you want to make more money, bring in new business and make people happy, take the time needed to craft the right message to the right person.

Anything else you would add to the list? Any examples of awful cold outreach LinkedIn messages you want to share? Let me know in the comments!