Giving your seat to a pregnant lady on a bus is considered polite and respectful. Having an appropriate tone of voice while talking on your phone in public is well mannered. As human beings, we are expected to follow certain rules and nourish a positive attitude at all times. That’s social etiquette. Maintaining high standards of proper behaviour to provide for a better society. A society where humans respect humans and peace is established ever after. A society where crime would no longer exist, because everyone would be kind and forgiving to each other. 

Ups, I spiralled a bit, forgive me. 🙂

But yes, that’s what social etiquette is for. For all of us to be able to live life in harmony and peace of mind. Don’t we all deserve it?
Aside from the utopia I imagine in my fantasies, what about the online etiquette? LinkedIn outreach etiquette, perhaps?

When you think about how much time we spend online, inevitably, the following question pops up. Do we align our social behaviour with the one we portray online?
This blog post is dedicated to LinkedIn outreach etiquette. Because I believe it’s of paramount importance for us to be genuine and human whether we are on social media or not.

What is LinkedIn outreach etiquette?

I think of LinkedIn outreach etiquette as the manners or courtesy we show while prospecting on LinkedIn. And when it comes to B2B selling, LinkedIn is your best friend. 

Nowadays, most of the business people and entrepreneurs have their profiles on LinkedIn. Sometimes that’s because they want to improve their sales, and sometimes it’s just about the presence. I’ve talked about LinkedIn’s importance in my previous blog posts, so let’s just skip that for now. Having in mind the vastness of the network, we subconsciously want to be part of it. Like being part of one big family. But, do we know the risks? 

Now you’ll say: “Wait, there are risks on LinkedIn?”

Well yeah, you can be kicked out if you don’t behave. Banned to be precise.

So, how do you get banned from LinkedIn? Starting from creating a fake profile, leaking confidential information, to violating intellectual rights – there are plenty of things to take into consideration. But, we will discuss that on some other occasion. Now, let’s focus on the good stuff. 🙂

Be it social media or real life, it’s all about building relationships. Relationships are like an anchor. If one’s grip is strong enough to hold the ship, no wind can push it off. Unless the bond is weak. Then, the ship might simply drift away. 

It’s the same with our relationships in real life. The stronger we build them, the longer they last.

However, the relationships we create on LinkedIn are slightly different. Business relationships. Hence, the business etiquette should apply here too.  Doing LinkedIn outreach with ages, I came out with the conclusion that credibility is everything. Plenty of people are still afraid of using LinkedIn. Since it’s the biggest business network, they worry that they are going to make imminent mistakes. Many people also can’t fully grasp the benefits of this network and often misuse it. These kinds of relationships are defined by the quality of each interaction. 

Etiquette letters in hexagon elements

So, how do you win the hearts of your potential prospects, if not with properly mannered behaviour? Let’s see some of our must-follow LinkedIn protocols.

LinkedIn outreach etiquette and social protocols

Sometimes, announcing your presence on LinkedIn can be daunting, especially if you are a beginner. You most probably will feel like an outsider at first, but don’t worry – that’s completely normal. We’ve all been there. LinkedIn is a gold mine for selling and outreach, so you will quickly find your way. And if not, there are other ways for sure, a couple of which we mentioned here. If you are still hesitant whether to jump in this ‘infinite’ business network, just think of what you can gain.

Polish your profile

First things first, having an optimised profile says a lot more than a thousand messages. Why? Remember when I said it’s all about credibility? People are not naive. Especially those on LinkedIn. With rare exceptions. If you thought that the cashier at your nearby market is judgemental, think again. 🙂 People tend to judge by the cover, over and over again. If your profile does not fit their liking, probably there is not much you can do to win them over. 

That’s why polishing and updating regularly is crucial. These are the things you need to check on often:

  • Headshot – a professional photo of you is definitely required. Preferably not from your college prom. Just kidding. 🙂 Try to put on a confident smile, and positive attitude. Also, check out this article for more tips.

  • Background – blank LinkedIn banner may appear a bit careless. Insert a photo that portrays your business, your interests or services. A combo of personality and business will always do the trick.

  • Headline – the text in the headline should be tailored to your audience. What do they want to see? Market research expert? Write that down. Can you help your prospects make better business decisions? If you’re feeling bold, write that too.

  • Bio – this is the field that you can regard as your personal content marketing section. Use it to tell your prospects what you do, what is your company about, what value do you bring to the table. And finish with a call to action, of course. Avoid complicated and fluff text. Clarity is greatly appreciated.

  • Endorsements, portfolio and other stuff – the best way to receive an endorsement is to give a couple first. Maybe you can ask your friends and colleagues to endorse you, but it’s a bit weird with strangers. Also, make sure your portfolio is up-to-date. Any recent projects you worked on? Add them right away. All of these things give you credibility and insinuate trust.
    Yes, social media integrity is a thing. Especially if you are a businessperson. The better your LinkedIn profile looks like from your prospect’s eye, the greater the chance that they will want to connect with you.

Start connecting

LinkedIn is about connectedness. Partnering and building meaningful relationships. Almost immediately after you step your foot on LinkedIn, you should start connecting and engaging with people. Make it clear what you do. Build your own network. Surround yourself with people similar to you. People that will resonate with you and your business ideas. Random connections that don’t engage are just a number, nothing more. That’s why they need to be carefully chosen. The following “rules” are not official, but as a rule of thumb, they are widely accepted and respected.

So, this is how you start connecting the sophisticated way:

  • Personalise the invitations – Since this network is enormous and it’s essentially hard to stand out, it’s of great importance to personalise your invitation messages. Do you remember when we talked about tools for email outreach and prospecting? Well, no tool can replace the creative labour of your copywriters. With personalisation, your prospects will notice that you made a custom message tailored to them and their individual needs.
    What sounds better to you: “Hi, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”, or “Hi Kathy, congratulations on the successful hackathon. Would you like to connect?” 
    Which one resonates better with Kathy? The choice is obvious. Do yourself a favour and increase your chances of getting clients by putting just a little extra thought.

  • Send a ‘Thank you’ follow-up – After you’ve successfully connected, you can choose to send them a personalised follow-up with a thank you, of course. Not many people do this (yet), so you will end up in the small percentage of people that will stand out. It’s way easier to get remembered this way. Also, it’s in your best interest to continue the conversation, right? 
    You can skip ‘Best’ or ‘Best regards’ because it can sound too formal at times. Simple ‘Thanks’ can get you a long way. 

  • Reply promptly – Replying in a timely manner simply means that you care. And it can, in the blink of an eye – boost your sales. Once you engage in a conversation that is going well, and your prospect seems interested, the last thing you should do is disappear. Plenty of people do this, and it’s frankly – wrong. The conversation should be polite, with a natural flow and on their terms. If you want to sell to this person, make sure you understand their problems and pain points.

Time to pitch?

Not quite yet. Whether you use LinkedIn Sales Navigator or not, you most probably researched your prospects before connecting, right? You already know who they are, and how you can help them. But, sometimes working in bulk can result in mistakes and weird errors. If we want that to never happen, we need to stick to some rules. Yes, “rules” again. 🙂

  • Study your prospect’s profile – This should come as obvious because we want their profiles’ insights. Especially once we’re connected. We can look at their connections, portfolio & projects, interests, education, even their activity, to get to know their personality a little bit better. Also, the moment you check on their profile, LinkedIn sends them a notification that you’ve looked at it. That’s a good strategy to get on their radar. 

  • Shared connection or common interest – If you’ve visited their profile, you may know what makes them tick. Maybe you’ve found some mutual interests or hobbies. You can use this as a conversation starter, or later down the road. Do I have to mention that you need to take notes? Yes, notes. You certainly can’t remember all the prospects’ bits and pieces, so do your best to keep track of your leads.

  • Help them with their problems – At some point in the conversation, you may want to start with your sales pitch. After all, this is why you approached them in the first place. But you don’t have to make the same old hard sales pitch. Direct the conversation towards their problems and how you can help in solving them. A good salesperson should be able to pass on their message across compellingly, concisely and empathetically.

Outreach with all manners

This is it. The LinkedIn outreach etiquette 1.0. It’s nothing complexed or strenuous if you’ve been at it for a while. Practice makes perfect. Focus on your prospects at all times, learn what’s bothering them and approach with a will to help. Talk to them about their challenges and hardships. Build trust. In the world where everybody cares for themselves and making a profit, be different and original. Be a friend. The right people will recognise and appreciate that. 

Respecting these (unofficial) rules can bring you more closed deals, and hopefully clients for life.