I have several colleagues who teach how to use LinkedIn to grow your business. In fact, I coach job search and solo consultant clients on how to use LinkedIn effectively.

So, why do I have a love/hate relationship with selling on LinkedIn? Because several times a month I get the same variation of a cold outreach message from some “expert” specializing in helping consultants and coaches get more leads.

Depending on my mood, and the person sending the message clearly has no idea what my current mood is, I might find their message irritating or potentially interesting.

All of these experts assume I need more leads to grow my business. Does that mean they think I am not successful currently? Or, maybe it is true that pretty much every business owner could use more leads?

Like I said, my response varies. On days when I am slammed with client work, I think, Are you nuts? I can hardly keep up with the clients I have!

On slow days, I think, Well, I guess I could use some help with lead generation….

But these experts are totally unknown to me. I hesitate even to connect if I see certain things in their LinkedIn Headline because I know the next email is going to be some variation of buy my stuff.


That said, targeted cold outreach can be very effective as a strategy, so I thought it might be helpful for me to share some of the messages I have received:

Example 1

This one was short and sweet, but seemed like it came out of a T-shirt cannon in one size. Nothing was customized to me and there was no mention of the reason why they thought I might be interested.

Really appreciate being connected Catherine – we teach market leaders a revolutionary methodology designed to predict buying behavior in less than 90 seconds. Shoot me a message if you want to see how it works!

This is a pure spray and pray tactic. I didn’t respond.

Example 2

This person was much more specific about what they were trying to do.

Thanks for connecting. From what I’ve gathered from reading through your profile, I think that you are a professional like me that builds their business through high quality introductions from the people that I am associated with through various groups and organizations. Is that accurate?

If so, the reason I am looking for people like you is that I am building a team of like-minded people that are willing and able to work together in a more strategic way than what you typically find in the market with people’s relationships. It’s not as easy as it sounds. We as a team are working to elevate conversations that create the least amount of selling and the highest value of communication possible.

If this is something of interest to you, I would like to have a phone conversation to discuss further.

Let me know some dates and times you are available.

This email was way too long, but it wasn’t bad. I am not a fan of assembling groups specifically for the purpose of referrals because it feels forced to me.

And, what I do is a little unusual, so random people tend not to understand who would be a good referral.

Heck, past clients often refer me for things I don’t do.

Example 3

Hello, Catherine! Thanks for the connection. It looks like you’re doing some pretty neat things in your current company. As a business coach, I am passionate about helping people gain clarity and focus, so they can take action in their business. I help people develop strategies and solutions that will move them through obstacles and further toward their goals.

If you’d like someone in your “corner” to support you or you want to see how we may be a good fit, feel free to check out my calendar to find a time that suits best for you <calendar link>.

This was a good message because the tone was friendly and helpful, but it is loaded with buzzwords and isn’t specific about what this person actually DOES. Everybody gives clients strategies and solutions. Buzzword bingo.

I actually meant to respond that I wasn’t interested at this point, but I forgot. So, they sent another email to nudge me. I give them credit for keeping track.

I just wanted to follow up on my previous message! I’d still love to connect for a chat in an effort to get to know you better. As a business, health, and life coach, I’m passionate about helping others gain focus, clarity, and wade through difficult circumstances they may find themselves in. If you’d like someone in your corner holding you accountable, cheering you on, and helping you get focus, just let me know. As a business owner myself, I know just how important strategies and solutions can be.

Feel free to check out my calendar to find a time that suits best for you <calendar link>.

Thanks again for connecting with me. Have a great day!

This one was much better and I did respond saying that it was one of the better outreach messages I had received but I was currently working with a coach and was happy with our relationship.

Honestly? I liked this message and if I were looking for help, I would have booked an appointment even though “business, health, and life coach” still sounds way too vague.

Sometimes these messages work. Generally, they work much better if you take time to build rapport with someone and then ask them if they are interested in learning more.

As my mentor Michael Port always says, “Make offers proportionate to the amount of trust you have built over time.” That still seems like good advice to me.