LinkedIn Cold Message Strategies to get Replies

Learn about different types of LinkedIn outreach and how to write a cold connection message that converts.

Maggie Georgeson
Outbound Strategist
April 12, 2024

This article is for sales professionals who want to learn about LinkedIn outreach and how to write a cold connection message that sounds authentic and converts. We’ll provide examples of real messages, along with performance stats from analyzing hundreds of cold LinkedIn campaigns from the last 3 years. 

What is cold LinkedIn messaging? 

Cold LinkedIn messaging refers to the practice of reaching out to individuals on LinkedIn who you have no prior relationship with, in order to initiate a conversation and potentially start a sales conversation. This form of outreach is "cold" because the recipient has not opted into the communication and may not be familiar with you or your company. 

There are many ways to build new business relationships on LinkedIn, ranging from following, to commenting on posts, to connection requests, to InMails. LinkedIn offers different tools (SalesNav) and pricing tiers (Premium Business) that can help you find relevant contacts and send direct messages. 

For the purpose of this article, we will focus specifically on sending cold LinkedIn connection messages, which don’t require a Premium or Sales Nav subscription.  

Why send cold messages on LinkedIn?

There are several key benefits to sending messages and growing connections on LinkedIn:

  • Access to a large pool of potential leads: LinkedIn has over 700 million users, including professionals from all kinds of industries. This provides a much larger network of potential leads to engage with compared to traditional channels like trade shows or local events.
  • Targeted prospecting & customization: LinkedIn allows you to search for prospects based on specific criteria such as industry, job title, company size, and location. When viewing a profile, you have access to lots of information that will help you decide if the lead is a good fit for your solution, and enable you to send a highly customized message.  
  • Building long term relationships: Because LinkedIn is a social network, you can build and nurture relationships with prospects over time. After making an initial connection, prospects will see your posts, comments, etc., making sure that your solution stays top of mind.
  • Generating leads: While we recommend taking a softer, less direct approach to selling on LinkedIn than with cold calling or email, it is still a viable channel for setting sales meetings and adding new opportunities to your funnel. 

How to send a LinkedIn connection message 

A LinkedIn connection message is a short message that you can send along with a connection request on LinkedIn. A well-crafted connection message can increase the likelihood that your request will be accepted, as it helps to establish a personal connection and provides context for the request.

Here’s how to add a message to your connection request: 

  1. Navigate to the prospect’s LinkedIn profile and click Connect
  1. Click Add a note in the pop up window
  1. Write a custom connection message within the character limit enforced by LinkedIn. Hit send! 

LinkedIn cold message best practices


  • LinkedIn messages should be professional, but also conversational. Stick to a casual, authentic tone that you would use normally to connect with a colleague.  
  • This is truly a 1-1 communication platform. It can be more like a live chat than an email thread once a conversation is started.As an exercise, envision yourself as a busy CEO writing a quick message from their iPhone.
  • Always seek to provide value to the prospect; the message should be centered on THEM, not YOU. What can you offer them in exchange for responding to your message?

Connection request length and format

  • LinkedIn enforces hard limits on connection requests, so you’ll have to stay under 250-300 characters for the initial message.
  • Sentence #1: Personalized reason for reaching out
  • Sentence #2: Question about something they are struggling with, sharing a resource, making the connection, etc.
  • Sentence #3: Brief call to action

Call to Action

  • Always finish with Y/N question.
  • Make sure it is clear what the next steps or actions will be.
  • Do not end with “let me know.'

Follow Up

  • It is common for people to accept a request to connect without actually replying to your message. Follow up with them each week with a unique, personalized note. There is a high chance that they had never heard of you before your LinkedIn cold message, and it could just be a matter of timing. 

Cold message examples for LinkedIn 

Strategy: Share more

Reference a pain point or certain initiative, offer customized tactics or ideas, and ask to share more. The goal is to make the prospect feel like you spent time researching their business and have a relevant solution for them.


Hey {{FirstName}}, Curious if I can share a few video ideas my team put together for {{Company}}?

We're helping SaaS and technology companies incorporate more video content into their EOY marketing strategies.

Can I share more?

{{firstName}}, do you have a behavioral science strategy at {{currentCompany}}?

Would love to connect and share our findings in the b2b tech space re: product adoption and retention tactics. Would you be open to that?

Strategy: Soft Selling with Guides or Blog Content

If you want to demonstrate expertise and generate warm responses (even if they don’t convert to meetings right away), offer up helpful resources.


Hi {{firstName}}, We put together a detailed guide for creating a Black Friday/Cyber Monday marketing strategy in 2023 - based on what we're planning for clients like Liquid Death, The North Face, and IGLOO. If that sounds relevant, can I share it?

Hey {{firstName}}, we just created a guide for agencies that can help your team stop making mistakes in the client onboarding process.

If you are looking into how to improve your client experience, this might be helpful.
Can I send it over?

Strategy: Conversation Starter

The goal with this LinkedIn cold message is to make the connection and get the prospect talking. Less about asking for a meeting right now.


Hey {{FirstName}},

I've been working with other CTOs to automate preview environments and simplify production deployments in AWS or GCP. Curious if you're happy with your dev workflows at {{Company}} right now?

Hi {{firstName}}, just hoping to connect and get my company on your radar.

If {{currentCompany}} ever has any electronic component shortages or delays, we’d love to be a resource for you.

Strategy: Name Drops

If you work with recognizable brands, you can reference those projects to build credibility. Make sure to always include something about the results (not statistics necessarily, but the purpose/business outcome). 


Hi {{firstName}}, {{currentCompany}} has been on my list for a while now, so thanks for connecting.

If you're open to it, I'd love to share our proprietary “Growth Map" that's helping brands like Igloo and Liquid Death grow DTC sales. Any interest?

Hey {{FirstName}}, Are you happy with {{Company}}'s content strategy right now?

Hoping to share some of the work my studio is doing in cyber and networking space, like over 1000 pieces for IMB blog's and education 1 minute videos for Forcepoint.
Would that be ok?

Strategy: Partnership

A partnership offering is something mutually beneficial between parties, for example, two complementary agencies.


Hi {{firstName}}, hoping to connect about some new project opportunities.

I work for Kept, a bookkeeping firm that is always looking for more skilled partners (fCFO’s and CPA’s). Any interest there?

{{FirstName}}, Curious if your clients ever ask for branded merch as a marketing strategy?

Asking because we work with agencies like {{currentCompany}} as a logistical partner to provide any merch item you can think of.

Any need there?

Strategy: Local

Use local intel about a city to create familiarity and make a script more authentic. The CTA can even ask for an in-person meeting. LinkedIn is also a great channel for sharing invitations to local networking events.


Hey {{firstName}}! We're hosting a networking dinner/discussion in NYC for local ecomm brands (like Nars Cosmetics, Ted Baker, Bally) and industry marketing leaders, and would love to see you there.
Any interest? Happy to connect here either way!

Hi {{prospect.first_name}}, keen to meet more Salt Lake locals. Is your SEO driving business at {{}}? I'm hoping to share a few case studies and get on your radar as a partner. 

Can we connect?

What is a good reply rate from a LinkedIn cold message?

We have conducted hundreds of LinkedIn campaigns for clients over the last 3 years to develop these success benchmarks. 

(Note that these results relate to custom connection messages, not InMail or Direct Messages with people you are already connected with). 

  • 20-50% connection rate. If you are below this number, consider adjusting your target persona to be more specific or only going after people of a similar seniority as you. Make sure that your profile is current, branded, and professional. It’s likely that prospects will check out your profile before adding you to their network. 
  • 5-10%+ reply rate. If you contact 100 people and get 10 real replies, you are running a healthy campaign. If your response rate is lower than that, try going more “soft” by sharing resources or asking questions, instead of pushing for a meeting, demo, etc.