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The Best Outreach Emails on LinkedIn Have This One Thing In Common

OK honest to gosh, y’all be killin’ me. I get a ton of unsolicited connection requests with the world’s worst outreach emails on LinkedIn. So many, that I’m inspired to write this article.

While it’s not directly marketing it kind of is because these ideas apply to outreach notes to influencers, bloggers, and potential brand partners.

Here’s the deal: Everything I know about good outreach I learned from my dog. I’m not saying to sniff people’s butts, but I’m not not saying that.

Discover the 5 keys to the most effective LinkedIn outreach emails:

1. Highlight similarities

My dog is a husky and her ears perk up when she sees another husky. Dogs like dogs similar to them. According to The Psychology of Persuasion, people also like people like themselves, and authority matters. Basically something as simple as informing your audience of your credentials before you speak increases the odds you will persuade the audience.

Apply it:

And so, one way to win people over with your email or LinkedIn connection request is to begin by sharing something you have in common: you went to the same school, you’ve been making something related to a hobby they have, you’re also in tech, their location, etc.

You should also take the time to build your authority by introducing your credentials or experience in a few words such as how many years of experience you have, successful companies you’ve worked at, your degree, data from a big win you had, etc.

Here’s an example of an outreach email that highlights similarities:

Example of a good LinkedIn outreach note
Both location and marketing were highlighted as similarities.

2. Flatter

My dog proactively compliments other dogs. It doesn’t matter where they are down the street, she wags her tail. People like being flattered too. Flattery is vital, because we strongly need guidance to develop beyond what we are right now. In other words, we need other people’s belief in us to bolster our capacities for reform and growth. So, complimenting people removes self-doubt, and makes them more receptive.

Apply it:

Find something to compliment the person you’re reaching out to on: their latest tweet, the way their website looks, an award they won, their Instagram photo aesthetic, etc.

Here’s an example of an outreach email that flatters:

Example of an outreach email on LinkedIn that users flattery
Ideally it would be a little more specific about what s/he loved.

3. Provide immediate value

My dog will often find a stick and offer it up as a mutual play toy. In this way, she’s bringing something positive for the other dog to enjoy right from the get go. The norm of reciprocity involves our obligation to return favors done by others; it requires that we repay in kind what another has done for us.

Apply it:

Provide value to the reader immediately, and they’ll be more indebted to you. You could share a recent news article and explain how it applies to their business; you could let them know about a broken link on their website; you could give them 3 tips for improving their website, etc.

If nothing else be sure to make the value you bring quantifiable, for example “Our clients typically see 2-6X performance increase in Y within the first few months.”

By the way, the way to provide value is not to mention the value your solution can bring. Do not do this:

Example of a bad LinkedIn outreach note
If someone ignores your first email, it’s not a great look to reference they already ignored you. “I failed, shall I fail again?”

Here’s an example of an outreach email that provides some value:

Outreach note that provide value by attaching a helpful guide
A helpful guide with information was attached.

4. Showcase connections

My dog checks out where the other dog has been. She wants to know what other dogs this dog has met. Social influence is the change in behavior that one person causes in another as a result of the way the changed person perceives themselves in relationship to the influencer.

Apply it:

See if you can find a peer proof angle. Do you have a connection in common? Mention how you know them. Have you worked with similar companies? Mention them.

Here’s an example of a peer proof email:

Make sure the person you reference has actually worked there or is a real connection – this person they mentioned was not!
Social influence is the change in behavior a person causes as a result of the way the changed person perceives themselves in relationship to the influencer. Call out people or companies you have in common in outreach emails. See 4… Click To Tweet

5. Make a specific ask

My dog bows to invite the other dog to play. This is a type of priming. Because it’s how many dogs initiate play, having seen this before multiple times, the dog knows what to expect. This is basically repetition priming at work. When a stimulus is experienced, it is also primed. This means that later experiences of the stimulus will be processed more quickly by the brain.

Apply it:

Since nearly forever emails have ended with a specific ask. So end with a clear ask using the most important words you’ve already used, again. Ideally you can get the person you’re reaching out to to state their goal or priority in their return response. That way in your next note you can align your pitch with that in mind, and make it harder for them to say no.

Christine Comaford, an author and expert on the subject of persuasion honed three phrases that are key for influence that you should try to use in your final call to action:

  1. “What if.” It removes ego from the discussion and creates a safe environment for curiosity and brainstorming. For example, “What if I sent over a few more ideas I have for X?”
  2. “I need your help.” This flips the roles of dominant and subordinate, engaging the other person. For example, “I need your help on X specific issue I’m having with our blog. Would you be willing to chat for 5 minutes?”
  3. “Would it be helpful if.” This phrase shifts the focus from the problem to the solution. ” For example, “Would it be helpful if I sent over 3 more ideas for X?”

Here’s an example of a LinkedIn email with a clear CTA:

Clear call to action in a LinkedIn outreach note
Ideally the CTA would be more specific by proposing a day and time – thus planting it in my head. But repeating my name was a good personalization trick. Almost like she put an ounce of effort into it – almost.

OK now that you know all the tricks, let’s take a look at how to put these tips for better blogger and LinkedIn outreach notes together a real-life example.

A real-life case study in blogger outreach emails that work:

One of the things I’ve been trying to do is get quality links back to one of the websites I work with. As part of that, I’ve been doing some outreach. Below are the two notes I used. While the first had about only a 10% response rate, the second one had nearly a 75% response rate.

The blogger outreach email that failed:

Hi Name, 

Noticed you have a great list of X blogs on your blog. Would you be willing to feature Y’s blog on your post? 

If so here’s a quick blurb to make it super easy – feel free to edit as you see fit: YYYYYY.

I’d also love to feature X on our list of great blogs to read for inspiration. Please let me know if you’d like to be featured!

What’s wrong based on what we learned:

  • Jumping too quickly into the ask without explaining what we have in common or providing any authority
  • Not ending with a CTA with any magic words
  • Making an ask before offering to provide the value

The blogger outreach email that increased responses by at least 50%:

Hi Name,

I was looking for some helpful {topic} advice blogs and came across your post XXX. It’s awesome! I love how you included {something cool about the post}.

Actually over at Y we have a list of great {topic} blogs to read for inspiration, too.

Let me know if you’d be willing to check it out! Would it be helpful if we feature your blog?

What’s wrong based on what we learned:

  • Still missing some authority
  • Missing social proof

Now send the best LinkedIn outreach emails and actually connect!

The one thing all good outreach notes share is that they know who they’re talking to. So stop mindlessly clicking “Connect” and put some effort into actually connecting.

Because hopefully you’ve learned something helpful, please send a $5 tip to my Venmo tip jar: @megsterr.

Up next, discover creative ways to use your company’s Zoom account.

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One way to get higher response rates to your LinkedIn outreach notes? Mention something you have in common such as a shared interest, location, or work experience. Get 4 more #marketingtips for effective emails here. Click To Tweet

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.