I need you to take a minute and think about something: how generic are you?
Is the way in which you approach people the same, regardless of who they are?
How are you personalizing your outreach?
Let’s say you have 15 minutes to write a cold email to someone you really want to speak to…
- Do you have a reliable process to research and identify the right info (quickly)?
- If you find multiple connection points, do you know how to choose the strongest one?
Here’s how to create personal, relevant messages that connect (and get responses):
First up, the <5-minute research process:
- Visit the person’s LinkedIn profile.
- Read their About section. What stands out?
- Quickly scroll through the profile. What stands out?
- Click on their Activity feed and click on Posts.
- Quickly scroll through the feed. What stands out?
All you need are a couple of interesting data points.
The real skill, though, is figuring out which points to build around.
For that, here’s a general framework to rank your notes by strength:
Level One: Something about their company
- “We’re hiring” posts.
- Recent news.
- Recent product roll-outs.
Pros: These are easy to find.
Cons: They’re not that personal - they’re really about the company.
Level Two: Something about them, personally.
- Recent job changes.
- Recent news feature or media quote.
- A great recommendation calling out something specific.
Pros: These are more personal and still relatively easy to find.
Cons: They’re a little one-sided. It’ll show that you’ve done your research, but you’ve still got to establish your credibility and reason for connecting.
Level Three: Common ground.
- Common work experience.
- Common personal experiences + interests.
- Common friends.
Pros: These tend to be great conversation starters because they build rapport and help you connect at an identity level.
Level Four: Joining their conversations.
- Answering a question they asked in their posts.
- Asking about strong positive opinions they’ve demonstrated in their posts.
- Restarting older conversations they were involved in.
Pros: It’s hard to ignore you when you’re joining conversations they started. Plus, it’s often very easy to transition to why you’re reaching out. Bonus points if you screenshot their post and include it in the message.
Cons: This one doesn’t work if the person doesn’t post much or engage on LinkedIn.
I’ve found that using a research process + ranking framework can really help the quality of your conversations (without taking up time).
One last question:
Do you have a specific angle you like to look out for when you’re personalizing your outreach?
Take some steps to make your conversation more specific to the person you’re speaking to, and see your success rate soar.