BLKNS Academy is now live!
Learn more

How to set up and run an effective LinkedIn outreach campaign

Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Reading time:14 m

B2B companies that don’t include LinkedIn outreach in their marketing mix miss out on huge opportunities given that this social network boasts over 58 million business profiles.

Even so, many businesses that do use LinkedIn struggle to generate leads and conversions through this platform. But why? Typically, poor decisions end up undermining their efforts and yielding underwhelming results:

  • Inferior leads due to an undefined target audience
  • Low reply rate because of generic outreach messages 
  • Blocked account due to too much automation or gray techniques

As with any outreach, a good grasp of platform specifics will help you avoid these pitfalls. In this blog post, we’ll share our hands-on pieces of advice coming from providing B2B LinkedIn marketing services to our clients from 50+ industries. Also, you’ll find here tried-and-tested message templates to improve your outreach efforts and achieve better results.

Is LinkedIn outreach effective for lead generation?

Of all the B2B lead generation strategies, LinkedIn outreach is one of the most productive approaches(277% more effective than Twitter and Facebook for B2B lead generation). Though home to top business decision-makers, LinkedIn is still a social network. This means people are more open to getting messages from strangers and engaging in conversation here than in cold emails.

Out of 900 million users on LinkedIn, 65 million are decision-makers, and 10 million are C-level executives. Almost half of them interact with the platform daily. These stats make LinkedIn the perfect place to do meaningful networking, which can drive hundreds and thousands of leads if you follow the proven steps from this post.

Your LinkedIn page can become your brand’s hub, providing a wealth of information about your business, value propositions, and industry credentials to impact high-profile buyers’ decisions. Using the same network to reach your B2B prospects is only logical.

What is the conversion rate for LinkedIn outreach? 

The conversion rate for LinkedIn outreach depends on your profile awareness and SSI (social selling index). On a good account, you would have around 5% to 10% conversion from invite to connect. Using InMail brings a bit lower results, but still in the same spectrum.

With the right approach, you can quickly fill in all slots in your calendar with meetings. But first, make sure to do the math to determine how many contacts you need to reach out to in order to hit your goal. 

You can’t send emails to 3 companies and expect results. To start getting positive responses, you need to increase the number of recipients. Out of 100 prospects<, only 3 will respond.

Michael Maximoff, co-founder of Belkins

Once you figure out your number, you can start collecting data and reaching out.

Make sure you have the basics in place from the start so that everything goes smoothly in the later stages.

What makes a solid LinkedIn outreach strategy?

The difference between LinkedIn outreach and cold emailing is that the prospect can immediately check your profile, background, and connections to decide if they want to keep up the conversation — directly or via interaction with your posts or comments. 

1. LinkedIn profile optimized for outreach

For a successful campaign, start by setting up a LinkedIn profile with all elements showing your best professional side: 

  • A cover that sells your core service
  • Branding that looks up to date and trustworthy
  • A network of followers relevant to your expertise
  • Employees’ profiles connected to the company page
  • Clear, accessible contact links
  • Utilized extra tabs: Products, Jobs, Life, Videos, etc. 
  • Fresh, engaging posts and videos 
  • Social proof in the company description

LinkedIn Profile Optimized for Outreach

When setting up the company profile, use LinkedIn’s guides and hints. 

LinkedIn Guides and Hints

Platform algorithms love completed profiles, so you set yourself up for the best possible reach by checking all their boxes. This same principle applies to your personal profile.

A good practice is to match the position on your profile to the level of the people you are targeting. For example, reach out to VPs and CEOs from a Head of Sales or BizDev Director profile. Otherwise, the chances that C-level people will accept an SDR’s request are slim.

Watch this video from Belkins’ YouTube for a quick rundown of our best practices for LinkedIn B2B outreach.

2. Straight cold outreach mixed with warming-up interactions

Should you send direct messages or slide into people’s comments sections? Do both.

Everyone is different. Some reply well to interactions, while others prefer to get straight to business. From the marketer’s end, these approaches differ in the time spent on the prospects. Cold outreach is faster but garners more rejection, whereas interaction takes more time but fosters connection.

Here, for example, a specialist replies to the contact’s question, immediately providing a solution. This builds up their reputation as knowledgeable and helpful: 

Cold Outreach Mixed With Warming Up

A combination of both approaches performs best. See if you can engage a social media specialist or your content department to take on the social selling and leave the direct outreach to your SDRs and lead gen managers. 

3. Established and consistent social selling 

Build up your online presence to show your expertise and establish yourself as a part of the narrative in your industry of choice. Being constantly present in your prospect’s feed amplifies your outreach efforts and builds trust even before you reach out to them.

Check out your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) to evaluate your social selling level. It’s a score between 1 and 100 that tells you how effective you can be at LinkedIn-based sales efforts. It focuses on your network-building and engagement factors.

Log in to your LI account and then follow this link: https://www.LinkedIn.com/sales/ssi. Here you will see your index and its components and find out your areas in need of improvement.

SSI Index Example

Higher SSI increases your visibility on the platform and is made up of 4 factors:

  • Establishing professional presence
  • Finding the right people
  • Engaging with insights
  • Developing relationships

Though the SSI is more of a vanity metric, it reflects the same elements you need to run successful outreach campaigns. Think of it as your barometer to check if the weather is good to start reaching out.

LinkedIn outreach techniques

The LinkedIn outreach process itself is straightforward. You collect the contact info of your potential buyers and then message them your value proposition. Hopefully, they show interest and move down the funnel by way of your SDRs and account managers.

Yet these 2 stages — finding the leads and reaching out to them — are not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of trial and error to get to worthwhile conversion rates.

Here are some actionable tips, tricks, and techniques we at Belkins use to get the best results for our clients.

Finding the leads

  • Join relevant groups. These are great for understanding customers’ needs and generating inbound leads. Here you can show your buyers that you not only know their problems but can actually solve them.

Joining Groups on LinkedIn

  • Check the “People also viewed” section. It appears on the right of any prospect’s profile and lists similar people or companies.

People Also Viewed on Linked In

  • Check competitors’ networks. Search their connection lists for people who fit your target persona. And if your competitors have turned off their connections visibility, you can still find potential leads through the comments and reactions on their posts. Look through the job roles of those who reacted, skip the ones that look like company employees, and find contacts that may be clients.

Tracking Competitors on LinkedIn

Tracking Competitors on LinkedIn 2

  • Search the comments. Go to high-engagement industry-related postings and send invitations to relevant commenters. When choosing, match their roles and companies to your target persona. 

People Commenting on LinkedIn

Reaching the people

  • Connection requests. To connect with people and be able to send them direct messages, you must first send a connection request. You can send it with or without a short note. Mind that the note will benefit you only if it is highly personalized. Connection requests and notes go to the “My Network” tab in the recipient’s profile.

Personalized Connection Note

  • Direct messages. Once you connect with someone, you can send direct messages. This is the most traditional way to do LinkedIn outreach. Direct messages fall into the “Focused” messaging folder, the same as InMail messages.
  • InMail messages. This is a paid feature that allows you to send direct messages to people without an established connection. They come in handy when your prospects reject your connection requests. With InMail, you can reach their inboxes once more to get a response.
  • Message requests. LinkedIn message requests are messages you may send to people in shared groups or attending the same events as you. They’re ideal for landing in prospects’ inboxes prior to connecting. Message requests land in the “Other” inbox folder.

Note that messages will go into different folders of your prospect’s LinkedIn cabinet depending on message type. All InMail messages come marked, and your recipient will know you’ve used the paid feature to reach them. 

Leveraging the moment 

  • Company-specific triggers for outreach. For example, it may be a startup getting funding, a company opening a new branch, or someone changing the status to “Hiring.” All of the above means the business has money to spend and may be interested in your offer.

Company Specific Triggers

For example, these software developers make a roundup of funded startups every month to offer their development services.

  • Industry-specific triggers. Some businesses (like farming) have consistent seasonal breakpoints for investments and growth, while others (like advertising) may tie their activities to certain industry events, such as big festivals. Research these specifics to see how they can enhance your outreach. 
  • Contact-specific triggers. Don’t let this chance slip when your ideal persona reveals a job change, gets featured in the news, or shares a particular pain. Share and comment on their post, or reach out privately to see if you can help them. 

Contact Specific Trigger Example

  • Profile-view triggers. Here’s a simple yet effective way to start a conversation with a prospective customer: If you see someone has checked your profile, get back to them, thank them for their attention, and mention that you will happily answer their questions. 

Profile View Trigger Example

How to reach out to leads on LinkedIn

You can start the outreach process once all your basics are in place and you have a good understanding of the platform’s options and limitations.

Step 1: Define your target audience — industries, companies, and personas

To make your LinkedIn outreach more effortless and profitable, create an ICP (ideal customer profile) for your business. The ICP describes the company that perfectly fits your product or solution.

An example of ICP:

The ICP example

When you sift through prospects on LI, comparing them to the ICP is a good litmus test to decide whether to pursue or pass on a particular lead. Being laser focused on the most promising prospects will save you effort on the next steps and yield the highest ROI.

Step 2: Put together your toolbox 

For the most efficient outreach, you need the right tools to save time and effort on tedious tasks. While your preferences may vary, we love these market leaders below. 

Ensure not to overdo automation; exceed LinkedIn’s limit for connection requests (80-100 per week), and the platform will temporarily restrict your profile.

You need to warm up your LinkedIn profile for outreach, just like you would warm up your email. Start slowly reaching out to people and getting your requests accepted, and week by week, LinkedIn will raise your request limit.

Step 3: Gather your LinkedIn leads 

Collect LinkedIn profiles of potential leads and scrape the data, such as name, job title, company, and contact information, if any is available. LinkedIn’s search engine is the easiest way to generate B2B leads. These advanced search tactics will help you:

  • Use filters to target your search. First, search a keyword: a title, company name, or term your leads discuss. Then, narrow down the results by applying filters such as location and school, current or previous company, people they follow, profile language, etc. 

Using Filters Search to Collect Leads on Linked In

  • Use Boolean search. Refine your findings with “and,” “or,” and “not” terms. For example, searching for “head of procurement NOT head of finance” returns only head of procurement profiles.
  • Automate search with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Set the new-lead alert on your searches and connect them to specific events, and you’ll get notified whenever a new profile matches your criteria.

Step 4: Export your leads to CSV

You can’t do it straight from LinkedIn Sales Navigator, so you must use a tool or plugin. One such tool is Dux-Soup, which allows you to export your leads to a CSV file.

Another option is to use Zapier, which can automate exporting your leads from LinkedIn Sales Navigator to a CSV file in Google Sheets or another platform.

Step 5: Gather your leads’ emails

There are several ways to match your leads with their emails:

  • Scraping contact info manually or using LinkedIn scraping tools
  • Searching the web for professional emails
  • Guessing the corporate email patterns

Unfortunately, scraping leads’ LinkedIn profiles for emails rarely works with C-level executives.

Web scraping and pattern guessing are OK, but be sure to comply with privacy laws and regulations when adding these email addresses to your list. Remember, you can only send prospecting messages to professional emails, not personal mailboxes.

To save time on this stage and keep your email list free of spam traps, consider using services that specialize in finding verified email addresses for your leads, such as Hunter.

Step 6: Upload your leads into your LinkedIn outreach tool 

Once your file is ready (with or without emails), upload it to your favorite LinkedIn automation tool. Some popular tools include LinkedHelperLaGrowthMachine, and Expandi. They help you streamline your outreach process and save time by automating specific tasks.

Linked in Outreach Tool

The upload process is pretty simple with most tools; import your file and match the columns with the ones expected.

Step 7: Create outreach sequences for different scenarios

Craft your LinkedIn outreach message based on what your prospects care about and the pain points and struggles they are mentioning.


  • Think of your outreach sequence as something rigid
  • Use the same message for all your leads


  • Test various templates and adjust them based on reactions
  • Use an array of value amplifiers to show your service from different angles
  • Be ready to work with the negative responses
  • Personalize messages to meet the needs and preferences of your target audience

Your goal is to speak the most appealing language when contacting your prospects.

Here is an exemplary sequence that we at Belkins used for one of our clients:

Wave 1

Hi {{FirstName}}! Happy to have you on my network.

Quick question: are you involved in any private student loan referral programs? If not, {{YourCompanyName}} has something in store for you.

Wave 2

Hi {{FirstName}}. Do you ever wonder how to expand your product offerings to meet the private student loan needs of {{community bank customers/credit union}} members who would otherwise turn to large bank competitors to help them pay for college? Because {{YourCompanyName}}’’s referral program tackles just that challenge.

Happy to gain more insights?

Wave 3

{{FirstName}}, you probably agree that paying for college might appear as a stressful experience for lots of families.

If you’re eager to deliver a best-in-class customer experience for students, graduates, and their families who finance higher education — {{YourCompanyName}} can support you in that mission and never compete with you for wallet share.

Open to learning more?

Wave 4

Hi {{FirstName}}. I’m curious about how many repayment options you currently offer to your customers/members.

{{YourCompanyName}}’s private student loan referral program allows borrowers to select from among four different repayment options, given their specific financial situation and budget.

Would you like to learn more?

Wave 5

Hi {{FirstName}}. I wanted to add that within our referral program, {{YourCompanyName}} also works collaboratively with your marketing teams to ensure that all outreach efforts include best-demonstrated private student loan industry practices that have proven effective with your customer base.

Any openings next week to go over the details?

Wave 6

{{FirstName}}, with {{YourCompanyName}}, families can find and structure their best loan with a 3-minute application, instant credit decision, and no fees to apply.

Will you be available for a chat sometime next week?

Find out more about creating effective cold outbound sequences in this episode of the Belkins Growth Podcast

Step 8: Send personalized messages

Here is a perfect example of how not to do LinkedIn outreach: 

Send out Personalized Messages  Bad Example

This message has all the usual mistakes. It starts with failing to mention the recipient’s name and ends with a soulless, generic proposition. A typo in the sender’s name is the cherry on top. Please don’t be like Danial.

How to do it right: 

  • Be graceful and succinct. 
  • Double-check your prospect’s name (and yours too). 
  • Talk about your recipient’s pain or something they did. 
  • Hint at your solution. 
  • Don’t try to squeeze all benefits into one message
  • Make it easy to get back to you.

Great Linked in Message Example

Step 9: Never get tired of following up 

Following up is a crucial part of sales. Statistics say that 80% of sales happen only after 4 to 5 contact attempts, but few salespeople reach this point.

Following up ensures you are top of mind when your prospect is finally ready to buy. So you want to make a rule to follow up with your leads at least 5 times before sending a “breakup” message. Even after that, you may want to stay in touch and interact with their posts and messages.

Step 10: Consider multichannel outreach

Developing a pattern to define the best combination of LinkedIn and email outreach is ideal. This pattern should include the frequency of follow-ups and the use of other channels. Each prospect may respond differently, so tracking and analyzing the results to optimize your outreach strategy is essential.

Step 11: Track all of your outreach efforts in a CRM

Tracking all of your outreach and storing the results in a CRM will ensure a better prospect experience. Keeping records straight eliminates double-outreach cases, which can irritate your leads.

Also, diligent tracking makes life easier for your marketers and sales representatives when transferring the database, onboarding new people, or coming up with a new, refined campaign.

Step 12: Enhance your outreach by meaningful social presence

People are not on LinkedIn to buy — they are there for advice, knowledge, and communication. If you give helpful recommendations, participate in dialogue, and generate valuable content, your prospects will engage with you at the earliest funnel stages and be more susceptible to your outreach efforts.

Learn more tactics for cultivating a LinkedIn presence that works in this episode of Belkins’ podcast with Andreas Jonsson, CEO of Shield, the LinkedIn growth app.

Bonus: Should you power cold outreach on LinkedIn with AI?

Though AI-powered tools for cold outreach on LinkedIn promise great reach and ease of use, they could be better.

You would want to avoid leaving your messaging to AI and risk pushing prospects away with depersonalized outreach. Besides, if you fail to control the number of message requests robots send, you will put your profile on LinkedIn’s anti-spam radars.

Rather than relying entirely on AI, we suggest adding it to the balanced tactic mix described above.

This is it! 

Remember that the goal of any LinkedIn campaign is to create trust and exchange information, not to sell. Once that framework is in place, you can begin moving high-value prospects through your funnel.

Keep your profile neat and professional, carefully filter the most eligible prospects, and reach out with highly personalized messaging. With these simple rules, you can fill your business pipeline with million-dollar deals.

Subscribe to our blog

Get the ultimate insights on the B2B trends and hands-on tips from sales professionals.

Agree to Privacy Policy by submitting data.
Orange ellipse
Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.