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One of your colleagues recently asked:

Do cold messages ever work? I’m constantly getting them in my LinkedIn Inbox and also on LinkedIn. I never reply to any of them. 

What a great question! Cold direct messages, or DMs, tend to get a bad rep.


Because people often send cold messages without giving it much thought. They don’t take the time to build relationships first, so they’re taking a shot in the dark and hoping someone replies to their pitch.

But with the right approach, cold DMs do actually work.

I’m going to share my approach and explain why it’s so important to focus on relationship-building if you do want them to work. 👇

Before we can get into that, there is some housekeeping that must take place. 

1. Get Your Profile in Order

Before you start focusing on building relationships, take the time to audit your LinkedIn profile. 

👉 Is it up to date? 

👉 Is your headshot current?

👉 What kind of content have you published? Does it establish yourself as an authority or expert?

Remember that your profile is an extension of yourself, so treat it with the same attention to detail you would give yourself if you were attending a networking event. When people visit your profile, they should get the impression that you’re an experienced professional.

2. Focus on Building Relationships

So, here’s the secret to getting cold messages to work for you – focus on building relationships. Get to know the contact. Don’t make it just about yourself.

(And yes, a pitch is about you, not them.)

Think about it on a basic level – would you want to continue engaging with someone who only talks about themselves? Probably not.

Relationships are two-way streets. Make it about them. And if it naturally leads to a sales conversation, great. But make sure that you’re not approaching conversations with this intention. 

3. Tailor Your Messages

In order to start building relationships and improve response rates, you need to tailor your messages to the individual. Don’t send the same generic, cookie-cutter messages to everyone. 

  • Mention something specific to the individual in your message. Maybe ask a question about the content they posted or their work history.
  • Consider sending a video or voice message. It’s rare for people not to reply to video or voice messages.
  • If you’re going the email route, make your subject lines engaging. Longer subject lines get 24.6% higher response rates.

Sending personalized messages will help boost your response rate and allow you to start building relationships with the people you contact.

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Learning how to prospect on LinkedIn, Twitter (X), email or any other platform means mastering how to talk to people. You need to grab the person’s attention and keep the conversation going.


🛑 Ask open-ended questions. 🛑 

If the question can be answered with a simple yes or no, it won’t elicit the same response as asking them:

  1. How they got into their field
  2. What goals they have
  3. What projects they’re currently working on

Open-ended questions are a great way to show someone that you are interested in them and want to forge a deeper business relationship.

5. Treat It Like a Networking Event

Cold messages should be treated the same as a networking event.

You want to use personalized messages because they show that you’re real.

Don’t try making a sale – you wouldn’t at an event.

Instead, you need to:

  • Treat the person like they matter
  • Network and get to know the person
  • Put business on the back burner as you nurture the relationship

Treating your cold DMs – or emails – like a networking event will produce greater business relationships than trying to push a sale on a person.

6. Follow-Up

There’s a saying that says the money is in the follow-up, and that’s absolutely true.If you’re afraid to follow up on cold messages, you’ll struggle to grow your firm

I keep a list of prospects who message me saying they want to schedule a discovery call.


Because after I send my calendar link, I want to be sure they schedule an appointment.

People are busy and not everyone will schedule with you right away, EVEN if they’ve shown interest.

So, once someone says that want to schedule a call, here’s the process I encourage you to take: 

  1. Add the individual to your CRM (Excel or the like work just as well)
  2. Track if they schedule an appointment 
  3. Follow up 2 – 3 times (spread over time)

Sending a few follow-ups is common and can make a huge difference in response rates.

That’s a wrap on this Dear Katie question.


Now I want to hear from you. Do you have a question? 

Submit it here

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