Any salesperson will tell you: cold calling is a fine art. It takes perseverance, confidence and insight to be successful. While this approach can be extremely effective in finding the ideal qualified sales lead, too many B2B marketers fall prey to mistakes that could easily be avoided.

Now with the advent of LinkedIn, cold calling has a new spin: cold contacting. This is the adding of another person on LinkedIn without actually knowing them personally. The site is set up to give you access to dozens, if not hundreds, of new prospects. But before you begin your B2B social media outreach efforts, make sure you know these top five deal-breakers for LinkedIn cold contacting.

  1. Contacting People With Whom You Have Nothing In Common
  2. If you can’t find common ground with this prospect through past relationships, or future partnerships, don’t waste their time. Cold contacting is challenging enough without adding the awkwardness of no logical connection. Think about it. If you were pitching a feature story to a newspaper about a hair and makeup salon, would you contact the sports editor?

  3. Making Assumptions About Prospect Behavior
  4. Everyone knows that old familiar adage about assuming. Well, it’s especially relevant with LInkedIn cold contacting! While it may seem reasonable to expect a prospect to respond to your invitation, sometimes their interest (or response) is just not in the cards.

    That said, don’t let flagging response rates affect your confidence or your motivation. The law of averages ensures that if you keep up your cold contacting using good manners, valuable information and good old-fashioned persistence, you will see success!

  5. Forgetting That Your LinkedIn Invitation is an Interruption
    • Use good manners
    • Don’t be pushy
    • Cut to the chase
    • Thank them for their time
  6. Never forget that every cold contact is, on the most basic level, an imposition. Face it: your prospects are busy. They have important responsibilities just like you do. The knowledge that you are interrupting their day should not be lost in your message. So when reaching out, remember:

    Also, let your prospects know why you want to link to them! Use shared contacts as a launching board, e.g. “I see that you know Richard. I’ve done work for him in the past and thought I could help you in a similar fashion…”

  7. Not Making It Worth Their While
  8. What will this person benefit from linking with, connecting to, or referring you? If you offer something in return for their connecting with you on LinkedIn, they’ll be more likely to respond in a positive way.

    Try suggesting contacts you know who might be helpful for their purposes, or sharing your knowledge and experience within your industry that they may find valuable. You get the idea. Time is valuable, and in exchange for your prospects’ time and attention there should be some sort of incentive.

  9. Neglecting to Use a Personal Touch
  10. Remember, cold contacting is based on the simple premise that you want to make an instant connection. With that in mind, make sure all your invitations have a personal tone. Don’t rely on canned invites; instead, target your message toward each person in a unique way.

    Of course, you can send similar prospects similar invitations – but remember, you aren’t the only motivated lead generation professional contacting them. That being the case, you need to do what you can to separate yourself from the crowd.

With more than 100 million members, LinkedIn is a potential B2B marketing goldmine. So by all means use it to get your foot in the door, then follow-up with regular contacts via phone or email.

Above all, remain mindful of your prospects’ time and interest. Keeping that in the back of your mind while following the tips above will almost certainly yield a boost in the qualified sales leads within your sales funnel.