As a small business owner or entrepreneur, building an effective team is critical to your success. With over 645 million members, LinkedIn provides unparalleled access to qualified professionals across nearly every industry – making it a top channel to leverage when looking to make strategic hires for your growing company.
However, simply posting a job listing is unlikely to land you the perfect candidate. Instead, the most effective approach is to directly reach out to professionals who match the skills, experience and values you’re looking for. As an entrepreneurship consultant who regularly advises small business founders on strategic hiring approaches, I‘ve seen direct LinkedIn outreach lead to finding amazing talent and leaders that drive sustainable growth.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my top tips for entrepreneurs on how to successfully reach out to your ideal candidates on LinkedIn.
Step 1: Create a Magnetic LinkedIn Presence
Just as you would spruce up your physical office space before a job interview, take time to optimize your LinkedIn presence first. This establishes credibility and gives candidates a compelling sense of your company culture right from your profile.
Highlight Your Story
Your LinkedIn headline and about section offer valuable real estate to share what motivates you as a founder and leader – use it! According to LinkedIn’s research, 66% of candidates say a company’s employer brand heavily influences their interest.
Weave in what inspired you to start your company, how your products/services solve real problems, and what plans or vision you have for the future. This gives candidates a compelling narrative to emotionally connect with from the very start.
Example of effective storytelling in LinkedIn profile (Image credit: LinkedIn Talent Blog)
Showcase Your Culture
Help candidates visualize if they would be a good culture fit for your team by bringing your values and work environment to life. Share photos from team events, employee testimonials, community service projects or casual office spaces. Video is especially effective here – give a virtual office tour or have employees share what they enjoy about working there.
Culture conveys what everyday working life looks like at your company. The more you can preview the experience for candidates, the easier it will be to find ones already aligned with your mission and environment.
Example of company culture section (Image credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions)
Step 2: Research Your Target Candidate
With your LinkedIn presence complete, it’s time to seek out your ideal candidates. Avoid blasting generic messages to every connection – instead, be strategic by thoroughly researching each individual first.
Review Their full Profile
Carefully study their profile section by section – don’t just skim! As you learn about their experience, skills and interests, note down specifics you can reference when reaching out. This may include companies they worked for, special projects listed, technology platforms they use, leadership roles they held, etc.
Look for shared connections, groups or past companies you have in common as well to establish common ground.
Understand Their Motivations
Explore their posts, articles shared, groups engaged in and media they follow to gain insight into what matters most to them professionally. Are they passionate about mentoring younger team members? Identifying solutions for climate change? Working for companies with flexible remote options?
Use these motivational insights to tailor how you position the role and connect it clearly with what drives them. With over 63% of candidates requiring alignment between personal purpose/values and employer brand before applying for a job, this is vital context for your outreach.
Step 3: Craft a Personalized Message
Once you’ve researched your candidates and identified good matches, it’s time to reach out. Avoid template outreach language – personalize your invite instead.
Open With a Custom Header
Acknowledge something unique you noticed about them – perhaps admiring an extensive specialization, success story they posted or passion area they show commitment to. This immediately signals you did more than blast 100 people with a generic message.
Describe The Role Appeal
Next, transition into spotlighting the role itself you envision them excelling in. But rather than a bland job description, frame it around motivations you uncovered in researching them.
For example, if leadership development matters to them, describe how they would mentor and train more junior employees in this position. Or if work flexibility is a draw, highlight your openness to a hybrid remote schedule. Make it instantly clear how this opportunity aligns with their individual passions and aspirations.
Close With Next Steps
Finally, close by proposing meeting for coffee or a phone call to further discuss fit. Offer enthusiasm for learning more about them while summarizing the compelling alignment you see between their abilities and your company mission. Provide multiple methods they can easily contact you if interested in moving forward.
Here’s an example outreach message incorporating these elements:
I noticed on your profile extensive experience in digital campaign management and leading high-performing teams – very impressive! I lead Acme Co., a growing 50-person startup aiming to make healthcare access easier through our virtual care app. We’re searching for a Head of Marketing to scale our user growth, and I immediately thought of you given your background. This role would allow you to oversee mentorship initiatives you seem passionate about from past posts I read. Would you be open to discussing over coffee later this month? I have availability on the 16th or 23rd if either works well. Looking forward to hopefully learning more!
Follow Up Politely
Sometimes your outreach will lead to an instant reply and next steps…other times, you may not hear back right away. Don’t take it personally! Follow up once more expressing continued enthusiasm.
If you still don’t hear back after another message, simply move on knowing you gave it your best effort. Not every candidate will be the right fit no matter how qualified and aligned they seem on paper. Patience and gracefully accepting of rejection or non-response is critical in the pursuit of building an A-player team.
Just remember, a warm, personalized invitation can spark incredible talent to take interest they otherwise may have missed if you stayed passive. By implementing these tips as an entrepreneur looking to grow your LinkedIn network into star candidates, you’ll be well on your way to accelerating success through strategic hiring.