What’s a cold DM? 4 networking tips for sending a DM to your dream collaborator

We’ve all been there, you find someone super cool on LinkedIn and you really want to bring them into a project, but you have no idea how to even make an introduction. Here are my 4 networking tips for reaching out to someone via DM.

The good news is, you’re not alone! But there aren’t many networking tips around sending a DM. It’s actually pretty common practice, especially if you’re looking for new opportunities, to reach out to someone you don’t know in order to get some info and (hopefully) get one step closer to your goal.

Even if you have projects in progress, it’s still great to continue to build your network as you never know what X person at X company can do for you in the future, or what you can potentially do for them. After all, we believe that other freelancers are your collaborators, not your competition.

So after a great deal of trial and error, here are some of my best networking tips for reaching out to people via cold DM:

First, how is a cold DM different from a cold e-mail?

Good question! The two are very similar but e-mail tends to be more formal whereas a DM is a bit more casual, and even personal. With a DM, you don’t need a subject line and the receiver is likely to investigate your profile as well. So if you’re using a platform like Instagram for networking, it’s always good to make sure that there isn’t anything on your feed that could be deemed unprofessional by a potential collaborator.

1. Networking tips for introducing yourself

This person doesn’t know you so it’s always best to give a few details about yourself (i.e. name, job title, location, etc.) This helps the intro feel warmer and gives the receiver an opportunity to see if you have anything in common.

2. Providing context

Odds are you didn’t discover this person out of thin air. You may have stumbled across them on LinkedIn, seen them speak on a panel, or even found out about them through a mutual friend. Tell them how you know them to help give more context and make the reach-out feel more personalized.

3. Keeping it short

Direct messages are not meant to be long-winded paragraphs. Your intro should ideally be 1-2 sentences long, while your proposal should be around 2-3 sentences. You want to provide just the key info, and any extra details can be provided if they express interest.

4. Ending with a call to action

Sometimes the hardest part of a cold DM is the end. Tell them what you want them to do. Some examples include:

  • “Let me know if you’re interested.”
  • “Feel free to send your e-mail so we can coordinate further.”
  • “Let me know your availability.”

The TLDR  is: keep it friendly and make your intentions clear. 

In my experience, most people are flattered when someone comes to them asking for advice, but don’t always expect them to give you advice for free. It’s always good to see if there’s something you can offer in return for their time, such as your own knowledge or expertise.

Intimidation can sometimes be a challenging factor but it’s important to remember that this person is human too. Regardless of position or status, they probably have their own challenges they’re facing. The more you reach out to people you admire, the more you realize that these are just everyday people who have managed to find success. So don’t be scared. Happy networking!

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