“Man, I wish more people would cold DM me.”— No one, ever.
I don’t know about you, but my DMs have been flooded with people offering to “help” me either grow my audience, double my revenue from social media, or hit $10k a month.
Sounds great, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want these things (unless you already make more than $10k a month)?
So every time a random stranger with zero social proof and a clearly copy-and-pasted message DMs me, I eagerly respond to learn more about how they can help me.
JK. I leave those scrubs on read.
The issue is, some of them may well have a great offer, legitimately want to help me, and have a track record for success.
But I don’t know that, and I don’t know them.
Like a random missionary knocking on my door trying to convert me, I slam the door in their face and go about my heathen lifestyle, blissfully ignorant of whatever brand of salvation they’re trying to hock.
Relationships are everything when it comes to succeeding as a creator, but most people suck at building their network because they treat DMing like a numbers game—just spam enough people’s accounts with enough cold DMs and eventually, someone will respond and convert.
This is a horrific strategy that will leave a trail of burned bridges in your wake.
Luckily, there’s a way better approach to building your network and getting people to actually open your DMs.
So if you want to stop getting doors slammed in your face or being left on read, stop doing cold outreach.
Try the 7-step system I use to build my network by sending “warm” DMs…
Step 1: Make a list of people you want in your circle.
Who would you love to be able to call a friend, collaborator, or mentor?
Who would you love to have an open channel of communication with?
Whose number (or WhatsApp) would you love to have?
These people go on your list.
Step 2: Research them.
Look at their top posts.
Visit their website and explore:
- Their bio
- Articles they’ve written
- Interviews they’ve done
- Other content they’ve created
Treat it like you’re going to interview them for a podcast.
Step 3: Interact with them on social media.
“Agreed” or “Good point” are horrible comments.
Your goal is to:
- Add valuable insights
- Show interest/expertise
- Continue the conversation
Comment something meaningful on their posts.
Step 4: Stay consistent and build your reputation.
If you consistently leave high-quality comments, they’ll start recognizing you when your name pops up in their notifications.
Now they’re primed (aka, warmed up) for you to reach out with a DM.
Step 5: Review your research.
Reference something they’ve done recently or that really resonated with you.
Interviews, articles, courses, etc.
This lets them know you’re familiar with their work and not just some schmuck wanting to “pick their brain.”
We love when people are interested in us, so this is your time to shine.
Step 6: Don’t pitch. Collaborate.
Always lead with value.
“I saw you talk about X. Here’s an article you might like on it.”
“I love what you’re doing with X. I’m in a similar space with Y and wanted to connect.”
“Your course helped me get X result, here’s what I’m doing now.”
Use this as an opportunity to form a genuine connection with them.
Step 7: Be patient.
People are busy, so they may not see your DM right away.
I’ve literally had people respond to my DMs 9 months later.
Just keep nurturing the relationship by adding high-value comments on their public posts.
Because one of two things will happen…
- They eventually reply to your DM or follow you back (woot!).
- They don’t reply, but you gain a ton of followers because people who follow the larger account have been reading all your high-value comments under their posts.
You win either way.
Just remember one thing…
The art of warm DMing people ISN’T about being transactional.
It’s about forming genuine connections with people you admire and want to surround yourself with.
Bonus Tip 1: Do cool shit and talk about it.
That way, when people click on your profile and look through your recent posts, they’ll see stuff that will make them actually want to follow you back.
Bonus Tip 2: Take it off social media.
You’ll deepen your relationship with an internet friend 10x if you set up a call with them instead of only ever talking via text. But people are busy and a call is a logistical commitment. Now, anytime I pitch setting up a Zoom coffee chat, I do two things:
1. I give them an out.
Let me know if you’re down to chat sometime—Zoom or just async like this.
Most of the time, even busy people will be down to jump on a call IF YOU’VE FOLLOWED THE ABOVE STEPS by nurturing the relationship, providing value, and genuinely giving a shit about them and trying to help them out.
But if not, you’ve left the door open for async communication.
2. If they’re down for a call, I let them control the time.
Do you have a Calendly or anything? If so, send it my way and I’ll book a time.
Most people appreciate having the freedom to just shoot you a link to a calendar they’ve already set up for meetings. They don’t have to fit into your availability (you hit them up, remember? So it’s your job to be flexible around their availability) and there’s no time wasted going back and forth on which day and time (and timezone) works best.
Bonus Tip 3: “But Corey, what if their DMs are closed?”
Do all the steps up until that point.
If you’re consistently interacting with them in a high-quality way, they’ll eventually probably follow you back (which usually opens their DMs).
Obviously, follower count is largely a vanity metric.
There are tons of people doing big shit who have a low follower count (which actually makes this whole process way easier because they’re easier to reach—I can go deeper on this concept another day if there’s enough interest).
But when I had a few hundred followers on Twitter, and even now I have under 5k, I’ve built solid relationships with incredible creators with this method. Some are doing big shit outside Twitter but have a low follower count, others are doing big shit and have 300k followers.
Do cool shit. Warm DM people. Build legitimate connections. Always lead with value. Expect nothing in return. Just try to put more good out into the world.
You can’t lose when you try to help other people reach their potential.