LinkedIn is undoubtedly the most important online network you should be using.
It can help with your immediate job search and your longer term career, and having a large number of LinkedIn connections is important to your success.
But it also come with its downsides too.
In this article we cover:
- The benefits of having more LinkedIn connections
- How to make LinkedIn connections like a networking expert
- A word of warning: There are downsides to having a lot of LinkedIn connections (1,000+)
So before we look at how to make more LinkedIn connections, let’s first take a look at why you should make more LinkedIn connections…
1. The benefits of having more LinkedIn connections;
There are three primary reasons why you would want more connections on LinkedIn
- To find others
- To be found
- Greater credibility
Using LinkedIn to find others
LinkedIn works as a network.
This means that you can contact people who are in your existing network, but you cannot contact people who are outside of your network (unless you pay to use LinkedIn Premium).
The more people you have in your direct network (1st degree connections) means the more people you have in your wider network (2nd and 3rd degree connections).
This means you have access to many more people, many more decision makers, and many more potential employers.
Having a large LinkedIn network benefits you through enhanced search results.
Say you want to find recruiters who specialise in your niche.
You perform a search on LinkedIn which returns a certain number of results. If you perform that same search but your network of connections is twice as big, then your search will return a higher number of results.
This means you can now approach more recruiters and employers in your niche and your chances of finding work have increased.
Using LinkedIn to be found
- More connections naturally means more profile views, which means more people are looking at you. Excellent news if you are searching for a new job.
- Your profile will show up more often in the search results of other LinkedIn members. This is because search results prioritise people who are in the network of the searcher. So if your network is bigger, you get prioritised in the searches of more people. This puts you in the spotlight more often, and for searches relating to your skills and expertise.
- More LinkedIn connections means a greater audience to read all your status updates, profile changes, published articles, etc. The more connections you have, the more people will see your news, messages and articles.
- As you have a larger audience, you will naturally get more engagement on any of your updates or published articles, including ‘likes’ and comments on anything that you may post or publish. This subjects your message to an even wider audience and helps develop social proof to support your expertise in your chosen field.
- If you run your own website or blog, and you have this included on your LinkedIn profile, you will see an increase in traffic. This is particularly true if you publish articles and include links to your site in the article.
- Similarly with links to other social networks – a greater LinkedIn network will translate into a greater network on your other social sites. Whether or not his is a good thing depends very much on the sector you work in and what your type of work is (for example, if you work in social media, you will want to connect all your social profiles as much as possible).
Gain greater credibility
Having more LinkedIn connections means you will get more endorsements on the key skills you have highlighted.
Having a series of skills with a high number of endorsements provides a strong message to recruiters and potential employers. Be sure to match the skills you highlight on your LinkedIn profile with those you include on your resume / CV.
And the more people look at you, the more chance you have of your profile becoming one of the ‘most viewed’ profiles in your network.
This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because you’re on the list of the most viewed profiles in your network, you will get more profile views! Which in turn leads to all the other benefits already described.
So you should now be able to see the benefits of having more LinkedIn connections. Now let’s look at how to make connections on LinkedIn like a networking expert.
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2. How to make LinkedIn connections like a networking expert
There are various things you can do to make new connections on LinkedIn, and they have varying degrees of success.
You can read ‘How to use LinkedIn to help with your job search’ to understand some of the basic actions to take, and read on to find out more advanced techniques.
Invite your real network
Think about all the people that you currently work with and invite them. This can be colleagues, partners, suppliers or customers.
Then do the same for all the people that you have worked with in previous roles.
You can also do the same for contacts you studied with, or have met on training courses, or at networking events.
Mine your email address book
LinkedIn has a functionality to search contacts from your Outlook / Gmail / Yahoo / other email provider.
Once LinkedIn has searched your address book, you need to confirm that you want the invitations to be sent.
You should review the invitations, rather than sending blindly, as you may have emailed some addresses over the years that simply do not make sense to be sending a LinkedIn connection invitation to (e.g. a service or helpdesk email address).
Also, do not send an invitation to anyone who is not a member of LinkedIn. There is a limit to the number of connection invitations you can send on LinkedIn, and you don’t want to waste them on non-members!
(The limit is 3,000. Yes it’s a lot. But you never know – you may reach this figure over the duration of your career).
If you publish a decent article on LinkedIn you should get viewers, people who comment, and people who ‘like’. All this, in turn, spreads your article to a wider audience.
And naturally, people who like what you write will either invite you to connect or follow you.
‘Like’ and comment on other peoples’ articles
Being an active user maintains your profile in the newsfeed of other users.
And if your comments are actually useful and relevant, rather than pointless, you will attract more people who want to connect with you.
Be careful about what you ‘like’ or write in your comments though. ‘Liking’ irrelevant pictures or adding useless comments can be just as effective at getting people to delete you as a connection.
LinkedIn is considered a professional networking site, rather than a social networking site, so ‘liking’ pictures of cute cats, for example, is not going to go down well with serious connections.
Take part in group conversations
You’re already a member of relevant groups, as our article on the basics of using LinkedIn suggests.
Now you need to take part and engage in the conversations that take place in these groups.
Not only does this increase your visibility in your field, and increases your reputation as someone who gets involved, it also leads to more connection invitations and more relevant contacts.
Become a LION
LION stands for ‘LinkedIn Open Networker’. You may often see people on LinkedIn with ‘LION’ written after their ‘name’ field, or in their ‘professional headline’.
This means that they are open to receiving invitations from anyone and they will always accept.
If you decide to become a LION you can expect to start receiving invitations from people you do not know. You need to weigh up the benefits of this (as outlined above) versus the downsides of this (as outlined below).
You can perform a quick search for the term ‘LION’ and then simply invite the results to connect with you. You can be pretty sure that most will connect, since they are advertising themselves as an open networker.
But there are some LIONs who have conditions to being a connection with you, such as sharing your connections with them, or only accepting personalised invitations.
So think before you send the invitation, and consider if there are any conditions that you are not comfortable with (e.g. opening up your connections).
Most LIONs will be comfortable with accepting invitations from strangers.
But not all LinkedIn users are.
When accepting an invitation from a stranger it is possible to flag this to LinkedIn by responding with ‘I don’t know this person’ instead of accepting the invitation (this is often referred to as IDK). If you get too many people IDK’ing your invitations you may get blacklisted by LinkedIn.
Join LION groups
There are a number of LION groups that you can join on LinkedIn (e.g. TopLinked.com, LION Network, LION500.com, OpenNetworker.com).
Being a member of these implies that you are open to invitations, so you will receive a bunch.
Similarly, you can reasonably assume that other members of these groups are also open to invitations, so you can almost always go ahead and send an invitation to them.
But…check first for any conditions or requirements to avoid upsetting anyone.
Very simply, add something like ‘open to all invites’ or ‘accepts all invites’ along with your name or in your professional headline and you will start to receive invitations.
This is a nice easy way to regularly receive connection invitations with very little work involved (simply accept the invitations).
But beware, you may not want to connect with everyone that sends you an invite so be sure to review each invitation carefully.
TopLinked.com is a service dedicated to building bigger networks, not only on LinkedIn but on social media platforms too (such as Facebook, Google+, etc.)
You can pay to register your email address with TopLinked, which means that you will receive lots of invitations from people who access the TopLinked database.
However, you can also invite up to 1,800 connections for free, and it takes only 10 minutes to do.
That’s a lot of instant contacts.
By registering with TopLinked, you gain access to the email addresses of 1,800 paid members who want their email addresses to be shared with people like you, so you will sent them a connection invitation.
Simply download the 1,800 email addresses, then import them to LinkedIn and send out the invitations. Brace yourself for a barrage of direct messages saying “thanks for the invite” and trying to get you to buy / sign-up for something over the next couple of days!
There are pros and cons to using TopLinked:
You can’t choose the email addresses and therefore connections that you invite, so there may be lots of invitations you send to people who are not particularly relevant to you or your line of work.
You need to make a judgement call on whether the benefits of having a large network of LinkedIn connections outweigh the downsides.
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3. A word of warning: There are downsides to having a lot of LinkedIn connections (1,000+)
Having a large network of LinkedIn connections definitely has benefits. But there are some downsides too.
- Your newsfeed gets completely full. Unless every connection only posts messages that you are interested in (very unlikely) you will find that there are a lot of unrelated posts clogging up your newsfeed. This can make it difficult to spot the good stuff, such as someone advertising a role that suits you perfectly.
- You tend to get inbox spam from people who want to promote their latest book, or product, or service.
- You will get connection invitations from people completely unrelated to your field, industry, job or interests, simply because you have a lot of connections.
- Your ‘people you may know’ feed becomes full of people that you definitely do not know! As a result, you may lose out on genuinely strong networking opportunities because they never reach this feed.
- You may get requests for introductions to other people in your network that you’re not comfortable facilitating. This can be a delicate situation if you don’t know the requestor. You probably don’t want to be introducing strangers to your genuine network connections. But you may offend the requestor by saying no. The secret is to be open, honest and polite, and explain that you don’t normally introduce people you do not know. They should understand. If they don’t and they get upset with you, delete them as a connection.
- It can dilute your credibility in your field. If you have 1,000’s of connections, but only a relatively small proportion of them are in your line of work, it is obvious that you are an open networker rather than a focused networker.
4. How to make LinkedIn connections like a networking expert: Summary
Overall, there are definitely benefits to having more LinkedIn connections, particularly as it increases your ability: to find others; to be found; and gives you greater credibility.
As a job searcher, this is invaluable, and you should definitely work on developing your LinkedIn network using some of the techniques outlined above.
However, there is definitely a point of diminishing returns. Once you reach a certain number of connections, adding more connections probably doesn’t add much further benefit, especially if they are ‘low value’.
This figure is difficult to define, but 1,500 LinkedIn connections seems to be the point of diminishing returns (of course, this figure will be different for different people, depending on their objectives).
You may want to think carefully about adding many more additional connections above this figure just for the sake of adding more connections (unless of course they are ‘high value’ connections).
So now you know how to make LinkedIn connections like a networking expert – get networking!
You can start by following the Job Search Bible on LinkedIn!