How to Expand Your Connections on LinkedIn

I would like to share with you why being connected with everyone you know on LinkedIn is important and how to increase your connections. Please know that my approach is based on good manners and treating people with respect, which means the principles I will explore are professional and relevant for businesses or those of you who are yet to unlock the power of LinkedIn for potential job opportunities.

When I am asked to review LinkedIn Profiles for an individual, or for a team in preparation for corporate training, I often discover professionals in the mid stage of their career who only have around 100 (or less) connections on LinkedIn. Given their age and experience I know that they probably know a LOT more people than this.

There are a number of reasons why they haven’t spent much time on their LinkedIn Profile, their partner set it up for them (!) or they are quite private or selective about who they want to be connected with.

What ‘Being Connected’ on LinkedIn Means

I believe this is a missed opportunity. Being connected with someone on LinkedIn does not mean they are your friend, what it does mean is that you probably know them (as is the case in the first phase of my suggested approach to expanding your connections) and have worked with them, studied with them, know them via mutual connections, and, yes, some of them may also happen to be your friends. Importantly, being connected to someone does not mean that you endorse them, recommend them, or even like them!

The Benefits of Connections on LinkedIn

So, what’s the point Karen? Where are you heading with this?

I’m glad you asked. In this article I explored how to leverage Gamification on LinkedIn and talk about the idea of LinkedIn ‘rewarding good behaviour’. The number of connections you have on LinkedIn is one of the measures LinkedIn uses to decide where it will rank you in searches when long lost colleagues type in your name on LinkedIn or recruiters type in your skill sets and location. The more connections you have, the more likely it is that your name will come up in a search.

There’s also the idea that everyone you know knows at least 300 other people, and so even though you might think ‘why would I connect with that person?’ if they are no longer in your industry or have moved overseas, I think that’s a short sighted view of how opportunities can arise. People do business and employ people they know, like and trust. How to leverage this idea on LinkedIn is when potential clients or employers are viewing your profile and see people they know who may have liked or commented on your profile or be connected to you. This provides the opportunity for them to ask their connections about you. Think ‘6 degrees of separation’. I am sure you have experienced this in your life. It is important to note that whether people can see your connections or not will depend on your settings and whether you are already connected to them.

Being connected with past colleagues is also a great opportunity for you to get referral business or job offers. When I run training, you’ll hear me say ‘everyone watches on LinkedIn’ and, in my experience, many of my past colleagues who’ve watched the growth of Think Bespoke from the sidelines (not necessarily ever liking or commenting on my updates, but by just being connected to me on Linked), refer their friends and family to our LinkedIn and career planning services.

Inviting People to Connect on LinkedIn

You can ask someone to join your professional network by sending them an invitation to connect. If they accept your invitation, they’ll become a 1st-degree connection. Let’s use the example of Emma Isaacs, Founder / Global CEO Business Chicks USA and say I’d met her recently at a event and wanted to send a personalised follow up invitation to connect. When inviting members to connect, I generally always recommend you send a personalised message to introduce yourself or add context to your relationship.

To add a message, visit the member’s profile page and click Connect. Select one of the options to indicate how you know this person and add your message in the text field below. If the person replies to your message, it will appear in your LinkedIn inbox.

Please note that you can’t paste links or add attachments to invitations. Depending on the receiver’s settings, you may also be required to enter an email address when you send an invitation.

You can invite people to connect from:

  • A member’s profile – Click the Connect button on their profile page.
  • Search results – Click Connect to the right of the person’s information when searching from a desktop computer or laptop (this will send them a default invite, so be careful!)
  • The My Network page – Search your email address book (beware of the option to add personal contacts from your email address as this sends an automated message and follow up reminders and is a bit annoying)
  • The My Network page – LinkedIn will also suggest people you may know who are 2nd or 3rd degree connections (connections of your connections, and so on)

 

how to invite people to connect on LinkedIn

Clicking connect from the members’ profile allows you to send a personalised message.

 

How to invite connections on LinkedIn

Send a personalised message to introduce yourself or add context to your relationship.

 

how to invite connections on linkedin

Clicking connect here will send an automatic invitation to connect without the option to personalise your invitation.

Personalising Invitations to Connect from the Mobile App

A little known fact is that you can also personal your messages when you invite people to connect from the Mobile App. Once you update to the latest version of the LinkedIn app, you’ll be able to personalise your invitation by following the instructions below.

IOS

Tap the Menu icon (3 small dots) in the top right of someone’s profile.

  1. Tap Personalize Invite.
  2. Enter your personalized invitation message.
  3. Tap Send Invitation.

ANDROID

  1. Tap the  Menu icon in the top right of someone’s profile.
  2. Tap Personalize Invite.
  3. Enter your personalized invitation message.
  4. Tap Send Invitation.

Please note that invitations sent from the People You May Know feature in the mobile app can’t be personalised. If the recipient responds to your custom message, a new message thread will appear in your Inbox. A response can be sent without accepting your invitation.

Accepting Invitations to Connect on LinkedIn

While LinkedIn officially recommends only inviting people you know and trust (because 1st-degree connections are given access to the primary email address on your account), I have a criteria for accepting connections I do not know. They need to transact in a country I work with, have a headshot photo and look legitimate. I can soon tell who’s trying to sell to me, and one of my follow up rituals each week is to send a return email to new connections with a script that enables me to work out their intentions. In many cases the connections are genuine and often also warm leads, so do not overlook the benefit of accepting invitations from people you do not know on LinkedIn. In a very small number of cases I am added to email lists, which I unsubscribe from.

Source: LinkedIn Help

karen hollenbach, think bespoke, linkedin specialist, career coach, melbourne

 

Thank you for reading my insights.

As a storyteller, I help quieter and thoughtful folk communicate better online (and offline). I enjoy the complexity of people and helping others through my coaching, training and online courses.

Find out more about Think Bespoke’s LinkedIn Services.

Find out more about Think Bespoke’s Career Services.

Some know me as a Career Coach, for others I am a LinkedIn Specialist Trainer and Executive Business Coach. I thrive on variety as well as the opportunity to spend quiet time with my family, and writing.

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