Updated August 2021
In this article you will learn how to expand your connections on LinkedIn.
I believe being connected with everyone you know on LinkedIn is important. Not as a numbers game, but because it enables you to stay meaningfully connected with your professional community at a time when the world’s quite disconnected.
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
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 LinkedIn), refer their friends and family to our LinkedIn and career planning services.
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.