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How to Expand Your Connections on LinkedIn

by LinkedIn Profile, LinkedIn Training

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.

how to expand your connections on linkedinThere’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.

How to Expand Your Connections on LinkedIn

Invite People to Connect

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. When inviting members to connect, I generally always recommend you send a personalised message to introduce yourself or add context to your relationship.

How to Expand Your Connections on LinkedIn

To add a message, visit the member’s profile page and click Connect. Depending on your type of LinkedIn membership and this person’s settings, you may need to click on the More button to find the connect option.

In some instances, you may also be required to enter an email address when you send an invitation.

How to expand your connections on LinkedIn I recommend you personalise your invitation to connect and choose Add note.


Examples of Who to Connect with on LinkedIn

Rather than just rely on LinkedIn’s suggestions for who to connect with (which can also be useful), also consider the Professional Member communities you are a part of (e.g. Women on Boards, One Roof, CPA Australia, AICD, Australian Marketing Institute, etc). In most cases your login credentials for these communities will also give you access to a directory or LinkedIn group. Take the time to browse these directories and reach out to relevant members, mentioning in the personalised invite that you’re also a member.

In the lead up to conferences or professional development events, take the time to view the program and invite interesting panellists and expert presenters to connect. Let them know you’re looking forward to hearing their insights when you attend the event when you personalise your invitation to connect.

Accepting Invitations to Connect on LinkedIn

how to mention people on linkedinWhile 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.

Karen Hollenbach, LinkedIn Expert Consultant, Educator & Mentor

Karen Hollenbach, LinkedIn Expert Consultant, Educator & Mentor

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