Sometimes numbers matter more than you think.
So you’ve set up your LinkedIn profile, now how many connections are you supposed to add? If you search out this question on the internet, the answers vary greatly. Some articles suggest adding anybody and everybody who will accept your request, while others only recommend sending requests to individuals you know personally. Which one is the right answer? It depends on your goals when using LinkedIn.
Some LinkedIn users want to connect with as many other people as possible to increase their “second and third connections” through association. You may have noticed these type of networkers, who once they’ve gained 501 connections their profile simply displays their connections number as “500+” instead of specific digits. This is great if you’re in a job (or angling to get a job) that requires you to reach out to strangers in a vast range of industries.
Other LinkedIn users will carefully choose their network to mostly include people they know in-person with the occasional industry connection thrown in. This is a better option for those who want to keep their newsfeed more curated and only want to focus on real-life connections or a particular industry.
Either way, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tips for utilizing your LinkedIn connections:
Strategize Who You Add
If you want to build up a resourceful network, start by sending requests to individuals you know in real life. You don’t have to limit yourself to people you’ve met face-to-face, especially if your goal is a giant network, but it’s a good starting point for making LinkedIn work for you.
- Colleagues — Add current and past coworkers who you’d like to keep as professional connections or even references.
- Classmates — You never know where classmates will end up, and keeping in touch with one might be the leg up you need with your next job interview.
- Business Cards — Pull out your Rolodex or wallet and look at your business card collection. Adding these contacts may bring about more leads and opportunities than just having their email or phone number.
How to Get More Meaningful Connections
Once you’ve created your LinkedIn network, it’s time to reap the benefits of these connections. Work on establishing a dialogue with them by sending a message. If it’s a known connection, through work or education, then check up on what has been happening since you saw them last. If it’s someone you added because they’re in your industry, send them a little note explaining why you requested them and what you’re looking to get out of this connection.
If you’ve worked closely with a new connection, you can go to their profile and click “Recommend [Name]” to write them a personal recommendation. This will be publicly displayed on their profile. You can also request that they write you a recommendation as well.
Be wary of adding every single request you get on LinkedIn. If your main goal is to build up a major network, then accepting their request may be a good thing. If you’re seeking a more curated network, check out the requester’s profile to see if they’re a connection that may benefit you. Most requests are from legitimate individuals who want you in their network. But be aware that some users will “poach” your network list (and potentially leads on sales or jobs) to grow their own network. If that may be an issue for you, you can adjust your user settings to “protect” your connections where no one else can see them.
There is no magic number of connections that will make your career dreams come true. Figure out which strategy to utilize LinkedIn works for you. You may be a social butterfly with a network in the hundreds, or choose to keep your connections close with a few dozen that you know well. Whichever you choose, just remember to keep your profile up-to-date, post any significant career content (such as articles or news) and show a friendly attitude when interacting with others on LinkedIn.