How I went from 100 to 30,000 LinkedIn connections
If you are anything like I used to be, you own a LinkedIn account, but you probably don’t use it much. You don’t use it because it really hasn’t proven to be valuable in any way for your life or career.
I remember feeling the exact same way. I had a really basic LinkedIn Profile with about 100 connections, mostly classmates, professors, etc. It wasn't until I started to look for a job that I really understood the importance of networking on LinkedIn.
One day, I decided to give it a try. I knew I wanted to grow my network and expand my reach outside of my immediate friends and classmates. After all, they weren’t helping me find a job; they didn’t even have the ability to do so. I decided to start adding recruiters and hiring managers as LinkedIn connections from all the cities that I was open to working in. I probably sent out 1,000 invitations my first day and within 1 week I noticed that over 500 of them clicked "accept" on my invite.
First of all, I want to point out that if it wasn’t for me previously spending time making sure that my LinkedIn profile was top notch, I probably would not have received all these accepted invites. If your profile is still looking below average, then make sure to read 19 Essential LinkedIn Profile Tips for Job Seekers. Once you have made the necessary changes to your profile, it is time to start adding some strategic LinkedIn connections.
Take advantage of free filters
No matter what membership of LinkedIn you have (even the free one) you are allowed to use some basic filters. Type in whatever kind of person you are looking to add to your network in the search bar at the top of the page. For example, if you are looking for a sales position, type in “Sales Recruiter”. Once you hit enter or the little blue magnifying glass, you will notice some basic filters on the left side of the page.
Choose what you are targeting
Since we are looking for People, click “People” on the upper left-hand side. Once you have done this, the next filter you should add is “2nd Connections”. Why should you filter by 2nd connections? To answer that, it would help for you to know what the difference is between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree LinkedIn connections.
Difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd LinkedIn connections
- 1st connections are people that you are currently connected with (friend).
- 2nd connections are people that at least 1 of your 1st-degree connections is connected with (friend of a friend).
- 3rd connections are people that at least one of your 2nd-degree connections is connected with (friend of a friend of a friend).
You will always have the smallest number of 1st connections and the largest number of 3rd connections.
Focus on 2nd connections
Just for this one example, compare LinkedIn to Facebook. Have you ever received a friend request from someone with absolutely no mutual friends? That usually is a red flag that this is a random person you probably don’t know. Are you more likely to add the person that you do not recognize with 0 mutual friends or the person you do not recognize with 100 mutual friends? 100 of course. The chances are, you are thinking that maybe you ran into this guy at some party or event and you just don’t remember.
LinkedIn networking works the same way. When you send someone an invite, they are much more likely to accept it if you have some common connections. This brings us back to why you would want to add the 2nd connections filter.
It is important to know that if you add too many people and they say they do not know you, LinkedIn can put a temporary block on your profile so you cannot add anymore connections. (This is why you should avoid 3rd connections, and stick to 2nd). Don’t be too worried, this block will either be undone at the first of each month or you can email LinkedIn and let them know you are sorry and you were unaware of this rule. They are extremely understanding and easy to work with. I know this from experience.
Target a specific location
Once you have added the 2nd connection filter, it’s time to choose the cities you want to work in. Select as many cities or states that you are open to work in as possible. If the location you are looking for is not immediately visible, you can click the “Add” button and type in just about any location in the world to begin your LinkedIn networking.
LinkedIn Networking: Time to get clicking
Now that we have discussed all the boring filters and your search results are extremely targeted, it’s time to start adding your LinkedIn connections. Since you spent a lot of time upfront filtering the perfect search, you will be able to add connections much quicker. Go through the list of people and let the clicking begin.
Simply click “Connect” for each person that you would like to connect with. I recommend adding just about everybody in the beginning. Once you start converting 2nd-degree connections into 1st-degree connections, your network will begin to multiply and you can become more selective.
The best part is, every person you add does not just bring you closer to that 1 person. It brings you closer to however many connections they have. So, if only 1 person accepts your invite but they have 500 connections, you now have 500 more 2nd connections to filter through. If you connect with 10 people who all have 500 connections, you now have 5,000 additional 2nd connections! Your network will begin to grow exponentially and you will start to increase your chances of getting discovered for the perfect job.
LinkedIn Networking: Are you a "L.I.O.N."
L.I.O.N. stands for a “LinkedIn Open Networker”. L.I.O.N. is someone who will add anyone and accepts + actually encourages others to send them requests because they will always accept their invite 100% of the time.
Adding people that you don't know personally for business purposes does not make you a L.I.O.N. You can still be selective about who you add on LinkedIn or whose invitations you accept. I actually recommend avoiding the L.I.O.N. approach. The more strategic you can be with the people you connect with the higher quality 2nd and 3rd-degree connections you will have. If you add 100 people in a totally foreign country, then you can guarantee you are going to start seeing a bunch of 2nd connections pop up in your searches that you have absolutely no intention or reason to connect with.
Today, by doing exactly what I have taught you above, and without ever paying a penny for a premium membership, I have over 15,000 connections on LinkedIn. Each connection was strategically chosen to help expand my career. And let me tell you, it has paid off BIG TIME! Not only do I receive job offers daily, but learning these techniques have helped me excel in the business world. By adding 15,000 strategic connections I have access to over 2.3 million 2nd connections. I truly feel that I have connections in just about every industry and every part of the world, thanks to the amazing opportunity that LinkedIn provides.
It’s time to begin with your LinkedIn networking. Feel free to send me an invite referencing this blog, I would be happy to give you access to my 30,000 connections. If you need some help making sure your LinkedIn profile is top notch, check out Find My Profession and ask about a LinkedIn Profile Makeover.