One of the questions my c-suite and senior-level executive clients most frequently ask me is:
Does it matter how many people I’m connected to on LinkedIn, and who should I connect with – everyone who asks?
Opinions differ on whether it’s more important to amass a lot of connections or concentrate on building fewer high quality connections. Your strategy is up to you, of course.
I can tell you what I do and why.
I accept almost all invitations to connect, but I don’t mindlessly hit the “Accept” button. First, I’ll check their profile.
I want to be sure they’re the kind of people I want to be connected to – not spammers, scammers or someone trying to sell me something who’s going to nag me to death. I’ve even had quite a few men connect with me who treated LinkedIn like a dating site.
But don’t worry too much if you make a mistake and accept the invitation of a no-goodnik. You can always disconnect with them, and they won’t be notified.
Why Having a Lot of LinkedIn Connections Is a Good Thing
If you’re having trouble deciding what to do, think of it this way. The more people you’re connected with, the wider you’ve cast your net for opportunities, the more people you’re staying top-of-mind with . . . thus the more likely more good-fit opportunities will come your way.
And, the more connections you have, the more people who are likely to share or like or comment on anything you publish on LinkedIn – updates, Pulse articles, comments, etc. – therefore spreading the word about your personal brand and unique value.
And, once you reach the 500+ connections mark, your profile ranks higher in search results, making you more visible and findable.
Why a Minimal, Anemic LinkedIn Profile Can Actually Hurt Your Executive Job Search
When people assessing you go to your profile, they won’t find enough of the kind of information they need to make the decision, and may not be willing to take the risk to funnel you into the interviewing process.
The hiring process as a whole is an expensive proposition for employers. The more they know about candidates beforehand, the lower their risk in bringing on bad hires.
A minimal amount of content in your profile does little to define and support your personal brand, and help you get found by people who can help you meet your career goals.
More Content = More Relevant Keywords = Greater Chance of Being Found
An incomplete profile and lack of activity on LinkedIn can age you, and mark you as a poor-fit candidate. You appear to be out-of-date with the new world of work, and not social media-savvy.
Your competitors in the job market may be more savvy than you, using LinkedIn to their best advantage. You need to do the same, just to keep pace with them.
So, back up your growing number of connections by making sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and communicates your personal brand.
Who Should You Connect With on LinkedIn?
You need to bring all kinds of people into your LinkedIn network . . . and proactively keep yourself and your personal brand top of mind with them. Here are some suggestions:
- Executive recruiters in your niche
- Hiring decision makers at your target companies
- Other employees at your target companies
- Business associates and vendors you’ve worked with
- Current and past colleagues
- Colleagues involved in the same volunteering and community projects
- Friends and associates
Think of everyone you know. People in all walks of life can help you meet your career goals, but many of them may be strangers to you, or people you barely know.
What’s the Best Way to Connect With People on LinkedIn?
You can simply hit the “Connect” button on anyone’s profile, and they will be sent an invitation from you, with the weak default message, “I’d like to join your LinkedIn network”, or whatever the current default is.
But they’ll be much more likely to accept, if you take a little time to craft a personalized message. Almost anything that shows you put a little thought into the invitation will probably convince them to connect with you.
Keep your message short. Just a sentence or two. The recipient could well be someone who receives dozens (if not more) of these invitations daily. Make it easy for them by keeping the message short and to the point . . . and give them a reason to WANT to connect with you.
Also important. Write in grammatically-correct, typo-free, proper language. Don’t use texting shortcuts or other abbreviations.
I do connect with people who use the default message, but only after I’ve reviewed their profile to see whether we might be able to help each other. I rarely connect with people who expect a favor before we even have a relationship.
A Customized LinkedIn Invitation To Connect Works Best
No matter what the person’s situation, or whether we may be able to help each other, I will always accept an invitation accompanied by a well-crafted message, such as these two I received. Wouldn’t you?
“I am a loyal follower on Twitter and am very impressed with what you do in life. I was hoping we could connect so I can learn even more from you.”
And . . .
“Loved your recent post, 5 Ways to Keep Your Executive Job Search Confidential on LinkedIn. I shared it, along with others in the past, with several of my LinkedIn Groups. Would you like to connect with me here on LinkedIn? I feel like I already know you!”
No surprise, I will immediately accept and respond to this kind of personalized message. I’m drawn to people who take the time to craft a personal message that let’s me know how they know me, why we should connect, and possibly, how we can help each other. And throwing a sincere compliment my way never hurts!
Here’s how LinkedIn Help says to bypass the default message and personalize your invitations to connect:
- Visit the member’s profile page and click Connect.
- Click Add a note.
- Add your message in the text field.
- Click Send invitation.