If you’re trying to figure out how to get more connections on LinkedIn, you’re not alone.
Who to connect with on LinkedIn in order to build a network is a question I often get asked. Every time someone sends me a connection request, I always send out a reply thanking them and also asking them to contact me should they ever need any help with LinkedIn. Well, not everyone asks me a question, but by far the question that I get the most is:
As I have seen my network grow over time to the maximum 30.000 connections that LinkedIn allows you to have, I believe I have the experience to be able to help you effectively grow your network to meet whatever objective and target audience you might have. That being said, there are many ways to achieve this and you will need to be the judge as to which methods you use.
So, what are some specific ways in how to get more connections on LinkedIn?
First of all, I think it is necessary to understand why a large network on LinkedIn is important. I believe that the main purpose in using this social networking for professionals is TO FIND AND BE FOUND.
In order to do this, you need to use the Advanced Search functionality, which will give you the top 1,000 results based on whatever search terms you entered from within your network. Your LinkedIn network, for those of you newer to the platform, is defined as your direct connections (1st degree), your 1st degree connections’ connections (2nd degree), and your 2nd degree connections’ connections (3rd degree).
When you first joined LinkedIn, any search you did may not have given you a total of 1,000 results, but as you grow your network, you will realize why some people pay to get more results and access more search filters that LinkedIn Premium provides.
A good example is way back when when I was looking for people in the Staffing and Recruiting industry (headhunters, etc.) who might be working in my field of specialty at the time (IPTV). I would enter the keyword IPTV and select the Staffing and Recruiting industry and voila! I would get 70+ people that popped up. One month later, after increasing the number of LinkedIn connections I had, the number increased to 90+.
This is a simple case study to illustrate the fact that the larger your LinkedIn network, the more you will find and be found. A side point is that your search results will always change as your network grows, so make sure you do regular searches for finding people that are important to you and do not get frustrated if nothing shows up on your first search.
Now that we know why it is important to grow our network, let’s look at some of the common ways of how to get more connections on LinkedIn. There are two types of ways to achieve this:
- an active way, utilizing one’s invitations, and
- a passive way, hoping that people will find you and invite you to their network.
Let’s start with the active ways of inviting others:
1. Invite Co-Workers from Past and Present Companies
This sounds very simple and indeed is. LinkedIn offers ways for you to easily find people from your past companies that are LinkedIn members. You can then connect up without knowing their E-Mail address. This is really the reason why most people are on LinkedIn and how LinkedIn began to develop, to help you find old colleagues.
However, you can only find people if your profile is up-to-date. That means the more companies that you say that you worked for in your profile, the more colleagues you will find. Make sure you complete your profile for every job you have held since you started working for optimum results. This may sound elementary, but responding to the question of how to build my network on LinkedIn always begins here.
2. Invite Classmates from Present and Past Schools
You can find old classmates on LinkedIn just as you can find old colleagues. In order to do so, though, you need to have your profile updated for every school that you have attended…but maybe not every school.
About 99% of the profiles I see only go back as far as their college. I have added my high school to my profile, but I have only been able to find other classmates not through this feature but by doing a keyword search for my high school name.
During and after college I spent time doing foreign language study at colleges in China, Taiwan, and Japan, and I have added these to my profile. Through this I was able to hook up with a guy from 1988-89 foreign student class in Beijing for the first time since!
Anyways, I would recommend putting every school you attended starting from high school as well as summer and study abroad programs to maximize the benefits here.
3. Invite Business and Personal Contacts from Your Email Database
This is the way that new people generally get invited in to the LinkedIn network.
LinkedIn will conveniently check your digital address books and allow you to see who from your database is on LinkedIn and then automatically generate an invitation with one easy push of the button.
I caution you here not to just invite anyone and everyone that shows up on these lists.
You may have emailed a bunch of companies asking for a quote on some home improvement project, for instance, and these people will show up here…do you really want to invite the guy who’s business you turned down?
You could have an Outlook contact of someone who is now working at your competition…do you want him to be part of your network?
You really need to go through the results here carefully and only keep the checks on those people that:
- are on LinkedIn (they should be displaying in a different color with more information) and 2
- you feel will add value to your network.
One final note here is that I recommend you DO NOT invite anyone who is not currently a member of LinkedIn. We all find out the hard way, but LinkedIn places an initial limit on the number of invitations that can be sent out to 3,000. That’s definitely a lot of invitations that will take you time to burn through, but you will burn through them as you navigate through the members of this 700+ million strong community and build your network.
So if there are contacts who are not on LinkedIn that you invite and never sign up, your invitation will be wasted. Whether the invitation is accepted, ignored, not delivered, etc., it doesn’t matter. Your invitation has been used up.
4. Invite LinkedIn Group Members from Groups That You Belong to
There are many Groups that you can easily search for and join on LinkedIn. Although I was initially intimidated to join a group, it is a very easy process and I don’t think I have been refused entry to a group so far, although there are some that will ask you to register on their websites or provide them your email address.
Joining a group is easy and benefits you in that you can now search within your group as part of an Advanced Search and see people that may not already be part of your extended network.
As for inviting people from within a group, make sure that you check their profile, and if they say nothing about being open to connecting, make sure that you have a minimal number of mutual connections with them. I would start with a minimum number of 5 mutual connections but raise that as you increase your number of connections and thus potential mutual connections with others you don’t know.
If the above conditions aren’t met, do not risk yourself by inviting them. I made the mistake early on of inviting someone just because they were the member of the same group. BIG MISTAKE. One “IDK” later I came to the conclusion that just because you think that someone in your group would welcome an invite from their fellow group member doesn’t mean that they think the same.
5. Invite Other People in Your Network to Connect After Finding Them on an Advanced Search
This is the most popular way method of how to get more connections on LinkedIn when you want to scale your network growth quickly. It is also the way that most LinkedIn automation tools work.
The value of LinkedIn is that there is no other site for professionals where you can absolutely pinpoint and contact a person in a certain industry with a certain company and title.
If you are in sales (or are a recruiter), LinkedIn is like a heaven-sent gift.
That being said, you will get kicked out of LinkedIn if you do not respect the wishes of others that do not want to be bothered by invites, which they will report back as spam (yes, this is worse than an IDK).
Many CEOs that I have met have commented that they saw LinkedIn as merely a way of getting back in touch with old colleagues. However, the people you find in your concentrated search that you absolutely would like to contact but are not part of any common group or show any preference to open networking and have few if any mutual connections are the most difficult yet sometimes the most valuable people to be in contact with.
Before inviting these people, I suggest that you send them an InMail, or if they have an email address listed somewhere in their profile, first send them an email indicating why you would like to connect with them. If they have a paid LinkedIn account, you might be able to send them a free InMail through their LinkedIn profile.
On the other hand, if you become a paid member, you do have an opportunity to send out InMails as part of your subscription. One rule of thumb that I have used is if they have their email address in their profile they are open to being contacted, but remember to first always read their profile and contact settings before attempting a connection.
Now let’s look at the passive ways in which we can attract inbound LinkedIn invitations to get more connections.
6. Completely Fill Out Your Work Profile
This goes hand-in-hand with actively finding people as LinkedIn is about finding and being found. I recommend including every job that you would put on your resume, including early positions you held just after graduating from school. The content is not as important as just putting the company name and years you worked there. That is enough to be found.
7. Completely Fill Out Your Education Profile
This is the exact same concept as completely filling out your work profile. I would put every school attended since and including high school in your profile. If you studied overseas during or after college, or you got an Executive MBA or other degree of higher education, be sure to put those in your profile as well so that you can be found by past classmates.
8. State That You Accept Invites in Your Profile
If people read your profile and you indicate in your contact settings, summary, or headline that you accept invites, it will become easy for you to receive more invitations because open networkers will not be afraid of receiving the dreaded “IDK” from you.
There is no fixed way of doing this, but simply do an Advanced Search with “accept invites” or something similar as the keyword and see how other people do it.
9. Join Groups in Whatever You are Interested in or Groups That Meet Your Objective
While there are “open networking groups” that you might be tempted to join, today I stick to the approach of only joining those groups that meet my objective and that I can bring value to. If you do so, you will be more likely to receive invites from serious group members that aren’t necessarily open networkers.
10. Promote Your LinkedIn Profile Everywhere
How to get more connections on LinkedIn by promoting your profile everywhere? From email signatures to printing your LinkedIn profile URL on your business cards, there are plenty of opportunities to promote and build your LinkedIn network.
If you’re trying to build your LinkedIn network too fast, a word of warning: LinkedIn has many safeguards in place to prevent that from happening. Therefore, you should not expect to start getting tens or hundreds of invites a day passively. In my own personal experience, when I had about 3,000 connections I noticed that I would start getting a regular daily batch of about 10 invites. So if you are not getting enough invites passively do not worry…they will come in proportion to how large the reach of your network is, as well as doing the other things that I recommend above.
Have you been able to grow your LinkedIn network effectively? What are some other tips on how to get more connections on LinkedIn that you would add to the above?
Hero photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash