HOW TO: Quickly Grow Your LinkedIn Network

job jokes, career jokes

by Donna Svei on November 15, 2010

Focused on getting a job? What, no LinkedIn network? Relax, that’s pretty much the norm for people embarking on a job search. StacyZapar, the Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn, says, “Dig the well before you need it.” Fantastic advice, but not many people follow it. 

Let’s assume you’re in the “My LinkedIn network bulges with 60, count them, 60, contacts” group. If that’s the case, you probably want to grow your LinkedIn network, and you probably want to grow it fast.

Why? Because the people we know, and the people they know, help most job seekers find their next position.

We talked about how to grow a LinkedIn network ASAP on Twitter’s LinkedInChat a couple of weeks ago.

  • Emily Birchfield, a Richmond, Virginia HR professional, suggested that you connect with your current professional contacts.
  • Katie Germain, an Atlanta resume writer, suggested that you connect with colleagues from previous jobs.
  • Jeff Carroll, a social media marketing professional from Bellevue, Washington, suggested that you connect with former classmates.

I love these ideas. They represent the low hanging fruit of LinkedIn connections. Low hanging fruit? Yes, that’s the fruit you pick first when you’re hungry. Right?

What makes these potential connections low hanging fruit?

You should be able to easily find many of these people and they should be relevant to your job search. Jason Alba, a LinkedIn guru, stressed the importance of relevant connections. That is because people who do what you do, work in your industry, etc. might just know about opportunities relevant to your knowledge, skills, and abilities. 

So, how do you find these people? For starters, go to LinkedIn’s automated connections page here. You will see that Linked in will help you add connections by scouring your email account, looking for people who have worked for your former employers, and looking for people with the same major who attended your college when you did.

Then, with your OK, LinkedIn will send them a message headed “Donna Svei wants to stay in touch on LinkedIn.” The body of the message will read, “Julie, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Just like that, except LinkedIn will use your name, not mine, and your people’s names, not Julie, unless, of course, your people are named Julie.

Now, much digital energy has been expended over using LinkedIn’s standard invitations. If you don’t want to send someone the standard invitation, don’t click the box beside their name. Omit them entirely or send them a personalized message. That’s your decision.

How might you make that decision?

  1. Consider how much time of your valuable time you want to put into this. Automated invitations are fast. That’s useful.
  2. Automated invitations work pretty well. You might take inspiration from Bill Boorman, a UK recruiter. Bill tested personalized and automated invitations. He got a better connection rate from his automated invitations. Yes, you read that correctly.
  3. Look at how many connections a person has. Do you really want to use your time writing a personal invite to someone who has two connections? Probably not. Maybe. Only you know if that is a high or low value use of your time.


I’m a fan of you using speed tools to build your network and of you using your judgment in using the speed tools. Ignoring the speed tools entirely will really slow you down. Slow down when it makes sense. Otherwise, have at it!

Thank You

Thank you to Viveka von Rosen, the moderator of LinkedInChat, for inviting me to co-mod the Special Job Search Edition. It was a blast! Thank you to Stacy Zapar, the Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn, for the “dig the well” advice. Thank you to everyone who has added additional methods and insights in the comments below.

BTW, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn at My email address is I love connecting with people who read my blog!

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at or call me at (208) 721-0131.

Featured on SmartBrief on Your Career.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed Han November 15, 2010 at 13:15

As you know, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn for job seekers. One thing that a lot of newcomers or casual users of LinkedIn often get wrong is their headline. There’s this wonderful space for text that appears every time your name does–your own personal billboard–yet many people make the mistake of populating it with, “[Job function/industry] professional”.

Another idea: incorporate a few Applications (go to More|Applications Directory) on LinkedIn, such as a blog whereby you can demonstrate your professional expertise.

Tricia in GB (UK) November 17, 2010 at 08:27

….and the people they know, help most job seekers find their next position.

Should I mention that some job ads now come with a referral bonus- ‘if you know someone who might be interested’ can equal a $$ thank you if the person you refer (your connection) gets the job.

Donna Svei aka AvidCareerist November 17, 2010 at 08:55

Hi Tricia,

Indeed you should mention referral bonuses. I have blogged about them to help job seekers understand that their networking isn’t “all about them” at all. Rather, by connecting with someone in a company, or even outside a company, they might help someone earn a referral bonus.


Stacy Donovan Zapar November 18, 2010 at 15:04

Thanks, Donna. I read that article – TWICE – and didn’t even NOTICE the “dig the well” comment till you pointed it out to me. Eye strain or dymentia? Hmmmm… LOL

Anyway, thanks for crediting me and for racking your brain. Good memory! :)

BTW, I have a similar post on my blog, also talking about digging the well, in case any of your readers are interested:

Thanks again! :)

Stacy Donovan Zapar November 18, 2010 at 15:05

Whoops – this is the one about digging the well:

Sorry about that!

Donna Svei aka AvidCareerist November 18, 2010 at 15:19


They’re both great posts. I’m glad you shared two, not just one!


Jeff Carroll November 20, 2010 at 11:56

Ed — I’m all about getting as much mileage from my headline as possible — that’s why I include all of my pertinent contact information following my ‘about me’ blurb.

As far as the apps go, I’m really a fan of the Reading List. In fact, it has actually garnered me additonal connections waaay outside of my network, due to questions people had about books I had read, shared reading interests, etc.

My Twitter account is not fully integrated with my LinkedIn account, because I don’t want to spam people with a rapid-fire succession of status updates; however, if there’s an article, case study or presentation that I think may be of interest to members in my network, I will push it to LinkedIn (by using the #in hashtag).

Donna Svei aka AvidCareerist November 20, 2010 at 15:18


Thank you for these terrific ideas! I love your Twitter and LinkedIn bios and agree that Twitter is a better place for multiple updates than LinkedIn. I try to keep my LinkedIn to one a day or even fewer.


Karl Reimer May 30, 2011 at 09:57


Good advice on use of Linked In (LI). I am a confirmed LI junkie. In +/- 4 years have grown my connections to >500. I would also recommend joining groups that are of interest to you. See the regular posters in that group. If they are of interest (based on thinking or knowledge etc) then reach out to them and request a connection. You can use the connection of “common members of a group” or whatever the exact line is. I would also use the group to post your thoughts/knowledge on a topic and see who responds, then reach out to them as well.

Linked In is a powerful and useful tool. Once you start building your profile and connection it will also start to garner attention and the growth will continue that way as well.



Donna Svei May 31, 2011 at 14:03

That’s great advice Karl. Thank you for sharing it!


Aidan Foley June 5, 2011 at 09:04

Loved your comment … Do you really want to use your time writing a personal invite to someone who has two connections? Probably not … Makes you wonder why they are on LinkedIn?

Donna Svei June 7, 2011 at 13:38

Thank you Aidan.

I think some people start and then get distracted.


Karen Gutman September 15, 2011 at 14:24

Donna, Your advice never gets outdated! Remind people to get business cards at networking events, and ask those people to join you on LI. Remind them in the invite where you met. They will be impressed by your quick connection!

Thank you Karen, for this and all your kindness. Donna

Naomi Garnice June 5, 2013 at 14:59


Thank you for sharing, this is great information. I’ve seen the ‘Stay in Touch’ requests coming through and I didn’t know the details behind them. This is immensely helpful and of course, great advice.


Thank you Naomi. I appreciate you taking the time to be so nice! Donna

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