Are you focused on getting a job? And you don’t have much of a LinkedIn network? Relax, that’s not unusual. But prepare to work because a more extensive network will help recruiters find you on LinkedIn.
Why Do LinkedIn Connections Matter?
First, why do LinkedIn connections matter?
From the platform’s earliest days, Founder Reid Hoffman was concerned about how members would evaluate each others’ reputations.
A 2005 patent awarded to Hoffman noted:
“Oftentimes the most relied on sources of information concerning the reputation of a person, organization or service are the recommendations of friends, family, neighbors and/or colleagues.”
Thus, LinkedIn baked the importance of who you know into its algorithm from the beginning.
So, how does that impact your job search 15-plus years later?
How Your LinkedIn Network Increases Your Visibility to Recruiters
Well, connections help the algorithm determine who to show in search results when a recruiter looks for candidates.
For instance, if I start looking for a CPA, LinkedIn instantly drops a menu of my 1st-level connections that match that term.
If I don’t choose any of those people and hit return, LinkedIn feeds me pages of 2nd-level connections.
The algorithm does that because the people who wrote it assume I will favor people who know my 1st-level connections over strangers.
The Network Multiplier Effect
Now, think about it; the more 1st-level connections you have, the more 2nd-level connections you have.
Thus, if you want to show up in recruiters’ search results, you will benefit from being connected to them or their 1st-level connections.
As your network gets bigger, you will be a 2nd-level connection of more recruiters. In fact, research published in 2022 showed those loose connections drive more job opportunities than 1st-level connections do.
How Your LinkedIn Network Increases Your Visibility on the Recruiter Platform
In addition to the multiplier effect described above, when a recruiter uses the platform’s premium Recruiter product, LinkedIn gives them an option to view people in their results who are connected to people who work for their company.
I asked a friend in talent acquisition for a Fortune 500 company if she prioritizes those search results when she’s recruiting. “Absolutely!” was her response.
So, connect with people at your target companies.
The Size of Your LinkedIn Network Matters to Hiring Managers
Finally, a 2018 study of hiring managers found that LinkedIn profiles with more connections got better ratings than those with fewer connections.
Because LinkedIn shows whether or not you have 500 connections in the Intro section at the top of your profile, and that number matters to hiring managers, your network’s size is part of your brand.
Start with People You Know
If you have a small network, say fewer than 100 people, start by connecting with everyone in your:
- Email contact list
Then, make a list of current and former:
- Suppliers and service providers
- Board colleagues
- Professional association colleagues
- Trade association colleagues
- Social media group members
- Who else? Please share ideas in the comments below.
As you make your list, invite people to connect.
Sample LinkedIn Connection Request
Here’s a sample request:
I’m updating my LinkedIn and would love to connect.
BTW, if you don’t see a “Connect” button on the person’s profile, click the “More” button, and you’ll find “Connect” in the dropdown menu.
2nd-Level Connections in Target Companies
As your network grows, you’ll be able to connect with 2nd-level connections in your target companies and elsewhere.
You can find them by:
- Searching LinkedIn on the company name
- Clicking “People”
- Clicking “All filters”
- In “Connections,” checking “2nd”
Once you have a list of results, view them for people you share at least 3 connections with and send them this carefully-crafted invitation to connect.
By growing your network with intention, you make yourself more visible to recruiters when they’re looking for someone like you.
How Many LinkedIn Connections Do I Have?
If you don’t know how many connections you have, look at your profile. You’ll see the number below your headline.
If it says 500+, click on the 500 to get a count and a list of your connections.
How Many LinkedIn Connections Can I Have?
LinkedIn caps 1st-level networks at 30,000 people, although they sometimes allow more if you beg.
The Big List of Tips
If you want more ideas for growing your network, see the comments below. After that, check out this helpful compendium of ideas I crowdsourced on LinkedIn.
Is There a Limit to Sending Connection Requests on LinkedIn?
In case you’re wondering, “Does LinkedIn limit how many connection requests I can send in a day?” the answer is, “Yes.”
How many? No one knows.
However, having a Premium account seems to solve the problem unless you’re sending so many requests the algorithm flags you as a bot.
The company also limits the number of lifetime invitations you can send to 5,000. Again, if you beg, you might get more.
How to See Pending Connections on LinkedIn
If you want to see your pending invitations:
- Click “My Network” on the top horizontal rail.
- Then, click “Manage,” which is down a bit and to the right.
- Then, click “Sent.”
You will get an aged list of your outstanding invitations.
However, you won’t know if the people on the list rejected your invitation or if they haven’t seen it. It takes months for some people to check their invitations.
You’ll also see a “Withdraw” button to the right of each person’s name. If you want to remove an invitation, click “Withdraw.”
Finally, when you grow your network quickly, you might end up with a few people who aren’t a good fit for you. Don’t worry; you can see how to remove a LinkedIn connection here.
Let’s Connect on LinkedIn
Please invite me to connect on LinkedIn. The more I know about my readers, the better I can make my blog. Plus, you’ll automatically get 20,000 new 2nd-level connections!
Updated October 2022
© 2010 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
Let her expertise inform your job search strategy and decision-making.
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