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.
Contact Donna here to learn more about her resume and LinkedIn profile services and fee structure.
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.
….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.
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.
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! :)
Thanks again! :)
They’re both great posts. I’m glad you shared two, not just one!
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 Amazon.com 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).
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.
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.
That’s great advice Karl. Thank you for sharing it!
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?
Thank you Aidan.
I think some people start and then get distracted.
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
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