Your Connections Matter

LinkedIn Profile Optimization

LinkedIn connections are an extremely critical piece to look at. The LinkedIn connections are your connections to former co-workers, peers, business partners, consultants, and other professionals.

Connections allow you find potential contacts at other companies where you would like to work at. Connections allow you to be found by others who prefer to hire someone they know or where they can get a verbal reference statement from a person they can relate to. Many newer statistics show that hiring managers prefer to hire people that come through a “personal” referral. So, your goal is to get connections associated with your LinkedIn account.

There are 2 ways of how to approach your connection strategy.

  • Add as many people as possible to your connections – no matter who.
  • Be a bit more selective in who you add to your profile

Each strategy has some advantages and some disadvantages.

No matter what your strategy will be, your first goal needs to be having 50 connections associated with your profile. Your profile will not be considered completed if you have less than 50 connections.

I am a bit torn which strategy to follow really. I am a bit picky who I accept as a connection when requests come in. I do accept connection requests from peers (current and former), recruiters, vendors, business partners, and other people who I might have dealt with in the past. Sometimes I get connection requests from people I have absolutely no connection to. As an example, a while ago a hair stylist from Los Angeles send me a connection request. I do not have hair anymore and I do not live in Los Angeles. His message did not have anything personalized to say and so I ignored the request. There would have been no reason for me to be connected to that person. In addition his profile looked very incomplete. I actually suspected this to be a fake LinkedIn profile – used by somebody to later do some “marketing” in one way or the other.

I do accept some connection requests from people I do not know, but again I am a bit picky. I work as an IT professional and sometimes people from all over the country send me messages. I often accept those as I can see this to be beneficial for both sides.

You can also decide and accept any incoming connection or to contact as many people as possible to further increase your LinkedIn network, but is the effort worth the results?! I value quality over quantity.

How often should you search for new connections?

I usually do this once a week. I will then actively search for new connections, but I do not necessarily send out requests every time. As mentioned before, I consider quality over quantity when it comes to LinkedIn connections. No matter what your approach is, keep adding connections frequently. Adding connections is part of maintaining an active profile – which seems to be preferred by LinkedIn and could result to rank higher in searches by other people.

Important: Customize your connection requests

LinkedIn has a standard text for when you send out connection requests. While this might work in cases where you know a person really well, for most other cases you should customize the connection request.

Here is a screenshot of the default notification.

 

There are several options how you can send out connection requests. The default message usually gets send without you having the option to customize it, if you use the normal search feature.

Your screen would look similar to this:

 

You would click on connect and usually LinkedIn will send a message right away. All you would see is “Request has been sent”.

Instead of doing it this way, click on the profile link for a person and then send the connection request from the profile page.

The option to customize your invitation will then be available.

Customize the message inside the message box and then send the invitation. Make sure you select the appropriate option of how you know that specific person. It pretty much works the same way compared to the message you would send out to solicit recommendations.

Depending on which option you picked from how you know a person you might be asked for their email address. While LinkedIn probably has their email address already, it kind of functions like privacy guard so that users are prevented from spamming other people. Knowing this fact you should also add all your email addresses to your LinkedIn profile. This will make it easier for other people to find you.

To add more email addresses to your account you will need to go to the settings of your profile. Click on the little profile image in the upper right hand corner when on LinkedIn.

Then select “Privacy & Setttings”. On the next window click on “Change/Add” located near your primary email address.

A new window will open on top of your profile page and it will show you the list of email addresses in your account. From here you can add additional email addresses needed.

 

Once you added additional IP addresses, hit “Close” and you are all set. It will now be much easier for other people to find and to contact you.

How to connect with other people without knowing their email address?

If you desperately want to connect with a certain person, but have no other level of established connection (2nd or 3rd level existing connection) you will need to use their email address to send out your invitation.

If you do not know that person’s email address there are ways to find them anyway.

  • Check that person’s LinkedIn profile in detail. You might find their email address displayed here or there.
  • If their profile shows a company name, do a Google or Bing search for that company name. As an example, let’s say I am looking for someone who works at Chevron (just a random example – I do not know anyone at Chevron).
    Please note that Google might try to auto-fill your search term. Don’t let them do it and rather use the example shown above.

  • The search result already shows me what I am looking for.

    You can see from here that there are 2 options available and now we could use these options to “email” our LinkedIn connection invite to a matching email address.


The search result already shows me what I am looking for.

You can see from here that there are 2 options available and now we could use these options to “email” our LinkedIn connection invite to a matching email address.

  • Another option to get in touch with that person is to join a group he or she is a member of. When you share group membership with someone, you can send a connection request without knowing their email address. In theory you could simply join the group, contact the person of interest and then leave the group again. However, before you do so read my advice about groups a little further down in this group because groups of many benefits.

As easy as it is to add connections, it is also easy to get rid of a connection and the other person does not even get notified about you removing the connection. To remove a connection you will need to go to the “Contacts” section in LinkedIn.

Once you click on “Contacts” a list of your contacts in alphabetical order will appear. You can either browse through the list or do a search for a specific person. Once you find the individual you want to have removed from your list of connections, select the person and click on the “more” option. A “Remove Connection” option will become available.

Why would you want to remove a connection? Some people might be spamming you like crazy through LinkedIn and so it might be the better move to abandon that connections. You’re safe, the person that you are removing from your list of connections will NOT get notified about it. The only they would notice is if they go through their list of connections and discover that you’re missing from the lists.

Once you become really active with adding more connections to your account you can expect more activity on your account, too. You will have more people looking at your account and you will show up more often in searches on LinkedIn.

Follow the advice given here and you will be able to watch numbers soar in your account, too.