For both active job search and healthy career management when you’re happily employed, it’s wise to build and maintain your network on LinkedIn.
- Keep in touch frequently with those in your closest circle
- Reach out from time to time to people in your network that you don’t know as well
- Continuously add new people to your network
There is debate among LinkedIn experts and others in the careers industry that you should keep your number of LinkedIn connections to a reasonable number. After all, you can’t possibly stay in touch with all of them if you have more than 500 connections.
But I advise not limiting your number of LinkedIn connections.
The more people you’re connected with on LinkedIn, the wider you’ve cast your net for opportunities, the more people you’re staying top-of-mind with . . . thus the more likely more good-fit opportunities will come your way.
And, the more connections you have, the more people who are likely to share or like or comment on anything you publish on LinkedIn – updates, articles, comments, etc. – therefore spreading the word about your personal brand and unique value.
And, once you reach the 500+ connections mark, LinkedIn says your profile will rank higher in search results, making you more visible and findable.
Do a lot of people reach out to you on LinkedIn?
Chances are that many in your network are following my above guidelines already.
They continuously work their network and they’ve stayed in touch with you.
Unfortunately, not everyone in your network or those who want to get into your network, do it well.
Many of the executive job seekers I speak with have expressed annoyance that they’re constantly tapped for advice . . . for just a few minutes of their time . . . for a lead . . . or for a favor by people they don’t know, or only know of through several degrees of separation.
These job seekers are in demand. They’re often at, or very near, the top of the totem pole at their companies – the key decision makers. The ones other job seekers (and other people) are trying to network their way towards. A few minutes of their time is like gold.
Because they’re in such demand, they often hesitate getting involved with social networking and building an online presence.
A number of my clients have said that, although they know they have to have a presence and network on LinkedIn, they don’t want to open themselves to more requests for their precious time.
I also get a lot of LinkedIn requests
I’m in a similar situation. I sometimes get bombarded with requests.
I’ve been around for about 25 years in the careers industry and have a fairly strong presence on LinkedIn and various other social media. I’ve gotten to be somewhat well-known.
People I don’t know personally or professionally, never spoke with or communicated with, or never heard of at all, reach out to me all the time.
All too often, they want something from me, so I’ve become selective about how I respond.
- In some instances I don’t respond at all
- With some I’ll gently explain that I’m not able to respond to all the requests I get
- With some I’m all on board and eager to get to know the person, help them if I can or collaborate with them in ways they’ve suggested.
Don’t get me wrong. I have happily given advice or mentored or collaborated with many people over the years, just as others have done for me. But I can’t satisfy all requests, or even spare 15 minutes to everyone who asks.
How NOT to Build Your Network on LinkedIn with Me
Here are the kinds of first approaches that completely turn me off:
With an invitation to connect on LinkedIn:
- “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” – using the thoughtless default message LinkedIn provides, and nothing else . . . no personalized message.
- “Will you take a look at my profile and let me know what you think of it?”
- “My resume isn’t working. I attached it here. Will you tell me what I’m doing wrong?”
- “I’m looking for an XYZ role in the (fill in the blank) industry. Can you introduce me to anyone who can help me?”
- “I see that you’re a recruiter. Can you help me find a job?” (I’m not a recruiter and nothing on my profile says that I am.)
Via LinkedIn InMails from others in the careers industry with whom I’ve never communicated, and often don’t know at all:
- Please help me promote my new book (or product).
- Can we set up a time to talk about how you built your business using social media?
- I’m just starting my own career services business. Can you tell me how you did it?
Where did they go wrong?
Their first communication was a request for a favor – to someone they don’t know at all, or just barely know. They didn’t practice “give to get” networking. They didn’t give me a reason for connecting with them.
Maybe they only wanted that one favor and weren’t interested in long term networking with me. But I could be setting myself up for an endless one-sided relationship, with someone constantly “picking my brain”, and offering me nothing in return.
Here’s another thing that turns me off to any kind of request:
Unless it’s someone I already know well or know of, I’ll jump right to their LinkedIn profile.
If their profile is woefully incomplete and tells me very little about them, I’ll probably pass on whatever they’re asking of me.
This is especially true when someone claims to be a LinkedIn expert. How can they profess to know all about LinkedIn when they haven’t bothered to build a fully fleshed out profile?
How to make a positive connection with your network on LinkedIn
Don’t just tell me how I can help you. Tell me how we can help each other.
Give me a reason to want to connect with you, get to know you and help you. Tell me how you know about me, why you want to connect with me and why cultivating a relationship with you might be beneficial for me, too.
When you reach out to me, or anyone you intend to ask a favor of, don’t make your first communication the request for that favor. Build the relationship a bit before you expect something in return. Healthy networking requires balance and reciprocity.
And, of course, don’t expect to do well with networking on LinkedIn if you don’t have much of a profile. Get that in order first.