LinkedIn has more than 706 million users in 200 countries. You already know it’s one of the most powerful career networking tools out there, but just how many connections do you need—and can you have too many? We’re breaking it all down here. And, once you have the scoop, follow us on LinkedIn for content you can use in your career and share to grow your own network!
To Connect or Not to Connect
Obviously, the whole point of LinkedIn is, well, “linking in” with people. While the actual number of connections you have isn’t the be-all and end-all, it’s definitely something to consider from a prospective employer’s point of view. If you have too few, it might seem like you’re not that interested in your career or finding ways to learn more or get ahead. Too many could mean that you’re not selective enough or don’t have enough focus in your career.
One long-touted theory is from Neal Schaffer, one of Forbes’ top 50 social media power influencers, who says that you should aim for 10 times as many connections as your age.
There’s a lot of conflicting research out there about whether to try to connect with anyone and everyone or try to stick to people you actually know. Amy George, Inc. columnist and owner of By George Communications, says “it’s not about how many connections you have. It’s about how well you know your network and how well you tend to it so that your career or business flourishes. Period.”
On the other hand, Craig Wasilchak, CEO of Crushing B2B Digital Strategies, offers eight reasons to connect with people you don’t know on LinkedIn, including that you might just be one person away from your next big opportunity. If you connect with people in your field or who have the kind of job you want, it’s a chance to peek behind the curtain and see what the position is really all about.
Ultimately the final number is up to you, but 500 connections is typically a solid target to help expand your network and increase visibility.
LION: King of the Networking Jungle?
In the world of LinkedIn, a LION is a LinkedIn Open Networker. LIONs connect with anyone and everyone to make their network as big as possible. They are aiming to reach the LinkedIn limit of 30,000 connections.
A person’s profile only shows up to 500 connections (anything above and beyond simply shows up as 500+). However, as of March 2021, LinkedIn does allow you to search for LIONs through the groups feature. So, what does this mean for our job hunters?
If you connect with a LION, you not only have connected with their thousands of contacts but it’s estimated that you now have access to over 1 million third-degree connections too. That’s a lot of people that you can now directly reach out to for a job.
Another way to get involved on LinkedIn is to join one of its groups. Here you can hook up with other people in your field or who have similar interests. Maybe it’s your college alumni, digital marketers, native French speakers, film buffs, etc. It’s a chance for you to pick other people’s brains, swap stories, or even network for your next opportunity.
Only members of a group can view, post, or comment on the conversations going on in that group. So, it’s a way to hone your personal brand (e.g., let people know what matters to you) and make yourself known. Contributing to the group is a good way to establish your value.
Spread the Content Love
And speaking of contributing, if you want to use LinkedIn to your full advantage, you need to get in the content game. Content sharing was up by 50% year-over-year in 2020, and LinkedIn is currently developing a support framework for content creators, who are referred to as the “lifeblood” of the company.
So, where do you start? Find influencers in your industry and amplify their voices. These thought leaders have the ears (or eyes) of CMOs, CEOs, CFOs, and other big decision-makers, so people are usually interested in what they have to say. When you share their content, you show that you are tuned in to what’s happening in your field.
Another easy way is to follow journals, magazines, and publications in your area of expertise. If you see something interesting or thought-provoking, share it! And don’t be afraid to comment on content—the more engaged you are, the better. Try to avoid humblebrags and share content that your network may actually find helpful or interesting. Not just something to toot your own horn.
Connecting to New Opportunities
In our latest Talent Insights Report, we found that 59% of those we surveyed had been contacted less or not at all about jobs in 2020 than the previous year. Which means if you’re in the market for a job, employers might not come knocking at your door. This is where your LinkedIn connections might come in very handy. Research has shown that anywhere from half to upward of 80% of jobs are filled through networking. And let’s not forget that 70% of all jobs are not published on publicly available job search sites. So if you’re looking, you need to start connecting.
And, when you’re on the hunt, make sure that you know your worth. Check out our 2021 Salary Guide, which compiles real salary data from over 20,000 people in UX, marketing, creative, development, search, and analytics across the U.S. and Canada.
Lastly, of course, remember to follow Vitamin T on LinkedIn. You’ll be first to know about new job opportunities, plus, a lot of other great content about what’s going on in your field, whether that’s creative, design, development, or marketing.