You know that having the right connections on LinkedIn is the key to success … but how do you get them? Whether your LinkedIn profile just needs a bit of a boost, or you’re wondering how to get past your current threshold of ‘a couple of friends from high school and your dad,’ we’ve got the lowdown on how to get more connections — and, more importantly, how to get the right ones.
Why connections are important
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” We’ve all heard the saying, and most of us know that it’s true. In today’s job market, that increasingly refers not only to who you know in person, but to who you’ve connected with digitally. The number one way people find job offers is through referrals, with as many as 60% of all hires being made through networking rather than traditional advertising. That’s a lot of potential jobs you could be missing out on!
Here are some other benefits to growing your number of LinkedIn connections:
A bigger network
Having a bigger network means there are more opportunities you’re likely to hear about. Whether it’s through companies you’ve had your eye on, recruiters you can work with, or contacts who know about something through the grapevine, your network is a valuable source of information and potential openings.
The more connections you have, the greater reach your content will have. Whether that’s more people to read, interact with, or share the things you post, or the passive influence that comes with building a personal brand, getting your name and expertise out there is one of the best ways to attract inbound opportunities.
LinkedIn connections are more than just a numbers game — but numbers help! Having more connections means you’ll show up in more search results and make it easier for people (like recruiters) to find you.
How? Simple! LinkedIn’s search algorithm prioritizes results based on how ‘close’ you are to the person searching. So if you search for a generic title like “Java Developer” or “Project Manager,” the top results will be people in your network (first degree connections). Second degree connections are shown next, meaning that even if you aren’t directly connected with a hiring manager, you’ll show up higher in their searches if you share a connection in common. People you have no relationship with on LinkedIn will still show up, but at the bottom of your search, which means there’s a real benefit to having a lot of connections.
Having lots of random followers won’t help you here, but if you’ve made targeted connections with people in your industry, that can make you appear more trustworthy to people looking at your profile. Activities like posting and engaging with appropriate content, building relationships with people in your network, and connecting with high-level people in your field are all instant credibility boosters.
Things you can do to get more connections
Looking for a low-effort way to get more connections? Inbound connections may be for you. By making your LinkedIn presence active and appealing, you can make people want to connect with you.
Improve your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn Review is the fastest way to start getting more connections. This free tool scans your LinkedIn profile for mistakes and gives you instant feedback. It can suggest areas for improvement including how to write a great LinkedIn summary, how to optimize your keywords, and how to show up in more search results.
Keyword optimization isn’t just important for resumes. LinkedIn users also search for keywords to find relevant connections. To start optimizing yours, think about who you want to connect with. Recruiters? Specific companies? People who already work in the field? Spend some time looking at job descriptions in the industry you’re interested in and list relevant keywords — for example, if you’re looking to move into SEO marketing, you’ll want to list SEO in your profile. (And if that sounds like a lot of work, why not let LinkedIn Review do it for you?)
A lot of career advice right now centers on building a personal brand, but what exactly does that mean? It doesn’t mean you need to dedicate all your free time to finding followers or become a full-blown influencer. What it does mean is posting quality, consistent content that’s relevant to your professional life. Try:
- Writing blog posts. Some of the best things to write about are new developments, trends, and current events. In-depth content like case studies are valuable, too.
- Starting a podcast. Not only is it possible to build a regular audience, it’s also a great way to meet other people in your industry by inviting them on for an interview or discussion.
- Engaging with other people’s content. Sharing newsworthy articles, commenting on blogs, and responding to people can all help you make a name for yourself.
- Reading more about how to use LinkedIn to develop your personal brand.
If being proactive is more your thing, why not aim for outbound connections? This requires taking some initiative and reaching out to the people you’d like to connect with, but it can be a more reliable method of gaining connections if you prefer the direct approach.
Connect with recruiters (+ templates)
If you’re job hunting, connecting recruiters is a must, but you don’t have to be actively looking for it to be a good idea. After all, you never know what opportunities could be waiting for you!
When connecting with recruiters, never rely on LinkedIn’s default message. Take the time to write one of your own that says why you’re reaching out and sounds a little more personal — most people, recruiters included, are more likely to respond favorably to a personalized message than to a generic one. Try something like:
I'm interested in [Company Name] and have eagerly followed [a new development or initiative]. I’d love to connect and ask you a few questions about the role and recruitment process if you have time. Thanks!
And here's an alternative LinkedIn message template you can send:
I am currently exploring new opportunities and noticed that you’re currently recruiting for [position or industry]. I thought I might be a good fit for current or future roles and am happy to send a copy of my resume or any other information. Thanks!
For more tips and message templates, check out our guide on reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn.
Find new connections
LinkedIn isn’t just for job hunting — it’s also a valuable networking tool. You can use it to connect with alumni or meet other people in your industry. Like any connection request, try to personalize it a little and make sure you get straight to the point. For example:
Subject (if you're sending an email): Would love to connect
I came across your profile on [mention how you found them]. I found your post about [XYZ topic] really interesting — I definitely agree with [something that resonated with you]. I’m [briefly explain your current role, eg. a marketing director at ABC Company] and would love to keep in touch and learn more about your work.
If you want more tips on how to write the perfect LinkedIn connection request, look no further!
Reconnect with old contacts
It’s common to fall out of contact with old friends and ex-colleagues, but it’s worthwhile keeping these people in your network (and not as difficult as you might think). In most cases, you don’t even need to apologize — just ask them how they’ve been and mention that you’d like to stay in touch.
Subject: How are you? (Optional, use if you're sending an email)
We met at [mention to event and roughly when it was, eg. at the virtual marketing conference last year] and spoke about [topic]. Apologies for not keeping in touch!
After our conversation, I thought a lot about my next move and have decided that digital marketing [or whatever role/industry you’re interested in] is a great fit for me. If it’s okay with you, I’d love to ask you a few questions about your experience.
Do you have time for a quick phone call next week? I’d really appreciate it.
And here's an alternate email or LinkedIn template you can send:
Subject: Hi there!
It’s been a while and I just wanted to say hi! I hope you and your family are doing well. How are things at [Company]
Congratulations on [a new life event, eg. your promotion to regional manager]! I saw your update on LinkedIn and was excited for you. How is that going?
All the best,
Here are some more tips on how to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
Ask for introductions
If you’re looking to be introduced to someone in particular, it’s okay to ask a mutual connection to pass along a message on your behalf. Especially with people who are particularly busy or high level, this can often be the best way to guarantee a connection. Try to make things as easy as possible for your contact with a message like:
Subject: Could you intro me?
I noticed you're connected to [Name] on LinkedIn. She's working at [Company] and I've been thinking about applying for a position as a [job title] there.
I’m keen to ask her a few questions about what the company and role is like. Would you be willing to connect me to her? I can send you a pre-formatted introductory email to make things easy for you. Thanks!
You can also check out additional templates and subject lines to use when asking for an introduction.