LinkedIn is not a Popularity Contest
Do you know how many people care about how many connections you have on LinkedIn? The most likely answer is zero but in a few cases, the answer is one. Let me translate this for you. No one other than you, and I mean no one, cares about how many connections you have. This is not high school. This is not a competition. When I see someone who broadcasts the fact they have 11,687 connections, I’m less inclined to connect with them. Am I supposed to be impressed that they’re willing to connect with literally anyone? What kind of network is that? What kind of returns are they getting from this network?
As a recruiter, I live on LinkedIn and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. What I love about LinkedIn is I’m able to connect with like-minded people in my field. I’ve met a ton of good people on the network and that has led to referrals on both the recruiter and business side. Conversely, I’ve been contacted by people who either live in other countries or are in an industry that is in no way connected to mine. How am I really going to benefit from connecting with a mortgage broker in Santa Barbara? I live in the DC area and if I ever move to California, I’m pretty sure I can find a mortgage guy on my own.
LinkedIn is like life. It’s about the quality, not the quantity. I’d much rather have 100 close connections who I help and who help me, versus 10,000 connections who I’ve never met, can never help and will never provide me with any assistance in my career. Some people seem to think the business community at large will be impressed with their obscene number of connections. That is not the case. Some of the most successful people I know don’t have that many connections because they’re very picky in terms of allowing someone new into their network.
In practice, my advice is to only connect with people who have some connection to your field. I’m a recruiter who in a past life, hired folks in IT. So outside of recruiters, I’m willing to connect with technical folks in the DC area. I don’t connect with business coaches who live in Minnesota and don’t know me from a fly on the wall. I also don’t appreciate the lazy attempt to connect. Personalize your request to connect. Mention a shared connection or the name of the person who referred you. If you speak with a new potential client or candidate, send them a request to connect right after you hang up the phone. Thank them for their time and offer to help them down the road. Connect with like-minded people and watch your opportunities and possibilities grow exponentially.
Conor Nicholson is the Founder and CEO of NSS RPO, a consulting firm that provides on-site and virtual recruiting professionals. Contact NSS RPO to learn about how we can help your organization meet and exceed it’s hiring goals.