For whatever reason, LinkedIn has declared 500 to be its magical number for LinkedIn connections. Once you’ve hit the mark, your profile simply shows “500+ connections” putting you right in line with the most influential connectors on the site and immediately raising your social profile (Looking for other ways to improve your LinkedIn performance? Try these tips to increase your LinkedIn social selling score.).
If you’re just getting around to building your LinkedIn network or if you’ve never put any real effort into it, getting to 500 can seem like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. Try these tips to get 500 targeted LinkedIn connections, fast:
#1 – Let LinkedIn do the work for you.
My Network > Add Contacts. If you use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or AOL, LinkedIn works with these services and will automatically search for contact email addresses from your history. But if you use a regular corporate email provider, you’re not out of luck. LinkedIn can still sync with many of them.
Just take 5 minutes to go through the process of adding your email address and letting LinkedIn do the work for you. You can also upload an Excel file with your contact information and LinkedIn can go from that, so you really have no excuses when it comes to putting LinkedIn to work for you.
#2 – Use what you have.
You may not be at 500 yet, but you likely have some connections on LinkedIn. It’s time to put the “social” in “social network.” Use the network you’ve built, no matter how small, to expand and reach more people in your target audience. Depending on how many connections you have this could take a little time, but it will pay off in the end. I recently talked about how to be a LinkedIn Connector – if you’re trying to get to 500, you may not be ready yet to go for “Connector” status, but you can use those principles to grow your network.
Go through your connections and one by one, identify 5 to 10 of their connections who could be excellent prospects for your business.
Pick up the phone or send an email to your connection and ask for an introduction (Resource: Here’s a link to LinkedIn’s instructions for introducing 2 people on LinkedIn – this may be helpful to send to your connection). If you want to take it a step further, send them a draft of the email introduction, making it super easy for them to just copy and paste your message when introducing. If you have 100 connections now and get just five introductions from each person, you could be at 500 connections this week. Just be sure to focus on introductions to people who fit your target audience. You’re looking for quality and quantity here.
#3 – Take advantage of Advanced Search.
Once you’ve let LinkedIn do the work for you, and you’ve put to work your current network, it’s time to start digging. LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function can help you pinpoint prospects in your target audience with relative ease. The functionality is excellent for all users, but gets even more refined if you’re a premium user.
PRO TIP: If you really want to get specific but aren’t ready to go all in on a premium account, LinkedIn offers all users a free 30-day trial. Sign up for the trial and take full advantage by using the additional criteria in Advanced Search to quickly find targeted leads and potential connections.
#4 – Optimize your profile.
There is another way to let LinkedIn do some of the work for you, but it’ll take some time from you up front. A complete, optimized profile is much more likely to come up in search results when LinkedIn users need help from someone in your area of specialty. So if you haven’t completed your profile yet, or if your experience, summary and other key sections are incomplete (or aren’t optimized), get to work.
Not only will a better profile make it easier for people to find you, but when you’re sending those requests to connect, people are much more likely to accept if your profile effectively tells your story and “sells” them on you. In this post I share how to optimized your profile in 6 easy steps.
What NOT to Do
Under no circumstances should you ever buy LinkedIn connections. I understand that a few minutes ago, I told you that getting to 500 can help establish you as a leader on LinkedIn, but ultimately you’re looking to add value for your business. Buying LinkedIn connections will result in a mess of contacts who are unlikely to provide any value to your business. Or worse, you could get pinged from LinkedIn for violating their terms. Don’t do it. It’s bad for your business, and the results could not even compare to putting in a few minutes of leg work.
Optimizing your profile is an essential part of increasing your connections and getting real results on LinkedIn.
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“Stop the madness. There’s a better way!”
LinkedIn Marketing & Social Selling Consultant, Trainer, Speaker