When you’re looking to develop your professional network, there are two approaches to building your LinkedIn connections. The first is to aim to get your network to be as big as possible, focusing on QUANTITY, and the second approach is to NURTURE your LinkedIn connections, which focuses on QUALITY. In this article, I’m going to take you through the pros and cons of numbered connections vs nurtured connections, and show you the approach that’s worked best for me as I’ve grown my business.
Quality over quantity
One of the most common mistakes that beginners make on Linkedin is to connect with everyone and anyone. I don’t recommend doing that – personally I believe that a targeted, credible, specific network of LinkedIn connections that you’d ideally like to work with, or who can help you in some way is much better than connecting with too many people, which can make you appear spammy or unprofessional.
Unlike other social networks, connecting with someone on LinkedIn will lead you to see posts from those that they are following – too many random connections will overwhelm your homepage with both relevant and totally irrelevant content, including posts from industries that may have nothing to do with your brand.
By adding relevant people and interacting with relevant content, you’ll find that your newsfeed stays applicable to your industry, and it will be far easier to have meaningful interactions with those who matter.
Where to begin
Building and nurturing relationships with the right group of people is far more important than worrying about how MANY LinkedIn connections you’ve got.
Let’s start with people that you already know. Go through your email and mobile contacts list and reach out to those people – they may be former colleagues or university classmates, and some of your friendship group may be able to help as well. People who already know you are more likely to support you in your growth and engage with your content.
It’s a strategy that’s worked really well for me – I made contact with people I knew from university, who set up meetings for me with their firms’ partners, who became my clients!
You should also send Linkedin connection requests to people you have met recently, whether face to face or online. This is a really good way of building your network and also getting some leads as quickly as possible. As you’ve met them recently and have spoken to them, they’ve already put a face to the name, so send them a connection request straightaway and add a personalised message to say how you met. It will act as a useful reminder later on when you start building your lead generation campaign.
COLLECT your prospects
After you’ve connected with the people you already know, the next stage to building your LinkedIn connections is to use a targeted approach to COLLECT your prospects – and the best place to start is to think about your ideal client. This is the first stage of my ‘4C Method for Prospecting Like a Pro.’
You can use advanced search tools to help you hone in on your ideal prospects. In my article A Beginner’s Guide to Using Boolean Search on LinkedIn, I explain in more detail what’s involved, but in a nutshell, it’s a targeted way of filtering out unwanted search results.
Advanced search tactics allow you to target people more effectively, improving your Social Selling Index score, as LinkedIn sees you connecting and networking with the right people. In my Complete LinkedIn Mastery course, I work through several real-world examples with you on-screen using my own target clients, so you can see exactly how it’s done.
CONNECT – start the ‘nurturing’ process
The next stage of my ‘4C Method’ is to CONNECT with your prospect. This is the beginning of the nurturing process – start with a personalised connection request, then follow with a welcome message within a couple of days.
You should ALWAYS add a personalised note with your connection request – to help you with this, I’ve created a range of messaging scripts which I provide to people registered on my Complete LinkedIn Mastery course, including 8 different templates that you can personalise to use for your connection request.
Once you are connected, follow up within a couple of days with a welcome or thank you message to welcome your prospect to your network. It’s a great way to get the conversation going and to let them know you’re there to help and will be giving them value as you build your relationship.
Keep the message short and friendly. At this stage, you are NOT trying to sell or pitch – you need to nurture the relationship and earn the opportunity for a phone call or meeting when the time is right. Look for clues in their LinkedIn Profile to work out what to include in the message. It’s a good opportunity to offer them something free, such as a download or other resource, to make them feel good about being connected to you. Again, the messaging scripts included with my Complete LinkedIn Mastery course can really help you.
Take your time
It’s important to build and nurture the relationship with your LinkedIn connections over time by spending time on your content, and by CONVERSING with them using the guidelines in my ‘4C Method’, as these are the types of people who will turn into sales further down the line.
LinkedIn allows you to send up to 100 connection requests a day, but instead I would recommend that you start off small. If you send around 10 connection requests a day to start with, and then build up to between 30-50 a day over time, that’s a much better strategy. Remember – it’s all about quality, not quantity!
Review your invitations
Don’t forget that other people will be reaching out to connect with you on LinkedIn – it’s a good habit to review the connection requests that you’ve been sent on a regular basis. You might get some good leads that way!
See if the people who have invited you to connect look like they could be a good prospect, or if they can help you in some way – particularly if they’ve taken the time to personalise their connection request. Don’t feel that you have to accept ALL connection requests – if someone doesn’t look like a good fit, or they are a competitor, for example, then just click on ‘IGNORE’.
When you accept people into your network who have sent YOU a connection request, especially when they’ve taken the time to personalise their request, I would always recommend sending them a welcome message. It’s a nice way of getting the conversation going, and of starting the process of nurturing the relationship.
Based on my own experience, I would always advocate going for nurtured connections rather than numbered connections. Although it’s good to get at least 500 LinkedIn connections to make your profile appear active and credible, it’s better to take your time and focus on getting the RIGHT LinkedIn connections, rather than the biggest number! It’s more important to start out the right way, and carefully consider WHO you want to connect with, and build a relationship with them over time, than to rush to hit the biggest number of LinkedIn connections possible.
Put it this way – would you rather be a nurtured connection yourself, or just part of a vanity metric? Your prospects will no doubt feel the same way – and by making them feel that you value them and can add value, you’ve already started the ball rolling with my ‘4C Method to Prospecting Like a Pro’.