How to grow your LinkedIn network

Since you’re reading this post, it means you want to know how to grow your LinkedIn network.

In fact, there is hardy anyone who does not want to get followers and connections to grow LinkedIn network. When you have a large network, more people see your updates and can find you in their LinkedIn searches. Growing your network is key to your professional success on LinkedIn.

Here is how to grow your LinkedIn network:

  1. Complete your profile by filling out all sections
  2. Optimize the profile for your target audience
  3. Join relevant professional groups
  4. Get your connections to endorse you
  5. Engage with your target audience everyday
  6. Start posting regularly
  7. Send connection requests to people you want to connect with
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 every day

That’s it!

We’ll take a deep dive into how to do these things effectively. But first, let’s understand how LinkedIn works.

LinkedIn is a network of people where each member is a node with connections to other people (nodes). Every time you connect with someone, you grow your LinkedIn network. It also opens up a path for them to find you through search or your content.

There are three degrees of connection on LinkedIn – 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

1st degree connections: People you’re connected with are your 1st degree connections. You can send direct messages to these people on LinkedIn. You can also see their contact details. Your first degree connections are the first ones to see when you share something on LinkedIn. So growing your first degree connections is important if you want more people to see your posts on LinkedIn.

2nd degree connections: People who are directly connected to your 1st degree connections. You cannot message them directly or see their contact details. You can ask your first degree connects to introduce you to these people. Your second degree connections are more likely to accept your connection requests. They are key to expending your network.

3rd degree connections: They are 1st degree connections of your 2nd degree connections or 2nd degree connections of your first degree connections. You cannot message them or see their contact details. They are also less likely to see you LinkedIn updates.

Group level connections: When you join a LinkedIn group, you become a group level connection for everyone in that group. LinkedIn considers these people a part of your network. You can message these people directly  or through the group. Joining groups is one of the fastest ways to grow your LinkedIn network.

When you connect with a person, you get more than just one first degree connection. It expands your 2nd and 3rd degree connections also.

Let’s take an example. Will Cannon, Founder & CEO at UpLead, is one of my first degree connections. When I connected with him, his more than 1000 first degree connects became my second degree connects. His 2nd degree connects, running into tens of thousands, became my level 3 connections. So just by adding one 1st degree connection, I grew my LinkedIn network by thousands of people!

Having a large LinkedIn network is the foundation you need for generating b2b leads on LinkedIn.

Let’s look at how you can grow your LinkedIn network to thousands of level 1 and level 2 connections in just a few months.

Step 1: Complete your LinkedIn profile

Your LinkedIn profile has several sections you need to fill:

  • Headline – It serves as you business card so make sure you write a clear, concise and appealing headline.
  • About – This is a summary of your professional achievements. A lot of people fill it with business jargon and a repeat of their work experience. That’s a big mistake. Use the about section to tell people who you are as a person, what you love, what you have accomplished and you help others achieve their goals. Write it like you would write your product’s landing page on your website.
  • Experience or work section – Chronologically list your work experience starting with the most current one. Avoid writing what you do in your job. Focus on telling what you have achieved in the role. For example, say “generated $2M is new business last year” instead of “I am responsible for business development and growth”.
  • Education section: List your degrees in this section. List only the relevant things – people want to see your professional qualifications, not your you high school degree.
  • Licenses and Certificates: List any professional certificates or licenses you have.


Step 2: How to optimize your LinkedIn profile for your target audience

Optimizing LinkedIn profile is about making it relevant to your target audience. If you want to get job offers, make your profile relevant to recruiters by focusing on personal achievements. Entrepreneurs and salespeople should optimize their profile for generating leads. That means highlighting your product/service and your customers’ successes in addition to your personal achievements.

Follow these steps to optimize your LinkedIn profile

  • Add relevant keywords to Headline, About and Experience sections – this will help others find you through LinkedIn search.
  • Include a crisp and clear description of what you do. Entrepreneurs and salespeople should write about their product or service and their customers’ success stories.
  • Add a compelling call to action (CTA) to your profile that tells people what to do after they read your profile on LinkedIn


Step 3: Join relevant professional LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn has hundreds of groups for every industry and business niche. People join these groups to discuss issues related to their industry, function, or skills. Groups are a super-efficient way to expand your network and increase reach on LinkedIn.

When you join a group, other members of the group become your group level contacts. They can see your profile and LinkedIn posts.

I don’t encourage you to join a group just to have more connections. Use these groups to engage with others and build up your profile. The more you engage with fellow group members and help them, the deeper will be your connection with group members.  This will help you get more customers or that dream job you’ve been looking for.


Step 4: Get recommendations from your connections

Recommendations from clients and supervisors are best for building credibility on LinkedIn. However, recommendations from co-workers are not credible.

Try to get a minimum of three recommendations. Make sure these include relevant keywords, skills or results that will increase your credibility.

How to get a good recommendation on LinkedIn

  • Identify customers or supervisors who will give you a good recommendation
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn if they are not already a level one connection
  • Ask them to write a recommendation. Give them an outline of what you want them to highlight in the recommendation
  • Share step-by-step instructions on how to write a recommendation on LinkedIn as the person may not know how to do it
  • LinkedIn will notify you when the person submits the recommendation to LinkedIn. If you are happy with it, accept it and it will get added to your LinkedIn profile. Otherwise, request for a revision

Recommendations have a big impact on your LinkedIn profile optimization. They improve your search rankings and make your profile more attractive for recruiters and prospects.


Step 5: Engage with your target audience everyday

Engaging with your audience – Like, Comment, or Share – on LinkedIn is an important element of growing your network.

When you engage with a post, LinkedIn notifies the post owner. Most people on LinkedIn are eager to see who has engaged with their post. So, engaging with a post is a good way to get noticed by the post owner. When you comment on a post, everyone who sees the post will also see your comment. Some of the people who see your comment may connect with you. Even those who don’t would have noticed you. When you send them a connection request later, they are more likely to connect because they are familiar with you.

Engaging with people is a great way to build visibility and awareness that will help you grow your LinkedIn network.


Step 6: Posting regularly on LinkedIn will grow your reach and network

LinkedIn wants people to spend more time on its platform. So it encourages people to post regular updates. The more stuff there is to read, the more people will spend time on the platform. The more time they spend, they more ads LinkedIn will be able to show them. As you can see, writing posts on LinkedIn is key to the platform making money. But it’s also key to your growth and success on LinkedIn.

When you post an update or write an article on LinkedIn, your 1st degree connections see it in their newsfeed. If you shared something interesting, some of your 1st degree connections will like it, comment on it or share it. This means the post will be seen by their first degree connections increasing your reach on LinkedIn.

When people see your updates regularly, they become familiar with you. Many of them will want to connect with you if they like what you are sharing. When you send connection request to others, they are more likely to accept it because they are familiar with you.

Over time, your reach and familiarity will help you grow your LinkedIn network quickly. In fact, there is a strong correlation between posting regularly and the number of connection requests you get on LinkedIn.


Step 7: Send connection requests to your target audience

Your target audience on LinkedIn depends on how you want to use the platform. Entrepreneurs and salespeople should connect with:

  1. Prospects who are likely to buy from you
  2. Influencers who can give you reach and introduce you to prospects
  3. Friends, co-workers, and professional contacts like customers and suppliers
  4. Industry networks like Chamber of Commerce, Organizers of popular industry events, etc.

You should also connect with your college friends and alumni as they already trust you and will be open to introducing you to their contacts on LinkedIn.

How to find people you want to connect with on LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn search – use the location, company, college, and keyword filters to find people you want to connect.
  • Search LinkedIn with hashtag relevant to your business. LinkedIn will show you a list of people who’ve used the hashtag in their posts. You will also see a list of posts with that hashtag.
  • Scroll through the members in your LinkedIn groups.
  • Build lists with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It’s the most powerful tool for finding prospects and people you want to connect with.
  • People who visit your profile. These people have already shown interest in you so they are likely to connect with you.
  • Connect with people who have engaged with your posts on LinkedIn. They already know you and have a positive image about you from the post.

Final step is to send connection requests to these people. Always include a message giving the person some context as to why you want to connect. The success of your connection requests depends a great deal on the message so take some time to craft a personalized message.

How to send connection requests on LinkedIn

You can send a maximum of 100 connection requests on LinkedIn daily.

However, some individuals prefer a “spray and pray” approach, bombarding numerous people in hopes of generating leads. This approach is against the essence of LinkedIn networking and proves counterproductive.

Utilizing automation tools to send a high volume of connection requests is against LinkedIn’s rules against bot usage. Moreover, canned requests from bots often result in awkward messages, particularly if the recipient’s first name is abbreviated to an initial.

To avoid issues with your messages, it is best to send manual connection requests. Manual requests align with LinkedIn policies and foster genuine networking.

Send 5-10 connection requests each day. By accurately targeting the right individuals and crafting compelling messages, you can expand your network by 100-150 people monthly.

Manual requests allow for personalization, expressing genuine interest in the recipient. This significantly boosts the acceptance rate compared to automated messages, which typically have 8-10% acceptance rate. In contrast, personalized messages can achieve an impressive 40-50% acceptance rate.

To increase the odds of your prospects accepting your connection request, follow this three-step plan:

  1. Visit the person’s profile and start following them, triggering a notification and creating familiarity.
  2. Prior to sending a connection request, review the profile for common points of reference. Establishing a shared connection improves the success rate.
  3. Check educational background, work experience, LinkedIn group memberships, and shared connections as potential commonalities. Leveraging these similarities facilitates a higher rate of acceptance. Consider requesting an introduction from a mutual connection for even greater success.


How to write a good LinkedIn connection request:

  • Take a quick look at the person’s LinkedIn profile to find something common between the two of you, such as school, a previous employer, a shared connection, or a common interest.
  • See what the person has posted/interacted with on LinkedIn. You may find something interesting or common there.
  • Use the information you find to personalize your connection request.


LinkedIn connection message examples:

LinkedIn connection message template for alumni:

“Hi <first name>,

I am <your name>. Both of us went to the same school – <school name>. It will be great to get connected on LinkedIn.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

LinkedIn connection message template for common group member:

Hi <first name>,

I am <your name>. I noticed that both of us are members of the <Group Name> group. It will be great to get connected directly on LinkedIn.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

LinkedIn connection message template for shared interest:

Hi <first name>,

My name is <your name> and I am <your job title> at <your company name>. Both of us have shared interest in <common interest/industry/function etc.>. It will be great to connect on LinkedIn and learn from each other.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

LinkedIn connection message template for prospects:

Hi <first name>,

My name is <your name>. I read your post about <subject of the post>. Sharing an article on the topic that you may like <link to article>. Would love to connect with you so we can continue to learn and grow together.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

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