linkedin connectionsIn all my speaking, training and coaching, it has to be the most popular question I’m asked about LinkedIn: To link or not to link?  Should a job seeker go after a high quantity of connections, or focus more on the quality of those connections?

My answer, in short, is both. I am a strong believer and advocate that out of quantity comes quality. (Like this thought? Tweet it!)


How to Connect on LinkedIn (the Right Way)

Guy Kawasaki of Alltop fame says it best when talking about Twitter: “Nobodies are the new somebodies.” Albeit a different medium, I think that philosophy applies here just as well.

LinkedIn is the premier online professional networking site. And, just as you would network at a live event, the goal should be to get to know those you don’t already know.

Moreover, following Kawasaki’s logic, you shouldn’t try to predetermine who can help you — those second and third degrees of separation with the most random of people can take you places you never expected to go.

It’s also essential to connect with like-minded people. A massive number of connections with non-networking types nets you “garbage in, garbage out.”

Personally, I have used OpenNetworker to grow my network from under 2,000 connections to over 15,000 in just over a year. More importantly, they are 15,000 connections who want to network. This has been instrumental in helping me get the word out on what I do. I don’t decide who needs to hear my message — I let the audience (my connections) decide what has value. They then make the introductions and connections accordingly.


Using LinkedIn as a Job Search Tool

For job seekers in particular, you must have your message down.

More importantly, your message (or, as I call it, your “Solution”) isn’t that you’re unemployed or you’re looking for work. It’s all about where you have consistently delivered value to employers in the past — painting a picture picture of what you can do for a future employer.

When I’m working with clients on their Solution, we get crystal clear on the problems (or pains) they solve. Fine-tune your Solution, push it out as a clear message, attract those in pain (i.e. those who need what you can deliver) and then explore the fit (interview).


Parting Words

Can you do this with a small, closely knit network? Sure. But chances are your immediate network already knows your accomplishments. Your closest network would hire you if they could. But what about those “nobodies” who could just be the “somebodies” who lead you to your new job? You owe it to yourself to connect with them sooner rather than later.

Where do you fall on the “quantity vs. quality” debate when it comes LinkedIn Connections? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Image Credit: Brett Farmiloe, Markitors