LinkedIn is undoubtedly the world’s largest, most well-known professional social network. Just like other social networks, member engagement and benchmarks have a huge impact on its success. A major milestone for this network is making 500 connections.
Once a member builds their network to 500 connections, LinkedIn stops publicly displaying the exact number of connections they have and simply adds a plus sign to indicate that there are at least 500 professionals in that member’s network. This achievement tends to leave members feeling accomplished and content—so that they may then focus their efforts on strengthening the quality of their professional relationships.
Legitimacy in a digital age
Living in a digital age, it is common to meet someone virtually on the internet prior to meeting in person. When it comes to business dealings, specifically, one will likely do a preliminary search on LinkedIn, in an effort to authenticate someone’s professional background and business acumen. If you are a LinkedIn member with over 500 connections, that alone shows that you’re active on the platform and have effectively built your professional network. It also makes others feel more confident in entering a relationship with you, or at least be willing to have a conversation.
So, how can you increase your legitimacy to help you reach this goal? Try these tips:
- Ask a former coworker or client to write a recommendation for you, attesting to your strong work ethic or reliability, for example.
- Ask others in your network for endorsements on skills you excel at. Your connections may feel compelled to perform these actions on their own accord, but it does not hurt to ask!
- When listing your work history, be sure to include some job duties and accomplishments from each of your past roles.
- Include your education: where you attended college or which courses you have taken, and any certifications that you may have.
- If you are fluent in any another language(s) – list them!
- If it makes sense, include some of your work samples from past projects.
Read also: 5 LinkedIn Tips To Take Your Profile To The Next Level
Degrees of separation
When your LinkedIn network is comprised on 500+ contacts, your exposure and reach is far greater than you think. LinkedIn will often show you contacts who are 2 to 3 degrees of separation from you, or “friends of friends,” so to speak. If you are interested in speaking to a second-degree connection, for instance, you may leverage your relationship with your mutual contact and ask for an introduction. This will help expand your network and bridge new relationships.
It is also important to recognize that LinkedIn is not solely intended for building B2B relationships—many use the network to find their next job! With an expansive network in place, a job seeker’s ability to connect with a group of other like-minded individuals becomes much easier. An introduction from a mutual contact to a hiring manager or an employee at a company you are interested in goes a long way in getting you that interview.
Want to be seen by more contacts than just your connections? Try these tips:
- Like or comment on posts you enjoy, and share your thoughts
- Share posts of other connections
- Share your own content with your thoughts on your industry, your profession, trends in the job market, etc.
Read also: How To Build Business Relationships With Recruiters
Capturing a larger audience
With a minimum of 500 contacts, your updates and shared content will get more attention on a broader scale—especially when your connections acknowledge or interact with your posts. When your shared content is made public, it can show up many degrees outside of your primary network, and it may even result in clickthrough traffic to your company blog or website—bonus points if it is shared by your connections!
Be sure that the content (especially if it is produced by you) speaks to your values, brand and story. What you share with others should be thought-provoking and authentic—not clickbait. You will notice that the more well connected you are, the higher your profile will rank in searches. Make it a routine practice to comment on posts you want to share your thoughts on, and share the posts that really resonate. Your community will appreciate the great content being circulated and hopefully it will lead to further connections on and off the platform.
Making genuine connections
Though it can seem like a race to get to 500 connections, it is important to ensure these are professionals in which you have something in common or have had some contact with in the past. If your professional network is not that large, begin with your nearest communities: friends, colleagues, and family. These people will be a good start in growing your network organically. Joining a group like a college alumni association is another way to increase exposure with people who have something in common with you. Other groups to join may be based on your professional interests, hobbies/skills, industries you follow (like a passion for eco-friendly vehicles) and following any prominent figures you seek wisdom and insight from.
For those members who use LinkedIn as a repository for industry information and standards or to keep in touch with old colleagues, the goal of reaching 500 connections can seem trivial. But for those who want to expand their business portfolio and followership, having a minimum of 500 connections will give them the credibility they are seeking to move confidently forward in their endeavors. Credibility is only the foot in the door, however. To make an impact and truly use the networking tool to its full advantage, showing up on LinkedIn as your genuine self will get you the furthest in your career and social media goals!