Adding connections is a big part of LinkedIn. Unlike other networks like Twitter where you can simply start following regardless of whether you know them personally, LinkedIn encourages that you only directly connect with people you know in the real world. They make it easy for members to deny requests and mark them as people they do not know. LinkedIn classifies people within your network as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd connections.
- 1st connections are people you are directly connected to through invitation.
- 2nd connections are people who you share mutual connections with i.e., you and Mahesh Patil are both 1st connections with Sunil Potdar.
- 3rd connections are people with whom you share extended network connections.
The number of connections you have on LinkedIn matters. Remember, the more first-degree connections you have, the more second- and third-degree connections you have, making you literally one connection away from millions of people. That’s important because LinkedIn is a massive search engine in which you’ll only show up in your first-, second-, and third-degree connections’ searches. In other words, if you’re not connected with individuals at these levels, you won’t come up in their search results.
To start building your network of connections, go under the ‘Contacts’ menu, and select ‘Add Connections’. Here, you will have four ways to connect with people i.e.’ Add Connections’, ‘Colleagues’, ‘Alumni’, and ‘People You May Know’.
- Add Connections: First, you can enter your email address, import your desktop email application contacts, or enter a list of email addresses. This will bring up everyone on LinkedIn whose email addresses you have in your address book. You can select everyone in the list or only the people you want to add to your network and add them as connections.
- Colleagues: Select the ‘Colleagues’ tab. This will search LinkedIn for members who work at the same companies you have listed on your profile. You can go through the list, check people that you want to connect with, enter a personal note, and send your invitations to connect.
- Alumni: You can find college/school/university-mates by going to the ‘Alumni’ tab and selecting a college/school/university that you have listed on your profile. This will show you other LinkedIn members who have also attended the same college/school/university during the same time period. What is interesting about the results of this search is that you can see a graphical breakdown of where people live now, where they work, and what they do.
- People You May Know: This will give you a list of suggestions based on your current connections. As with the above options, be sure to only request people who you know will recognize you and will want to connect.
Connecting with People Outside of Your Network
When you request to connect with someone you do not have any common affiliations with (companies, schools, or mutual connections) then you will have to specify how you know them. Essentially, you will have to select that you’ve done business with them at one of your current or past jobs or attended school with them. Otherwise, you will have to know their email address to connect. If you are connecting with someone that you don’t know very well, make sure that you include a personal note as to why you want to connect with them.
Connect through Groups
LinkedIn Groups are a great resource to use for gaining exposure, building authority, and attracting traffic for your website. They are also a great way to connect with others in your industry. When you join groups in your industry, you are likely to interact with others who you may want to add to your professional network. If you do choose to connect with someone in a group, then you will get an added option in the connection request form that lets you specify that you know them through a group, bypassing the need for an email address or company/school in common.