Your LinkedIn profile should communicate your value in more ways than one. One way to communicate your value is to have more than 500 connections, which is necessary for a few reasons.
After 500 connections, LinkedIn stops counting. Think about the message this sends employers. It sends a message that you’re important, that you’re someone to know, someone who has a strong network, and someone who must be able to add value to others. Employers want employees with strong networks because they are beneficial to companies. When employers hire you, they hire your network. They know you will rely on your network to do a good job. If there’s an open position at your new company, you may know the perfect person to fill it. If your employer is trying to solve a complex problem, you’ll likely reach out to your network for answers.
You want more than 500 connections so you can rank higher in the search results. Think of your connections as links to your website. If your profile was a website and it had more hits or traffic directed to or from it, it will appear higher in the search results. If you only have 200 LinkedIn connections, your profile may not be as visible as others with more connections. Should someone search for your job title, or the company you work for, your profile will be listed higher in the search results according to how active you are.
If you have more connections, you’re connected to infinitely more people. LinkedIn only shows you connections that are separated by three degrees. If you’re connected to more people, obviously your network of 3rd degree connections will grow. These may become 2nd degree, and ultimately 1st degree connections, which could translate to infinitely more opportunities.
With more connections, inevitably more people will endorse you for your skills. This is yet another reason why LinkedIn is so effective. When others endorse you for your skills, this communicates to employers that you truly have those skills. Similar to the idea behind why you should aim for more connections, you should aim for more endorsements. When you have only a few endorsements for your skills, it sends the message to would be employers that only your friends and family endorsed you. The ultimate goal here is to have more than 99 people endorse you for your skills because, again, LinkedIn stops counting.
Getting more connections and endorsements won’t happen overnight and it needs to happen organically. You can do this by adding people you know including former co-workers, classmates, acquaintances, mentors, and friends. You can also research your friends’ connections to see if you would want to get to know someone in your field. Finally, you should connect with people after meeting them at networking events.
Don’t be too private when it comes to adding people. If strangers add you, don’t be alarmed. It’s just as if a stranger walked into your store from the street. Would you deny him for no reason? Would you welcome him in and invite him to stay? What if he has the opportunity of a lifetime for you? There shouldn’t be any personal information on your profile. Don’t include your address, phone number, or personal email. If people want to get in touch with you, they should send you a message through your LinkedIn inbox.
When you don’t have more than 500 connections, you’re communicating to employers that you don’t have a strong network, that you’re not a savvy job seeker, and that others may not view you as an important person to know. Maybe that’s not the case, but you may not get the opportunity to offer a counter narrative. By growing your connections through LinkedIn, you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.