How to optimize LinkedIn connections to achieve professional goals

By Kaci Diane Palmore | Aug 29, 2022

Kaci Diane Palmore is a freelance writer for Ready for Social.

LinkedIn is a social network built with the intention of helping professionals achieve their goals. Whether you are looking for a new position or looking to hire for an open position, utilizing your network of LinkedIn connections is a solid first step. New to LinkedIn? Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to making the most of your LinkedIn network.  

Defining various types of connections  

1st-degree connections are people you connected with directly because you’ve either accepted their invitation to connect or they’ve accepted yours. You can tell who is a 1st degree connection by a 1st degree icon that appears next to their name in search results and on their profile. LinkedIn allows users to have a max of 30,000 1st-degree connections to optimize site experience.  

2nd-degree connections are connected to your 1st-degree connections. They’ll have a 2nd degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. If you would like to be a first degree connection with them, you can do so by sending them an invitation to connect. 

3rd-degree connections are people connected to your 2nd-degree connections. Like your 1st and 2nd degree connections they’ll have their own 3rd degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile.  

The other types of people in your LinkedIn network are followers and fellow members of LinkedIn Groups. Followers are those who may not know you personally, but choose to stay up to date on your posts by getting your public updates on their LinkedIn feed. Fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups are considered part of your network because you’re members of the same group.  

Establishing professional goals  

Your LinkedIn network can go a long way in helping you achieve your professional goals, but you need to first establish what those goals are. To aid in that process, it is beneficial to broadcast your intentions. Publicly stating your aspirations shows potential employers or potential employees what you want. A great place to state your purpose is your LinkedIn bio, as it’s one of the first things people see when visiting your page.  

If you are looking for a job, it’s beneficial to analyze the profiles of those who have your dream job. While everyone’s path is different, a lot can be learned by analyzing other people’s experiences. Take note of their past positions, the training they’ve completed, and the credentials they hold. Whether you’re just getting your career started, looking to pivot, or are a seasoned professional, LinkedIn members are 4x more likely to get hired when leveraging their networks.  

For those seeking to hire, typically a candidate’s first stop is the company’s profile. However, when seeking out specific information, many migrate over to the profiles of the head of the company, employees of the company, or company recruiters. Therefore, if you have a hand in recruitment strategies, it’s a good practice to have an updated profile that reiterates that you are hiring, encourages a candidate’s interest in the company, and informs them on how to apply.   

No matter what your goal is, everything starts with a conversation. LinkedIn is a social network built to bring people together. Start a meaningful conversation with the intent to learn and connect. Initiate relationships with influential people in your target industry by sending a DM, regularly engaging with their content, sharing their posts, attending their events, or joining events they are a part of.  

5 ways to make a connection  

  1. Now that you know the different types of connections and have established your goals you can start sending out connection requests. Sending a connection request is the most direct way to build your network on LinkedIn.  
  2. To connect with people who fit your ideal customer persona and start networking with them, start with a LinkedIn Search. Filter the search results to find people who work in a specific company, industry or provide a specific service. Try advanced LinkedIn search filters to narrow down results even more.  
  3. The “People you may know” section is a handy networking hack for finding quality connections. It highlights people from your college or university, people with similar job roles, people from mutual LinkedIn groups, and includes LinkedIn generated recommendations based on your profile.  
  4. If you’re new to LinkedIn, LinkedIn events are one of the best ways to network. You can network with the organizers of the event, the attendees, and share your thoughts during the live event to inspire people to network with you. LinkedIn events offer a variety of formats, including online workshops, webinars, product launches, meetups, conferences, and more.  
  5. A popular networking tactic is joining a LinkedIn group. LinkedIn groups allow you to reach a targeted audience of industry professionals and establish relationships with people who have common interests.  

Do”s and “don’t”s of connecting  

The “do”s:  

  1. Optimize your profile: Your profile is the most important place to optimize because everyone who is interested in networking with you will visit your profile to learn more. Make sure that it reflects who you are and what your offer.  
  1. Spend time on your LinkedIn summary: This section gives potential customers insight into whether or not you are worth connecting with. It needs to communicate who your target audience is and inspire them to trust you and view you as an authority in your field. For best results, make the first sentence pop, keep the whole summary under 2,000 characters, and use SEO keywords to make your profile search-engine friendly.  
  2. Write content. Utilize posts or articles that demonstrate your expertise in your niche. It’s recommended to post daily, but not always realistic. Find a cadence that works for your brand that you can stay consistent with.   

The “don’t”s: 

  1. Ignore your new connections. Explain what you do and why you want to connect. Show your connections you really care by initiating a thoughtful conversation.  
  1. Leave comments with a response. Show your audience your human side by responding to their comments and asking follow-up questions. It might be a time-consuming task, but it is one of the most effective strategies for generating leads.  

Share relevant posts. Sharing content is an easy way to generate more content without having to create it. Plus it’s a smart way to build relationships with people related to your industry.  Tagging people in your LinkedIn posts directs your audience to their profiles and hopefully they’ll return the favor and share your content on their profiles.

Networking your way to your next great thing 

LinkedIn is truly an incredible platform if you are looking to build your professional network. Whether you are a job seeker, a hiring manager, or someone trying to build your brand as you navigate your career, the growing popularity of authenticity and truth on LinkedIn makes it the place to be. Use these tips for optimizing your profile and connecting and interacting with others to help you network your way to your next great thing.  

Photo by Fauxels on Pexels 


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