As with most things in life, one needs to strike a balance between quantity and quality. LinkedIn connections is no exception. This blog is going to focus on the importance of quantity. The next blog in this series will focus on quality.
I like to categorise LinkedIn profiles along the same lines as Martial Arts. There are a number of belts but only one really counts. Most people who take up Karate aim to be a “black belt”. Put another way around, very few people promote the idea that they have a white belt or yellow belt. If you take up Karate as a form of self-defence, having a white belt is better than having no belt at all. However, it is unlikely to scare your attacker or opponent.
So how does this relate to LinkedIn? The “black belt” LinkedIn profiles can be spotted easily, they are the people with the 500+ sign at the bottom of their profile. Of course, you can have more than 500 connections. In fact you can have up to 30,000 which is the ultimate profile. Going beyond 500 connections, I describe as gaining “bans” and it has to be done in stages and one needs to carefully consider the quality of people who are in your network. Having 500 white belt connections is not the same as having 500 black belt connections which I will explain in later blogs. The first benchmark that you want to achieve with regards to connections is a “black belt” status ie having 500+ connections.
As you move up through the different belts, the career opportunities that come to you increase.
So how do you decide what your Linkedin status is from a number of connections perspective? I label people with less than 100 connections as “white belts” ie beginners. These are the people who have either created a LinkedIn status half-heartedly or just started out. They haven’t yet experienced what LinkedIn has to offer them in terms of real career benefits. They may be quite skeptical about social media and prefer to rely on their old and trusted CV rather than their LinkedIn profile. White belts are unlikely to quote their LinkedIn URL on their business card or as part of their email signature.
Between 100 and 200 are the yellow belts or novices. These people have made more of an effort to make connections. They may work for a large company and have invited everyone that they know to connect with them. It doesn’t actually take long before you clock up your first 100 connections. It rarely happens by chance so people with a yellow belt tend to recognise that LinkedIn does offer some value.
Orange belts, intermediates, have between 200 and 300 connections. These people have pushed the boat out a bit further. They may have begun to join groups and followed companies – after all they are half way there to becoming a black belt and having a 500+ status. The trouble is you need influencers within your connections to make a big difference. Most people that you connect with are inactive. One way to measure the influence of your connections is to analyse how many connections each of your connections has. Ideally you want to have more than half of your connections as black belts. Black belts tend to connect with fellow black belts so having an orange belt is limiting when trying to attract influencers.
Green belts have between 300 and 400 connections and blue belts have between 400 to 500 blue. These people are nearly there but often run the risk of thinking that they don’t need to do anymore to build their profile. In fact, it is like digging for gold and stopping a few metres short. The career benefits open up once you reach the 500+ status.
Ok, so the goal is for you to become a black belt. 500 connections is a pretty big target for anyone starting out on LinkedIn. However, it shows that you are an established influencer within your profession and gives you a massive tick when employers and clients look at your profile. Of course, there is more to do to build your LinkedIn profile but the first step is to build your connections.