5 Reasons You Should Be Accepting Unknown Connections On LinkedIn
According to Jeff Bullas, the average person on LinkedIn has 930 connections. However, according to Steven Mazie, the average Facebook user only has an average of 338 friends. Interestingly, of our Facebook friends, we can only remember around up to 150 meaningful relationships, as Prof Robin Dunbar says, “people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world”. According to The New York Times, the average American knows around 600 people but in a lifetime it’s predicated that we will interact with over 80,000 people.
So why am I telling you all this? Well because I think it tells us something about who and why we are connecting with on LinkedIn.
Most people will tell you that LinkedIn is only for connecting with people you know and that it’s against LinkedIn rules to connect outside of your real life network. It simply isn’t true.
Interestingly, if you pay to go ‘Pro’ on LinkedIn you can connect with anyone – so it can’t be against their rules. If people weren’t connecting outside of their real life networks then the average amount of connections would be significantly lower than 930 based on the above stats.
But why are we/why should we be opening up our network?
- They may be a potential client
If someone has gone to the trouble to try and connect with you, do you not think it’s worth giving them the benefit of the doubt to see why they asked to connect? They maybe a potential client looking to work with you or would like to suggest you to their clients. If I had a pound for every time I had a connection request from someone who is actually messaging me on behalf of a friend or relation to hire me I’d be £10 better off. Seriously though, it happens more than you might expect!
- It allows you access to your target audience
LinkedIn works on the theory of six degrees of separation (read more here) but limits your ability to connect by three degrees of separation. Therefore, the more people you are connected to, the more 2nd and 3rd degree connections you have and your ability to connect outside your network grows; giving you better access to your target audience. For example, I have around 2500 1st degree connections which in turn means I have roughly 2,325,000 2nd degree connections that I can start looking for my ideal clients within. How did I work this out? Well 2500 connections x 930 average amount of connections LinkedIn users have = 2,325,000. Not a bad market place, wouldn’t you say?
- Helps your content get more reach
Added to this, now you have a bigger network, you also have a bigger readership. If you’re a regular LinkedIn blogger (which I highly recommend), then your posts are more likely to get more reads, comments and shares. All of which helps you break into new markets and start creating a name for yourself.
- Connecting widely won’t risk you current network
Contrary to popular belief, adding connections outside of your network won’t harm or risk your current network. Firstly, you can hide your current connections so only you can see them; so if you accidentally add a competitor, etc. they won’t gain access to your network. Secondly, a lot of people worry about spammers adding them, pestering and commenting on their posts. Well I’ve added hundreds of people I don’t know and this has never happened to me but if it did, I can simply disconnect and remove the problem; or better still, report them to LinkedIn!
- Helps you access more groups
Once again, the more connections you have, the more visibility you will have and if you add yourself to a group it’s likely someone else within your network either belongs to the group or is a 2nd degree connection to someone in the group and therefore your acceptance rate into groups will increase. It’s really that simple.
As a general rule, I only accept invitations to connect from people inside the UK, with a profile picture and who are not my competition. But I’m often found breaking my own rules because, let’s face it, it still benefits my reach to connect more openly & widely.
There will be many people who will completely disagree with my approach and think that LinkedIn is about connecting with people you know/have worked with. Each to their own, I’m only offering my opinion. However, from experience, this approach has generated leads & sales for my business and my client’s businesses and I’d like to help you do the same.
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