How to Grow Your LinkedIn Network

When you grow your network on LinkedIn, you increase your reach and chances of finding leads for your business

Learn how to find people to connect with on LinkedIn and how to get them to accept your connection requests.

How to grow your LinkedIn network

LinkedIn is a network of people where each member is a node with connections to other people (nodes). Every time you connect with someone, you get access to that person’s network. It also opens up a path for them to find you through search or your content.

When you grow your network on LinkedIn, more people can see your updates and find you through LinkedIn search.

If you want to generate b2b leads from LinkedIn, you need to grow your network by connecting to more prospects and influencers.

Networking on LinkedIn - who to connect with to grow your network

Who you connect with on LinkedIn depends on how you want to use the platform. I will focus on people who want to use LinkedIn for selling.

The four types of people you should connect with on LinkedIn for lead generation:

  1. Your target audience so you can nurture and convert them into leads
  2. Influencers who can give you credibility and introduce you to prospects
  3. Friends, co-workers, and professional contacts like customers and suppliers
  4. Industry networks like Chamber of Commerce, Organizers of popular industry events, etc.

But you need to find them before you can connect to them on LinkedIn. There are a few different ways to do that. Some are quick while others take time:

Search LinkedIn to find people to build your network

LinkedIn search is a good place to find people to connect with. When looking for prospects, type a job title in the search box and hit enter. For example, I entered Founder in the search box:

Grow your LinkedIn network - search step 1

Now click on All filters to narrow down the search by:

  • L1, L2, or L3 connections
  • Connections of your L1 connection
  • Location
  • School attended
  • Current or past company
  • Industry/Service category
  • Keywords

Apply as many filters as you need to narrow down the search as close to your target audience as possible. For example, I help software founders grow their business. So I apply these filters:

  • L2 connections since I am searching to connect with new prospects
  • Location: India
  • Industry: Computer Software
  • Title: Founder

This is the result I got:

Grow your LinkedIn network - search step 2
There are over 1000 people in the search result, more than enough to keep me busy with connection requests for a few months. Simple, right? But there are some limitations to this approach. LinkedIn search has limited filters. Search separately for each title you want to target. There is no way to limit the search results by company size. But more important is that you can’t save the search results. Your only option is to use a tool like PhantomBuster to scrape the search result into a CSV.

Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to build your network

Sales Navigator is an excellent, albeit expensive, tool for building LinkedIn network.
It’s super easy to use and only takes 10-15 minutes to get used to the interface. You can search using several filters like keywords, job title, company, job function and seniority.

Three things I love about Sales Navigator:

  • You can build lists of contacts and companies
  • Sales Navigator saves the lists so you can re-use them later
  • LinkedIn keeps updating the list with new contacts and sends you a periodic update if there is new information about people/companies on the list

Since our goal is to find more people to connect with, we will use the Lead search feature. Here is what I get when apply search filters for my target audience:

As you can see, there are many more filters available in Sales Navigator. You can create well-targeted lists using these filters.

Next, save this list and start connecting with them. While LSN is super useful, it has two limitations:

  • You cannot download the list or use it outside Sales Navigator
  • The Sales Navigator profile URLs differ from the regular URLs. LinkedIn encodes the URL so you can access these only through Sales Navigator.

These limitations are understandable since LinkedIn wants you to pay for this tool every month. But you can work around these with PhantomBuster.

It’s an automation tool you can use to scrape data and automate repeated tasks on LinkedIn.

You can scrape the LinkedIn Sales Navigator link. There is a limit of 1000 URLs in a single run of PhantomBuster. If the list has over 1000 people, you can fire the workflow multiple times.

All you need to do is connect it to your LinkedIn account and give it the URL of the saved Sales Navigator list.

PhantomBuster converts the Sales Navigator encoded profile URLs into regular LinkedIn profile URLs. This is super useful because you can use the downloaded lists even if you cancel Sales Navigator subscription.

Connect with people who interact with posts relevant to your business

This is one of the most effective but least used tactics for building a targeted LinkedIn network. Here is how you do it:

Search LinkedIn with relevant hashtags to find posts related to your business. For example, if you provide software development service, you can search for CIO challenges in 2022.

Look for posts with some engagement, like this one:

Scrape the list of people who engaged with the post and are a good prospect for your business. Not everyone engaging with a post or article will be your target audience. 

Clean up the list to remove people who are not your prospect.

Once again, use PhnatomBuster to scrape the list of people who engage with a post. This is a huge time saver.

Connect with people who visit your profile

If you use LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator, you can see who has viewed your profile. These visits as a missed call!

Send a connection request to people who are your L2 and beyond connections. Of course, you should not connect to everyone who views profile.

Exercise your judgement to decide who to connect with and who to give a pass.

Join LinkedIn Groups to expand your LinkedIn network

LinkedIn has hundreds of groups for every industry and business niche. Groups are a super-efficient way to expand your network and increase reach on LinkedIn.

When you join a group, other members of the group can see your profile.

Once you have the list of people you want to connect with, start your connection outreach campaign.

How to send LinkedIn connection message

LinkedIn limits the number of connection requests you can send in a day to 100. Some people find it too little because they believe in spray and pray. They want to bombard many people with connection requests, hoping some will accept and turn into leads.

This approach violates the spirit of LinkedIn networking and is counter-productive. You will need an automation tool to send a large number of connections requests every day. This will violate LinkedIn rules against bot usage.

You will annoy most of your prospects by sending a canned connection request. Bots dynamically scrape the name of the person to use in the connection request. This creates odd-looking messages if the person uses only an initial for the first name.

The more automated information you use, the more likely there will be problems with your messages. So, I recommend sending manual connection requests.

There are several pluses to sending connection message manually. It complies with LinkedIn policies and is in the genuine spirit of networking.

Send between 5-10 connection requests every day

If you target the right people and craft your message well, you will grow your network by anywhere between 50-100 people every month. That’s a lot of prospects to engage with and nurture.

When you send connection requests manually, you can personalize them and show your interest in the person. It will go a long way in improving connection acceptance rate. 

On an average, automated messages have 8-10% acceptance rate while personalized messages can have a 40-50% acceptance rate.

Follow this three-step plan to increase the chances of your prospect accepting the connection request:

  1. Visit the profile page of the person and start following him/her. The person will get a notification that you started following and may check out your profile. This builds familiarity with you.
  2. Look at each profile to see common points of reference before sending a connection request. You will get more success with connection requests if you can find something common between you and your prospect.

Look at education and work experience to see if you share a school/college or employer. See if both of you are members of a LinkedIn group. Perhaps both of you have similar jobs.

Shared connections are another common reference point on LinkedIn. Connection requests through mutual contacts have higher rates of success. You can ask the common connection to introduce you to the person you want to connect with.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an excellent tool for finding common reference between you and your prospect. When you view the profile of the person on LSN, it will show you what is common between the two of you:

LinkedIn networking with LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Always include a message that the introducer can use for the introduction.

Pro tip:
Search your customers’ network to find prospects. Then ask your customer to introduce/refer you to them. This is one of the most effective networking and selling tactic on LinkedIn.

Craft your LinkedIn connection request message

Take a quick look at the person’s LinkedIn profile. You may find something common between the two of you, such as school, a previous employer, a shared connection, or a common interest.

See what the person has posted/interacted with on LinkedIn. You may find something interesting or common there.

Use whatever information you find to personalize your connection request. Here are some LinkedIn connection message examples.

LinkedIn connection message examples:

LinkedIn connection message template for alumnus:

“Hi <first name>,

I am <your name>. Both of us went to the same school – <school name>. It will be great to get connected on LinkedIn.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

LinkedIn connection message template for common group member:

Hi <first name>,

I am <your name>. I noticed that both of us are members of the <Group Name> group. It will be great to get connected directly on LinkedIn.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

LinkedIn connection message template for shared interest

Hi <first name>,

My name is <your name> and I am <your job title> at <your company name>. Both of us have shared interest in <common interest/industry/function etc.>. It will be great to connect on LinkedIn and learn from each other.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

LinkedIn connection message template for prospects:

Hi <first name>,

My name is <your name>. I read your post about <subject of the post>. Sharing an article on the topic that you may like <link to article>. Would love to connect with you so we can continue to learn and grow together.

Have a great day,
<your first name>

Keeping track of connection requests

It’s important to keep track of your connection requests because

  • You want to make sure your connection messages are working. If you see a low acceptance rate, you need to change your message.
  • Once someone becomes a connection, you’ll need to engage with the person with follow-up messages
  • You will want to withdraw requests that are not accepted for 6-8 weeks. If you have too many unaccepted requests, LinkedIn may limit your ability to send additional requests.

I recommend using LinkedIn connection requests tracker. This Google Sheet is super easy to use and will help you stay on top of your connection requests.

You can filter your list by the message and connection type, so track acceptance rate. The welcome message column makes sure you don’t forget to welcome the new connection to your network.

Once someone becomes a connection, it’s a god idea to send a welcome message to warm up the person to receive more messages from you. 

Use a LinkedIn welcome message template like this:

Hi <first_name>,

Thank you for accepting my connection request!

Look forward to having some interesting conversations with you. Came across/wrote this <information resource> that you will find interesting and useful. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Please tell me if you want to connect to anyone in my network. Will be happy to introduce you.

Have a great day,
<your name>

The welcome message sets the tone for further communication. Your new connection is more likely to remember you because you shared something informative. It may even lead to a call or business opportunity.

Now that you have some connections, let’s it’s time to nurture your LinkedIn connections into leads.

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