LinkedIn is the most powerful platform for yourself and your business right now. The reach is unparalleled. If you like or comment on a post, all your connections and followers see that you liked it. It’s like Facebook was in 2007. Leveraging this reach can be very powerful.
But you must grow your audience before you can leverage it. This article is all about how to do just that: Grow your LinkedIn Connections and Followers.
To grow on any social media platform you need to have a well built out profile. A professional and impressive profile will do more for you than anything else. None of the following will work if your profile is unclear & unimpressive.
Once you’ve built out your profile you need a structured system to grow your audience. Time efficient tactics you can use to get more connections and followers. In this article I’m going to give you our best tips and tactics that have been used by our team to grow audiences. We use these systems every day and it works well.
WARNING: This strategy is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to be committed to this strategy every day until you reach your goals. If you go dark for a while or slow down on your engagement, LinkedIn will slow down on your exposure making each of your efforts worth less.
Make sure your privacy settings are wide open. Make sure you're not on private mode and people can see your photo if they search you. Privacy settings are wild on LinkedIn because they can be so restrictive. Review each decision closely and decide for yourself if one setting is preferred over the other.
A good example of this is profile viewer visibility. Do you want people to see that you’ve gone to their profile? We do. Maybe you would like to keep that information private.
The important thing is understanding that it’s possible. Make decisions for yourself about what is right for you.
Profile picture is perhaps one of the most important elements of your LinkedIn account. It’s what people first look at to say: “Oh, I know that guy.” In short, there is an art to the LinkedIn profile photo. At a minimum you should have the picture taken specifically for LinkedIn.
Don’t repurpose some old Facebook photo that you “look good” in. Best case scenario people think that you had a professional do it and grant you a bit of clout.
Make sure you have a nice write up in the about section. And don't have any typos for god sake. There are a ton of copywriting services out there that you can hire to write this for you, but this is a terrible idea. You need to write it yourself and then hire an editor to make sure it is written well. You need to include accomplishments in your job history and show your personality.
Think of this as part of an "interview" for why someone might connect with you. For help on how to write something entertaining and "cool" read Hey Whipple Squeeze This.
There are a bunch of other topics to go over like the importance of featured content, articles, and more. But that is not what this article is about.
This is really important. This critical mass says many things about you. It shows that you are established and have met people, you have a network. Proves that you are able to communicate with people in a way that gets them to say yes. Mostly it shows that you’re active on LinkedIn. Which matters.
If you only have 203 connections no one is assuming that you’re posting interesting content. Instead people will ask themselves: “why would I connect with you.”
Use this to your advantage!
Before we move forward with tactics to grow your audience, you need to understand the difference here. If you already know, skip to the next section.
The follow button is perhaps the reason we started trying to grow LinkedIn audiences. The follow button can now be the main and only button on your page instead of connect or message. Now the default option for people is to follow you when they go to your profile. This is big because the minority of people that come to your LinkedIn page will be a worthwhile connection. Most valuable connections come from outbound requests, not inbound.
Once LinkedIn made this change, it really catapulted them into the stratosphere of a being true social network that can be built. That is important for clout. You want to seem larger than life and a strong presence online is interesting. It's what Seth Godin would call a Superpower. You can read our book review of Seth’s Linchpin where he shares all about how important having a superpower is. You don’t want to just be another handshake.
A Follower is someone that is just interested in your content. You are not following a follower. Anyone can follow you.
A Connection is when two people agree to see each other’s content and message each other. You are following a Connection. Not everyone can connect with you, you must accept each request.
This follower/connection difference is a very big one. You can follow all your prospects or centers of influence (if you’re in sales) and engage with their content. They can’t stop it. They could block you, but who would do that just for commenting on posts?? No one.
Here is what you do: Go to a prospect’s profile, follow them. If they like something, you like it. If they comment on someone’s post, you like their comment and reply to their comment. That means like and comment. But not just any kind of comment. Something well thought out extremely positive and supportive. It must be this tone.
Once they start replying to a comment of yours a few times or after 10-15 of these engagements, send them a connection request and complement them on something they’ve done: I love your book, great blog post, etc. This works extremely well.
The law of reciprocity is in full effect here. More about this in the book Influence. After engaging with someone’s content so often and being so nice to them, they will feel obligated to accept your invitation. The key is patience. You need to wait until they know who you are, otherwise you’ll get written off.
Following, engaging, then connecting is a great strategy, but less scalable. It’s incredibly effective for the 100 connections that you really want to build relationships with though. But what do you do to send out connection requests to random people?
There are several options here. Many people say that you should write a custom message and make a big effort. I totally disagree. I’ve found that to be a complete waste of time and extremely ineffective.
Too much text comes off as desperate. This is sales. For more help on how to not come off desperate get better at sales read The Ultimate Sales Machine.
Most DMs are about selling, everyone wants to avoid more annoying sales messages. It seems to me that sending people a long personalized message lets them know that you’ll be sending more long and personalized messages. No one really wants that unless it's from a friend. Which you’ll need to become to get replies.
People aren’t looking for friends though, they don’t want to chat, and they don't care about what you have to say. Imagine them reading your invitation while rolling their eyes. It’s white noise. Also, a lot of people don’t even check their LinkedIn, so you could be spending time writing this elaborate message to someone who isn’t even going to read it.
The structure that we’ve had great success with is sending connection requests with no message at all. Not even using the default message LinkedIn provides. That is done like this.
When people receive your blank request they will only see your profile brief and the response buttons. They will make a snap judgement about connecting with you based on your profile brief. If you’ve built your profile out correctly, they should identify you as a good person to connect with. It’s a much more passive way to get in front of people because you’re not being aggressive at all. You’re not showing your agenda.
The vast majority of the time when you connect with someone they don’t send you messages. Leaning on this stereotype can help you. Say nothing and find out if they connect with people.
Your profile brief is a very important part of this strategy succeeding though. What you do needs to be instantly understood. You also want to look different and interesting. Optimize your profile and you’ll find great success with this strategy.
Invite all your current contacts to connect with you at once. Basically LinkedIn will send a canned message to all the contacts that you have asking them to connect with you. It’s amazing. If you haven’t done this, do it. But watch out for two important distinctions in the process.
The first category asks you if you want to connect with people that currently have a LinkedIn account. Check all these boxes and omit anyone that you want to avoid connecting with.
The next section includes the remaining contacts that "don’t have a LinkedIn account”. This means you would be inviting all these people to join LinkedIn. Don’t do this. Most likely they already have a LinkedIn account and use a different email address.
One popular and Grey or maybe even Blackhat tactic to grow your audience exponentially is to upload massive prospect lists and invite 10,000 people at a time (LinkedIn’s cap). The strategy, which we’re not recommending, involved downloading huge prospect lists from a software like Winmo and uploading them to Google contacts then syncing that with LinkedIn and inviting everyone.
Problem is if too many people say they don’t know you, your account may get flagged and you get put in LinkedIn Jail. Basically means you can’t connect with anyone.
Another concern is all the people that do not accept your request will receive an email reminder about connecting with you. What are the GDPR laws around that? Probably not favorable.
To avoid this email going out, it’s our understanding that it's best to Withdraw all the outstanding requests after 24 hours. This will avoid the email being sent to all these people.
Again, I’m not advising you to do this prospect list upload connection request strategy. I’m sure it’s against LinkedIn’s T&Cs, so talk to a legal professional about the laws here.
(I don’t see what’s wrong with it though. You’re just asking people to connect.)
To grow your connections on LinkedIn you need impressions. Likes and comments are a great way to get more impressions, but you’re not really in control of those. One way to force more impressions is by sharing your posts into groups.
There are a lot of LinkedIn groups for every niche and they come in all different sizes. Sometimes the smaller ones are more valuable even though it looks like you’ll have less reach. A group with fifteen hundred members is definitely worth your time. Not that many people will be posting in that group compared to a group with 400,000 members. Your post won’t get swallowed up by the endless amount of content everyone is posting.
Larger groups are full of self promotion posts. AKA, people doing what I’m suggesting. This also means they have lower engagement. Smaller groups in a specific niche on the other hand are full of real members that are engaged. If your content is relevant to the niche, this is a place where you have a chance to get valuable impressions, connections, & followers.
You can either post directly into a group or share something into a group. I prefer to share and I’ll explain why after showing you how:
To share a post into a group: go to the post > click share > choose Group
Click Home > Anyone > Choose your group > Post
Always share to groups rather than posting again. Especially if you post a lot of videos because it takes way more time to upload videos than it does to copy and paste text. It’s also better to share in groups so you can get a clear CTA at the top of the post without taking away from the valuable content within the original post.
When sharing, write something that tells people what to do. Then copy and paste it, so it sits one over the other like this:
“Follow for daily (industry) posts!”
“Follow for daily (industry) posts!”
We’ve tested this extensively and a straightforward CTA like this gets more engagement than any other text. It lets people know you’re looking for followers or connections and puts this action in their minds and makes them consider it. People don’t know you’re looking for followers. They’re not mind readers. You have to tell them what to do.
*When you share into a group only the group members will see the post, not your entire list of connections.
One of the drawbacks with groups is you can't get into people's feed from a group post. Only hashtags that people follow will show up in your feed. This is the only purpose for LinkedIn hashtags that we can find.
If you use the hashtag #contentmarketing in a post about content marketing, you have a chance to get in the feed of people that follow #contentmarketing.
Also you can only get in people's feed on mobile. It's bizarre and we can't explain it, but we've never seen a hashtag that we follow in feed on desktop, only on mobile. Some of the stuff is really wonky with LinkedIn, but that's just the way it is.
How many hashtags should you use? We’ve tested this to death. Bigger is not better. Just make sure they're very applicable to your post. #digitalmarketing does really well for digital marketing agency leaders. Especially if they post a lot of content about it. But perhaps another hashtag like #payperclick may not perform well. You just have to test and find the hashtags that work for your niche and ignore the others.
One more tip about selecting hashtags would be to choose ones that don’t have an extremely large follower count. Too much competition. Just like SEO. Focus on niche hashtags because there is less competition and you have a much greater chance of LinkedIn “trending” your post. Think about how many people are following #entrepreneurship. Millions. Your post will be white noise. But if you can find something like #localppc. Now I've got a pretty good chance of trending and getting into feeds.
A common strategy for Instagram is the follow unfollow strategy. You could use something like Stim Social for this. It works really well. It follows 2000 people every week and then unfollows them. They're real people and accounts, but the engagement is low, but it's completely painless and effortless.
It would be great if LinkedIn was like that, but it's not. LinkedIn will flag your account for spamming if you follow more than 50-100 people per day. This means getting blacklisted from being able to connect with people and even have people see your posts. Not ok.
When someone follows your profile you get a notification with a clear follow back button, making it super easy for someone to follow back.
But for some reason it just doesn't work. Only 2 percent of the people that you reach out to in this way actually follow back. At that conversion rate, follow unfollow is not going to be a scalable option for growth.
As of this writing, Connection Requests allow 2,000 per day. So go for it!
Some people decide they want to accept every single connection out there and you can do that, but your engagement will suffer. There are systems and tools that are either automated or done by humans or VAs to actively reach out and grow connections for their account as fast as possible, and you can get to 30,000 connections before LinkedIn will cut you off.
If you go for the spray and pray strategy like this, your engagement will suffer big time and your audience is going to be worth nothing. No one is going to engage with your posts. But you can do it. It IS a strategy you can deploy. If you haven't done that and you're interested in instantly growing your LinkedIn account from scratch, that's definitely a step you could take and start with. Certainly if you have less than 500 connections. At that point it’s like whatever, just get critical mass. Get over 500 and start disconnecting from people as your targeted network grows.
Instant growth and critical mass of 500 is not a long term strategy. You want a deep connection with your audience. People in your industry that you are truly connected with.
We advocate to be much more strict and avoid a lot of the people that are recruiters and B2B sales companies that are reaching out looking to sell something. They never engage.
In the event that you do decide to connect with everybody, make sure you unfollow all those people that you connected with, otherwise you’ll never see the people’s posts that matter. And the ones that matter are in your industry.
The hell with cold calling. My strategy is cold content.
This means creating content for one specific prospect. Posting it to your feed and then waiting to see what happens. The best tool for this is Loom. No comparison. Record your screen while having your face in a circle at the bottom.
It’s like magic. You won’t believe how effective it is.
Ideally you want to make a video with your face in it, but it could be written with or without imagery. No matter what it can only be about one company and only one company can be tagged.
Once the content is created you need to post it in-feed. For all to see. That’s why it’s important that it has value for all of your followers and connections.
The topics should always and I mean ALWAYS be positive. Bordering on being too positive and supportive of the company. We’ve tried it all, negative, good and bad, but overly positive always performs better. Think about it logically… Would you share something with your entire audience if it was anything but positive? No. Neither would we. But something positive?? Oh hell yeah. I’m sharing that big time.
And if you're not a content creator, or “can’t figure out what to post about” do this:
Find something interesting and timely that's been published about this company in some sort of press release, blog or even a YouTube video. Then tag the company, link the content, applaud the company for their accomplishment, and provide a bit of expert knowledge and strategic opinion that others would benefit from. Done.
What’s really important is the way you make a thumbnail and how you post it in your profile. That's what it's about. Posting something about the company to get their attention.
Only tagging one company makes the post about THEM. Even if other brands are mentioned, only tag the ONE company.
When you do that, it makes it ultra shareable for people that work at that company. Especially if they had something to do with the accomplishment. You just made them look good. Gave them Social Currency and they want everyone in their network to know it. Every time someone at the company likes and shares the post and they say something that means: “look at the great job I did”. After that all their connections at the company see they shared it. These people like it too and the spiderweb goes on.
What's unique about LinkedIn compared to Facebook or Instagram is that the people managing the LinkedIn company page are often the owners of the company. That's why this is so valuable. There's not a social media manager there. There might be somebody that's posting on the page. As the social media manager. But the owners of the company still see the engagement. They probably get sent the leads from LinkedIn as well. It's an important engagement for their company. So you get their eyeballs.
Now, we've tried tagging people that work at the company in these posts, but that doesn't work. It’s spammy. It has to be passive. Tagging the company and waiting for the company to share it is the right order of operations.
Once you’ve made a video about the company or posted about the company it's really easy to get connections with people that work there. Much more effective than reaching out with a cold connection request.
At the right time each day you are required to like and comment on everyone's posts.
This forced engagement at the time of posting makes the algorithm think that the posts are really well liked. This creates forced virality because the algorithm will push the “successful” post to more people.
With a group of 10+ people, when you post something it should trend on one of the hashtags that you put in your post. This should happen every single time.
We definitely recommend it. LinkedIn Pods work very well.
If you’ve ever received the same exact message from two or three people on LinkedIn it is not a coincidence. There are lead gen automation tools for LinkedIn out there for just such a thing. I recommend activating one of the following to ramp up your connection outreach IF you are comfortable breaking LinkedIn’s Terms of Service. Again, the terms are not the law, they are just the company’s rules. You can use any of these 3 tools for lead gen and connection growth. Yes they work and are incredibly accurate:
Octopus harnesses automation to transform LinkedIn connections into clients. Although simple to use, Octopus is a dynamic LinkedIn autopilot that can automatically visit profiles, send messages to all your first level connections at once, and endorse seven skills on each of your connections. Using Octopus, your profile will also be capable of automatically sending connection requests with personalized details to second- and third-level connections.
A fuss-free way to generate leads; Octopus personalizes your prospects with intuitive features and saves them in a dashboard. After your profile connects with your tailored target market, Octopus can keep your message fresh by sending “thank you” messages, endorse their skills, and continue to send follow-up messages.
Measure your success in real time using Octopus CRM. Data like your social selling index, how many times your profile has been viewed, and how many times it has appeared in searches are all easy to view.
A comprehensive automation platform for your LinkedIn sales strategy, Kennected dependably makes those connections, facilitates appointments, and draws sales.
When you figure out who your target is, Kennected gives you the power to steer multiple campaigns at once. What exactly does a Kennected campaign look like? Every day, you can send personalized automated LinkedIn messages to up to 100 people. The Responses tab makes viewing profiles and checking responses a breeze. A user can be removed from a campaign with a single click.
Kennected is also able to connect your LinkedIn profile with lead generation tools including Hunter.io, FindThatLead, and Anymailfinder. For more effective marketing, import email addresses and other data easily from LinkedIn to your Hubspot.
To help you achieve a dependable revenue stream, Kennected increases your leads. Instead of wasting time messaging poorly-qualified prospects, you will be meeting with prospective clients and making sales happen.
Generate more leads and cultivate connections with Salesflow, a business-to-business platform. Because Salesflow prioritizes following LinkedIn’s terms and conditions, it is nearly never banned. This means a secure and seamless automation process for your company’s LinkedIn marketing.
A dashboard makes it easy to manage all your LinkedIn campaigns in a single place. Artificial intelligence sorts replies received to make sure you focus your valuable time on the conversations that matter the most.
Salesflow makes expanding your sales pipeline easy and intuitive. Unlike other marketing software, Salesflow does not disrupt and will fit smoothly into your existing processes. This simplicity leads to enhanced connection, which means more sales for your company.
After a full year of heavy LinkedIn growth efforts you will no longer just be a newby. The first thing people will see when they look at your profile is how many connections you have and who your common connections might include.
Now if you want to take your profile to the next level and become more than just “another handshake” is to start creating amazing content and posting regularly. This will lead to people telling you how much they love your content. When you meet a connection/follower in person they already know who you are, what you do, and that they like you. Every introduction becomes warm instantly.
LinkedIn is the most powerful social media platform today. The organic reach and growth avenues are unparalleled. Get active with some of these strategies and let us know any we missed!