Make LinkedIn Work for You by Culling Your Connections

What?1
I remember when I first started using LinkedIn around 8 years ago. Back then I would spend about 5 hours a week on it, building a network of people who I thought I may do business with one day.

At the time, I was working in a sales position in the education sector. And while I wasn’t a big fan of social media and didn’t use Facebook, I thought the purpose of LinkedIn was really great. I loved that I could build my personal brand while sharing my thoughts and reading other people’s unique insights about their work.

It may be hard to imagine, but each day I sent personalised invites to between 100 and 150 people! My first major milestone came when I reached the big “500+ connections”, and it just kept going up from there.

In 2016, I decided to move from education to recruitment and it was LinkedIn that helped me land my first job in a new sector. I had amassed around 7,000 connections and was able to reach out and let people know I was looking, which led to an interview and a new position working in technology-focused recruitment.

Being new to this line of work, I wanted to learn everything I could about it and decided to use LinkedIn to help. I scaled up my time on the platform to 3 to 4 hours a day, connecting with people from all areas within technology, eventually clocking 13,000+ connections.

The catalyst for the cull

Over time, I’ve seen LinkedIn go through several key changes. The most significant was when Microsoft bought it in 2016.

Initially, LinkedIn was all about how many connections you had. When you posted something, it was shared with your whole network. Microsoft changed the game, so each post was only made visible to a small percentage of your network. If they engaged with it and found it relevant, it would be shared with more people.

When I realised this, I knew I had to change the way I used LinkedIn. I needed to define my network, and then produce content that would be highly relevant to the people I was connected to.

Knowing I wanted to stay in recruitment and specialise in tech and government, I started disconnecting with anyone who was:

  • in a field completely unrelated to my area of work
  • interstate and in a wildly different field
  • overseas

Instead of adding 100 to 150 connections a day, I was removing them! By the time I finished I had culled 6,000+ connections, and what remained was a solid network who I felt I could add real value to.

My top 5 tips for making LinkedIn work for you

1. Be real, but professional

Since COVID, LinkedIn has become less stuffy than it used to be. People appear to be sharing more of their real selves and letting their unique personalities shine through. However, it’s important to remember the purpose of LinkedIn. It’s not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – so sharing cute pictures of kittens or puppies should probably be avoided unless you’re a vet.

2. Connect with people online so you can connect with them in person

I find connecting with people on LinkedIn is a good first step, and makes it easier to reach out and invite someone for a coffee and meet face to face. This is a great way to get to know people and build a true network.

3. Let LinkedIn be an icebreaker for you

Networking events are tough, but if you consciously connect with people on LinkedIn then you will recognise them in real life. This means you can go up and say hi, and use LinkedIn as your icebreaker by letting them know you are already connected.

4. Keep your network relevant to what you do and where you work

Unless your business extends overseas, stick to local or close interstate connections in fields reasonably connected to what you do for work or are passionate about. This will lead to more meaningful connections.

5. Engage as much as possible

People can only get to know you if you engage with them. Create posts, share useful information, read others’ posts, and comment on them. LinkedIn is not a passive platform – to get the most out of it if you take an active interest.

Bonus Tips

1. Use LinkedIn to help you find your next career opportunity

LinkedIn has great features which make it easy to let people know you are on the lookout for new job opportunities. Whether you’re just thinking of moving on or are ready to move right now, updating your profile could trigger interest or recommendations from people you never even expected.

2. Have patience

LinkedIn will not build your network or brand overnight – it takes time. Share content that you think will help others, and don’t expect anything in return. After a while, you’ll start to see results.