Exposing LinkedIn Connection Myths – Part III

Connecting to thousands of people helps you get found!

So let’s check this out.  If a LinkedIn user indiscriminately connects to thousands of people, can they be “found” better?

Let’s start at the top…

How do LinkedIn users search?

LinkedIn novices search with the little magnifying glass found in the top right corner of every page – this performs a basic search for the text entered as keywords.

More experienced LinkedIn users (or those that have read “The LinkedIn Personal Trainer” or some of the other articles on this web site) click directly to the “Advanced” search page.

You enter your terms and LinkedIn give you the results.

Thousands of connections

First – lets define this.

Those that recommend the indiscriminate connection philosophy for LinkedIn have no theoretical maximum number of connections – they’d like to connect to tens of thousands if they could.

But – LinkedIn has a practical limit that users start running out of invitations after 4-5,000, which is why these users will often ask you to invite them to connect – because they have no more invitations left to send.

So we’ll suggest that our indiscriminate connectors have 4,000 connections – reasonably doable by most users and it should be easy to work with.

If you connect to 4,000 users (that you don’t know) you will be “easier to find”

I’ve re-phrased the statement to help us explore it.

Sometimes specifics help clarify situations…

Rocket science

So – if it’s easier to find people when they have more connections, I should be able to test this – with a search for rocket scientists!

My constructed search is for the term “rocket scientist” – quotes included – to find LinkedIn profiles that include the term “rocket scientist”.

456 profiles

That number seems rather small considering the more than 65 million people that use LinkedIn, but maybe there really aren’t that many…

The very top result – has the title “CEO and Chief Rocket Scientist“, is a social marketing professional, and does in fact have more than 500 connections. She is a 2nd degree connection to me. Hah, you say – Steve has been dis-proved!

The second result – has the title “Rocket Scientist & (in between stick throwing) Senior Risk Analyst”, doesn’t appear to be a social marketing individual, has 500+ connections and is also a 2nd degree connection to me! (this isn’t looking good)

The third result – is in fact a “Rocket Scientist” in Munich, has 17 connections, and is outside of my network!

Shocking – how can that be? Perhaps there is nobody else left within my network…

The fourth result – is a “Social Media Rocket Scientist“, has 220 connections, and is a 3rd degree connection of mine.

The remainder of this first page: 460 (in), 1(out), 5(out), 6(in), 1(out), 3(out). [connections (in/out of my network)]

Among the remainder of the 100 profiles that I see, is a woman (in the 52nd spot) that is a third degree connection of mine with 29 connections. Yes, she’s in the result, but dozens of individuals fill search slots in front of her – these other people have less than 10 connections, and are in no way connected to me.

How can that be?

Because search results are ordered by relevance

The default search order on LinkedIn is relevance, and having a “better” profile is much much more important that having connections.  Having connections does not make you more “findable”.

Yes, LinkedIn allows you to select the order, and options include Relevance, Relationship, Connections, Relationship + Recommendations, and Keywords. Relevance is the default.

So – if I really wanted to find people that had a lot of connections, I could find them – but what does that prove? Why would finding someone that fits the criteria I’m using and enjoys connecting to 4000 people be any more helpful to me?

Most people looking for you for a specific reason want to find someone that meets the criteria of being just like you – and for no other reason.

The best way to be findable on linkedIn is to use LinkedIn Profile Search Optimization – that I talked about at the end of last year.

That’s how you get found more often…

I’m listening

And here’s your chance to chime in – did I miss something here?

To your continued success,


Steven Tylock

Social Media Rocket Scientist


  1. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for tackling this topic. LinkedIn is the grandfather of social media tools. As such, it predates the now common practice of establishing popularity through the number of fans, followers or connections you have.

    I’ve been widely criticised for my own practice of running a closed network on LinkedIn. I only connect to people I know personally. I believe it’s important to preserve the integrity of my LinkedIn network since the whole basis of the tool is your professional history. It’s why the profile is, essentially, your CV or resume. Why would I connect with people I don’t know and tacitly endorse them in the process?

    And, so what if you’re more findable, which your research disputes anyway. What good does it do me to be found by people that have no knowledge of my career, ethics, talents, abilities and the professional contribution I can make? I argue it does me no good at all but only serves the person looking to build their credentials on the back of my hard work.

    So, I continue to run a closed newtwork on LinkedIn and promote my Twitter account, @globalcopywrite, as a more fluid and inclusive way to connect.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for weighing in!

    I’m a late comer on the twitter front – and share your completely open point of view.

    But twitter doesn’t suggest anything other than the followed account seems to put interesting things out there, and that’s good too;-)

    Best regards,

  3. There are a couple of much easier ways to increase your visibility and get placed higher in search results:

    1. Connect with at least one super-connector. They’re all connected to each other. Turns out I actually personally know about a dozen of the top 20 connectors, for various reasons, but even one will do the trick. Important, though: don’t just be an electronic connection to them — find one you actually have something in common with and get to know them.

    2. Join groups. Fellow group members show up as like “one-and-a-half” degrees of separation from you, i.e., they show up in search results between 1st and 2nd degree connections when sorting by relationship. Also, you can send private messages to fellow group members free of charge. So finding a few of the largest groups on LinkedIn that are related to your field has multiple benefits.

  4. Scott,

    Both fine options and they still avoid connecting to people you don’t have any relationship at all with…-)

    Thanks for commenting!


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