Is there a LinkedIn Penalty for connecting with too many people?

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This is a great question and one which is relevant to anyone who wants to actively grow their network on LinkedIn.

There is a simple answer and a more complicated answer.

The simple answer is NO. LinkedIn does not penalize members for connecting with too many people, however it does impose account restrictions if it thinks you are abusing the system. I say “it” because much of this happens automatically.

Technically the LinkedIn user agreement states you shouldn’t connect with people you don’t know. In practice, most people connect with others they feel are relevant.

Invitation limit

Each account is allocated a number of invitations that can be sent. When this number is reached, the member can apply to LinkedIn for an increased limit. The limit is 3,000 for new members and 5,000 for more established users.

The maximum number of connections you can have is 30,000. This is strictly adhered to. In fact LinkedIn recently culled all member connections over this number. Members were not given the choice about which connections were cropped. It was ruthless.

Invitation strategy

It is generally regarded as good practice to send a personalised invitation message, however to date, mind that many people will simply click on the tick or cross in their pending invitation box and won’t actually see the message until they check their email. If someone rejects an invitation LinkedIn offer the options “I don’t know this person” or “Report as Spam” if the recipient chooses either of these that will count as a black mark and if a member receives several in a reasonably short space of time their account may be restricted.

Restrictions are usually short lived, e.g. LinkedIn may insist that you know the person’s email before you can connect or in an extreme case they may suspend the ability to send invitations.

In practice LinkedIn are reasonably lenient and if you space out invitations over a few days and back off if you are being asked to always give the email address then you should be OK.

LinkedIn are inconsistent in the way they allow invitations to be sent – sometimes insisting you have an email at other times, allowing even encouraging you to send a default invitation without an email address.

Conclusion

LinkedIn are at best inconsistent in their attitude towards invitations. This reflects perhaps the conflict which comes from wanting to encourage more activity on the site and yet wanting to protect users from spam and intrusive connection requests.

As with most things in life moderation wins the day. Sending out large volumes of invitation requests to people you don’t know and where there are no mutual connections or obvious benefits is likely to trigger restrictions. Everyday users are unlikely to fall seriously foul of LinkedIn account restrictions and if the worst happens and you do, LinkedIn will write to you and ask you to confirm that in future you will behave a little better.

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To connect or not to connect? That is the question.

December 9, 2014 / admin  / 

When I joined LinkedIn in 2006 the general rule was to only connect with people who you would personally recommend. As a result, people were quite discerning about which invitations they accepted and 200-250 connections was considered a significant network.

Today some people have 10, 20 or even 30 thousand first degree connections in their immediate network (30 thousand is the maximum by the way). Clearly there has been a shift in the way LinkedIn is being used. What has caused this? I think there are three factors:

1. LinkedIn, a public company since 2011, wants to dominate the recruitment and business networking/publishing market and has extremely ambitious growth targets. The company works very hard to encourage members to make new connections and have informally relaxed some of the earlier barriers to connecting.

2. Members have recognised a truth about networking: “The bigger your network, the more opportunities you will find and will find you”.

3. Fear of missing out. When you see others chasing numbers it’s hard not to join in.

Let’s take a step back and revisit your business objectives, why are you on LinkedIn? Which of these reasons would you tick?

Broaden your reach

Foster your professional identity

Build the company brand

Generate leads

Drive traffic to the website

Establish thought leadership

Gather market intelligence

If you are in a niche business, then it may be appropriate to connect extremely selectively to maintain the perceived value of your network which in turn will influence how many of your target audience choose to connect with you. For example, in my previous business my target audience was senior IT sales and marketing executives there was no value in me linking to businesses outside this niche.

Another strategy widely used by recruiters is to become a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker). LIONs welcome and accept connection requests from everyone. A LION will usually put this in their headline and display their email address prominently in their profile. The downside of this strategy is although it results in a bigger network the relationships in that network will be weak or in many cases non-existent.

Some people will only connect with people they have met. This will result in a small network with relatively strong relationships, however for most people this is unnecessarily restrictive.

The strategy I use myself and recommend for most businesses is to connect broadly but intelligently. There is value in a bigger network but a bigger network of people with no mutual value is pointless. For example, I had a connection request from a South African landscape gardener recently which needless to say I didn’t accept. I accept about 60% of the invitations I receive.

My target audience is business owners, sales and marketing managers and executives, coaches, and social media managers in the South West of the UK so that is who I send connection invites to. In addition, I link to people I have met online or offline where I consider there is value in being connected which includes many links to people in the US, Australia, and Europe.

Finally, be aware that there are fake profiles out there. If you receive a request from someone with very few connections and a sketchily filled out profile investigate a bit more thoroughly, if in doubt don’t connect.

What criteria do you use to connect? Please share below.

For more information about UK courses click here or contact Greg directly to discuss in-house and online options.

10 Point Recipe for LinkedIn Success

September 24, 2014 / admin  / 

I had the pleasure this month of collaborating with my friend and fellow LinkedIn specialist Sarah Santacroce who is based in Switzerland. Chef Dennis Littley, Food blogger and social media super star invited Sarah and I to appear on a special edition of his show “Good Day Google+” to talk about how to use LinkedIn effectively.

In recognition of Chef Dennis’s standing in the food blogging community we decided to put together our own LinkedIn recipe for success.

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Ingredients (Serves one or a team)

1. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve on LinkedIn.

There are many reasons to be on LinkedIn what are yours? It could be a combination.

  • Broaden your reach

  • Foster your professional identity

  • Build the company brand

  • Generate leads

  • Drive traffic to the website

  • Establish thought leadership

  • Gather market intelligence

  • Other

2. Identify your target audience.

One of the great strengths of LinkedIn is its advanced search capabilities. Depending on your membership level you can filter your search by multiple criteria including relationship, location, current company, industry, company size, job title, group membership, education, post code, keywords to name just some.

The results can then be stored as a “saved search” for further follow up. LinkedIn will also automatically add any new people who meet your criteria to the list and send you a weekly email to tell you about the additions – a great feature.

3. Decide on your approach i.e. your connection strategy

In the early days, LinkedIn instructed members to only connect with people who they would be happy to recommend. Most people adopt a more open approach these days in the belief that a bigger network will mean more exposure and therefore more opportunities.

However, there is a still an ongoing argument between those who accept all connection requests and those who believe in being much more selective. I know some people who will only connect for example with people they have personally met.

My own approach is somewhere in between I accept about 70% of connection requests.

The maximum number of connections that LinkedIn allows is 30,000.

4. Optimise your profile

What do I mean by an optimised profile? This is a profile where all the relevant sections have been completed, which gives a full, accurate and professional representation on who you are and what you offer today. It should have plenty of social proof in the form of endorsements and recommendations to reassure viewers of your credibility.

LinkedIn helpfully display a graphic on the right-hand side of your profile page on the strength of your profile. You should aim for an All-Star profile status.

Profiles that have been optimised generate 5 times more views than those that have not been.

5. Join and be active in relevant groups

LinkedIn has over 2m special interest groups covering everything from drums and bagpipes to social media marketing.

Groups for many people are where the real action is on LinkedIn, a place where you can demonstrate your expertise, build a reputation, and find and engage with potential customers and collaborators.

You can join up to 100 groups. There is no way you can be active in so many of course but by adjusting your notification emails in settings you can keep abreast of what is happening in the most important groups and occasionally dip into to other groups when a discussion grabs your attention.

Remember that as group member LinkedIn allows you to send 15 messages per month to anyone else in the same group. This is a great way therefore to reach out to prospects who you are not currently connected to and a good reason to make sure to join groups where your potential customers are.

6. Being consistently active and visible

As with all social networks rule #1 is to turn up. Post regularly in your top 5 groups. Try to post an update every day on your LinkedIn home page. Any given update is likely to be seen by only 5% or less of your connections so you are unlikely to annoy connections by over posting.

People often comment to me that they have seen my LinkedIn posts which helps me to know it is working.

7. Remember LinkedIn is a social platform

If you really want to be noticed on LinkedIn, notice other people first. Like, comment on and share their posts. Be generous in giving endorsements and recommendations, when merited.

Recognising and affirming other people’s achievements and skills is the quickest and surest way to be recognised for yours.

8. Develop efficient LinkedIn habits

A recent post in a group I belong asked the question, “What is the hardest thing about LinkedIn that stops people using it?”

Interestingly the most common answer was “difficulty in establishing a regular routine.”

Unless you find a way to incorporate LinkedIn into your daily activity then it is unlikely that you will achieve the results you would like.

People in sales and business development roles can easily justify spending one or two hours on LinkedIn every day but for the average user regularly finding 10 or 15 minutes can be a challenge.

If this is you can I suggest you read this article on how to manage LinkedIn on 15 minutes a day.

9. Take advantage of LinkedIn Publisher

In January, LinkedIn announced it was opening its blogging platform to all members. This is currently rolling out. I was lucky to be one of the members to get early access. Speaking from my own and colleagues’ experiences this has been a great success. The posts appear immediately below your photograph at the top of your profile and gradually build into a library so that even older posts attract new viewers and comments.

What has really impressed me has been the level of engagement. Several of my posts have had more than 150 shares and many comments.

If you are an established blogger on LinkedIn, you might be interested in this research by Paul Shapiro on what makes a LinkedIn blog post successful. He analysed over 3,000 LinkedIn posts – read the full article here.

10. LinkedIn and Google+:  a great combination

Whilst LinkedIn is the #1 networking and publishing platform for business it has to be said that at times it can seem a bit dated and lacking in functionality. LinkedIn was born in 2004 before the social media revolution unlike Google+ which is 3 years old and was designed from the ground up as a social platform with lots of great features.

Of course depending on your business it may be that LinkedIn and Twitter or LinkedIn and Facebook are a good combination, but for most business I believe that bring together LinkedIn and Google+ is a rocket fuelled combination.

Indeed, the raison d’etre for this post is a Google+ show where we are talking about LinkedIn – a perfect example. There are many opportunities to cross fertilise both contacts and content between the two platforms.

If you enjoyed this post please share it with others so they can too.

Thanks to Sarah Santacroce for working with me on this post and for Chef Dennis Littley for inviting us both onto his show.

Click through for more information about public, onsite or online Linked courses and consultancy click here.