Connect, Follow or Message: How to Build the Best Professional Relationships on LinkedIn

October 4, 2019

Building a thoughtful LinkedIn network is a great way to open doors for getting and giving career advice. But, growing your network isn’t just about the quantity of connections you have. In fact, we recommend multiple ways to have enriching conversations and meaningful interactions with people on LinkedIn. 

Know when to connect

Everyone talks about LinkedIn connections and the benefits they provide as you grow your professional career. And that is the truth! But, who exactly should you connect with? Our top recommendation is to connect with people you know and trust. If your network is filled with connections you know personally, it is real and usable, so that each and every connection has the potential to be helpful to your professional life, whether that’s a job recommendation, an introduction, or career advice. 

The benefit of connecting with someone is that you can message them for free at any time, you have access to each other’s shared contact information, and those connections will show up in job postings as someone who could get you in the door with the hiring manager. 

To connect with someone, follow these instructions. You can also manage your invites and current connections in your network tab

Choose when to follow

Don’t know someone personally, but interested in what they have to say? Instead of connecting, consider “following” them. Following someone will ensure their content shows up in your feed, but removes the hurdle of needing to send them a connection request first. This is perfect if you want to learn from established thought leaders in your industry or stay up-to-date on someone you admire. You’ll be able to engage directly with their content through reactions and commenting so you can start to build a professional relationship with them. And, engaging with their content in a thoughtful way can hopefully lead to a confirmed connection down the line. 

To follow a person, company, or topic, click Follow on their profile page. If you don’t see Follow on their page, follow these directions

And, if you yourself are interested in reaching a larger audience on LinkedIn, you can easily make “follow” the primary action when others view your profile by editing your settings. By encouraging people to follow you rather than connect, you position yourself as an expert in your field and reach a diverse audience that goes beyond your connections. Plus, there is no limit to how many people can follow you on LinkedIn. 

Decide when to message

If there is someone you want to engage with but you don't actually know them yet, there is a good chance one of your connections might know them. Use your current network to get a "warm" introduction to start a conversation. 

We’ve made it even easier to send a message to multiple recipients - simply ask one of your connections to start a group message on LinkedIn to help make an introduction. And, if you’re already in a group conversation, members of that conversation can simply @ mention someone they’re connected to in a conversation to easily add them into that message thread. This is a great way to get the conversation started, and could eventually turn into a new, strong professional connection down the line.

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Engaging with people in the right way can help you have more productive, meaningful conversations on LinkedIn. Use these conversations to build quality professional connections that can help you as your career continues to grow.