LinkedIn Network Connections: How Do You Measure Up?

LinkedIn_Network_Stats_3.7.10You’re on LinkedIn – congratulations!

So, how big is your network?

Without going into a rant on quality vs. quantity (who says we can’t have BOTH?), let’s take a different angle on the size of your LinkedIn network…at your current company, where do you rank in terms of number of connections?

Do you know off the top of your head? Why not?

If you don’t know where you rank at your current company in terms of LinkedIn network connections, here’s how to find out:

How to Find Out Where You Rank In Your Current Company

Go to LinkedIn advanced search and enter in your company in the company field and select “current.”

LinkedIn_Sort_By_Connections3

Then, change the “sort by” from the default of “relevance” to “connections” and hit “search.”

LinkedIn_Sort_By_Connections1

Voila! Now you know where you stand in your company in terms of LinkedIn network size. When I perform that exercise, I can see I am currently the most connected person in my firm.

LinkedIn_Sort_By_Connections4

It’s actually kind of fun to check on other companies to see who the most connected person is:

For example – Deloitte. No surprise here. :-)

LinkedIn_Deloitte_Most_Connected

Try it yourself – check out some companies, peers, and competitors and see who the top 10 most connected are. You’ll find it’s not alway who you would expect!

If someone claims to be a social recruiting “expert,” IMHO they had better be #1 in their company, or at the very least not behind anyone NOT in recruiting.

How Do YOU Rank?

So, I ask again – where do you rank in terms of number of connections with regard to other people in your organization?

Are you #1? If yes – nice work! It means you’ve taken an active role in building your LinkedIn network. Of course, it could also simply be that no one else in your organization leverages LinkedIn effectively. :-)

If you’re NOT #1 in your company, why not, and who is?

Free LinkedIn Accounts vs. Premium LinkedIn Accounts

As a reader of my blog, I’m assuming you fit somewhere in the sourcing/recruiting/talent acquisition space – and having a decent sized network on LinkedIn allows you to run searches taking full advantage of LinkedIn’s search interface instead of having to resort to the imprecise science of X-Ray searching LinkedIn to view results of people outside of your network.

I say imprecise science because when you attempt to target current titles and/or companies via an X-Ray search of LinkedIn, you’re not actually finding all of the available results. Trust me – you’re not.

Of course, if you have a premium account with LinkedIn or you have access to LinkedIn Recruiter or LinkedIn Recruiter Professional Services,  you may be able to see more (even all) search results.

However, that still doesn’t answer the question as to why you don’t have the largest LinkedIn network of connections when compared to your peers in your current organization.

It’s Not a Contest

No – it’s not a contest to see who can build the biggest LinkedIn network, and there is no magic number of connections you need to have. 

However, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook – it’s primarily a professional networking site. You don’t have to be best friends with someone to include them in your network. In fact, many would argue that it’s beneficial to network with people on LinkedIn you don’t know personally because of the simple fact that it expands your network reach and view.

Is connecting with someone you don’t personally know really any different than going to a live, in-person networking event (or seminar, or conference, etc.) and receiving a list of the contact information of everyone who attended, whether you had a chance to mingle with them or not?

Is having the ability to easily reach out to and network with people you don’t know any less “social” than networking only with people you already know?

It could easily be argued that it’s anti-social to not connect with people you haven’t already met, spoken with, or exchanged online messages with.

Not connecting with someone unless you already “know” them just like having a rule that you won’t talk to someone over the phone unless you’ve already met them in person. Who is to judge what connection has to be made first (phone/in-person/email/LinkedIn)?

Final Thoughts

Do you have to be the most connected person in your company when it comes to LinkedIn? Of course not.

However, it’s a worthy excerise to examine why and how someone else in your company has a bigger network than you, especially if they aren’t in some kind of talent identification and acquisition role (doh!).

If you happen to benefit from an employer that affords you premium access to LinkedIn (e.g., LinkedIn Recruiter) – what happens if you leave your current employer and join a company that doesn’t have LinkedIn Recruiter?

For those who only have a free account on LinkedIn – having a large network can mean not having to run an X-Ray search 95% of the time, regardless of location or skillset searched for. Without a premium account, the question may ultimately be what percent of the LinkedIn database do you want to be able to “see” without having to resort to X-Ray searching?

Connecting with people on LinkedIn with relevant skills and experience (i.e., your target talent pool), whether you already “know” them or not, has obvious benefits.

However, the benefits of connecting with people who don’t have relevant skills and experience (i.e., NOT your target talent pool) aren’t so obvious. In fact – some people would say it doesn’t make sense to connect with people who aren’t in your target talent pool.

Those people obviously don’t understand the nature of LinkedIn’s 3 degrees of separation – which works magic in many cases! Sometimes it takes connecting to the “wrong people” to get connected to the “right people.”

Contemplate.

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About Glen Cathey

Glen Cathey is a sourcing and recruiting thought leader with over 16 years of experience working in large staffing agency and global RPO environments (>1,000 recruiters and nearly 100,000 hires annually). Starting out his career as a top producing recruiter, he quickly advanced into senior management roles and now currently serves as the SVP of Strategic Talent Acquisition and Innovation for Kforce, working out of their renowned National Recruiting Center with over 300 recruiters. Often requested to speak on sourcing and recruiting best practices, trends and strategies, Glen has traveled internationally to present at many talent acquisition conferences (5X LinkedIn Talent Connect - U.S. '10, '11, '12, Toronto '12, London '12, 2X Australasian Talent Conference - Sydney & Melbourne '11, '12, 6X SourceCon, 2X TruLondon, 2X HCI) and is regularly requested to present to companies (e.g., PwC, Deloitte, Intel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup, etc.). This blog is his personal passion and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone other than himself.

  • http://uk.linked.com/aaronneale Aaron Neale

    Well said – After performing the above search, it appears I’m the most connected recruiter in the UK and my colleagues constantly take advantage of that when they need help with introductions or simply finding the right candidates.

    I completely agree with ‘connect with the wrong to get to the right’. Even if I’m connecting with recruiters and professionals anywhere in the world, they are always going to be connected to somebody that’s of interest at some point.

  • Christine

    Your post is very witty and I basicly agree. But don’t you feel by accepting anyone’s invitation (including unknown recruiters and/or direct competitors) that they are benefiting from your hours or better years of work on LinkedIn?
    It is a crucial dilemma and not easily resolved.

  • AlainaRivas

    Fun post! I’m third :( I got beat out by two of our sales reps- Interesting. Glenn you have inspired me to add getting to number 1 to my “to do” list.

    Christine, you bring up an interesting topic- I have come across recruiters who do not accept my invitation to connect for that sole reason.

    My thoughts are – It’s there loss. Honestly, I think that thought process is an “old school” mentality- where hoarding your connections was just a part of survival. The industry has changed since that time and openness, transparency and a sense of community within the recruiting world was taken the place of the hoarding mentality that once was. I believe the web 2.0 has a lot to do with this mindset shift. It’s change for the better- embrace it! :)

  • Suzy Tonini

    Thanks for posting this Glen! I was like, surprised to see my face up there, and your little posting cracked me up.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Christine

    @AlainaRivas
    You are right; web 2.0 or 3.0 is about sharing, although I work in a very old fashioned market (Italy) and sometimes accepting invitations from whoever spoils your reputation. Not a wise thing to do from a research standpoint but this is not a meritocratic market :(

  • http://www.dinanrecruiting.com Mark Dinan

    One thing that completely blows about LinkedIn is that the more connections you have, the slower the LinkedIn network becomes. I spoke to them about this, and their solution was to “have less connections.” I agree that connecting with everyone is a great policy, but wish that LinkedIn would have the engineering to support it. If Facebook is the gold standard for system performance, LinkedIn doesn’t even get bronze. They make it difficult for professional recruiters to use their products, with 10 second page load times.

  • http://www.researchgoddess.com Amybeth Hale

    I was surprised that my profile was at the bottom of the first page of AT&T’s LinkedIn people! I thought for sure I’d be first on the list. However, it was cool to discover a former colleague of mine in Houston now works at AT&T also, so it enabled us to reconnect. Great post (as usual) Glen – see you in a couple days!

  • http://twitter.com/erepoker jer L

    who cares
    u can buy or hack it
    1st degree size & measuring your li network is so 2005
    lol

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    @ Jer – Spoken like a #3 at their current company. :-)

    @ Christine – You raise a relatively common question/concern. My take is that anyone who is any good with searching LinkedIn doesn’t need to snoop through any specific person’s connections – they can simply find who they need regardless of who they are or are not connected to. Thoughts?

    @ Amybeth – being #10 out of 71,000+ ain’t bad!

    @ Aaron – congrats on being #1 in the UK and also cracking the top 10 globally with a recruiting-related current title! (I could only manage 16th http://bit.ly/ca74Vh)

  • Christine

    @BBB: in principle you are right, but imagine if you were working in a niche market like me (country small as florida, and only in healthcare) and you were linked let’s say to a nosy HR Director .. wouldn’t that person be looking into your contacts to see if and who you have approached in their company ??? Headhunting is a lot about privacy, otherwise job boards would be more than enough for the recruiting purpose! Thoughts are welcome

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/devino Mark D

    I’m still not convinced that having a big broad network of connections that I don’t know is really helpful. Call me old school, but I attempt to keep my LinkedIn network trimmed to people that I know well, personally and professionally. I can much more comfortable making intro’s of those I know than those I do not.

    My connections are always open & viewable.

    I am #7 at my company.

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    @Christine – I can definitely see your point given your specific situation, location, and industry. Let me ask you this: even if the nosy HR Director could see your entire network (which you can hide most of from view), would they be alarmed if you were connected to most people in his/her company at the 3rd degree? Being connected at the 2nd and 3rd degree level can be completely serendipitous, and not necessarily by design or through any direct effort on your part. By definition, 2nd and 3rd degree connections are indirect connections. Thoughts? Now, if you were connected with many people from their organization at the 1st level, THAT would raise more than an eyebrow. :-)

  • Christine

    @BBB … well of course I am talking about 1st degree connections. Of course my thoughts are applied to this small (and difficult :( market !

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    @Christine – My point is that you can strategically connect with people who are connected to your target talent pool, effectively connecting you (indirectly) to your targets at the 2nd and 3rd degree – NOT 1st degree. Would that work for your specific scenario?

  • Christine

    @BBB – Well what actually happens in my scenario is that 50% of my activity is hunting/recruiting (i.e. identify new candidates) and 50% is “farming” (i.e. monitoring where my larger talent pool is going – 1st/2nd/3rd degree connections). Therefore I am definitely interested in enlarging my broader talent pool (especially with newcomers) although I don’t necessarily need candidates straight away.
    I think this point (hunting vs farming) needs a deeper discussion… do you agree?

  • Cathy Henesey

    Glen
    Do you get to Dallas much…you must if Kforce Dallas is still one of the largest markets for the company like it was when I was there?
    If so, we would like to see if you would like to speak the DFW Texas Recruiters Network….we meet on the first Wed. of the month. I am President and would love to hear you speak….couldn’t make it to sourcecon this year, but our VP of the group, Gail Houston, did for Intuit.

  • E-Nyce

    Be warned that there *might* be an exploit (code loophole) in the LinkedIN API allowing parts of the profile to be “dialed” to whatever setting a coder wants.

    Recently it was discovered that 2 profiles — “John Waly” & “John Bell” — have 209 and over 500 connections. When you see these profiles they were obviously setup to push (spam for) their website offering a resume blast service.

    There’s no way they were able to build that amount of connections w/o having access to the API–otherwise they would be some of LI’s best networkers!

    This alleged exploit also opens the question that profiles may have been *created* thru coding. There’s no doubt that many other profiles also have *truly* bogus connection numbers. Not hard to believe, being that we live in the age of social media “marketing”.

  • http://twitter.com/HeatherKrasna HeatherKrasna

    Nice article. I was pleased to find I am the #1 most connected person at the entire University of Washington’s 10k+ staff.