I noticed that among the ten ideas for job hunting in my last post, the idea people talked about the most was using LinkedIn. This doesn’t surprise me. The promise of LinkedIn is to make your network work for you, and that’s enticing.

But the process of building a network on LinkedIn has always felt very nuanced to me. For example, I can never decide when it’s time to send someone an invitation. I feel nervous about it like I am asking someone on a second date — Did the first date go well enough? Do we want to hang out more?

So when LinkedIn co-founder Konstantin Guericke offered to do an interview with me, I jumped at the chance because I want to be better at using LinkedIn myself.

Here’s the interview:

Q: How many connections do I need to make LinkedIn really work for me?

A: Thirty connections is usually enough. But the quality of connections is important — How well the person knows your work so they can make a strong introduction for you.

Q: What makes a connection high quality?

A: Ask yourself what value they can add in an introduction. Your network can include people you work for, people who are working for you, and with you. For example if you’re in sales a customer can make an introduction for you.

Quality is also someone with a lot of connections, but you have to look to see if it’s a superconnected person or someone who is ardent about building up their connections on LinkedIn.”

Q: Why does someone with 500 good connections need to use LinkedIn?

A: If someone asks this person “Do you know someone at Coke,” then the work is on the broker [to figure out who in his network would be appropriate]. Or he can say, “Link to me on LinkedIn.”

Q: What are some ways to use LinkedIn to get a job?

A: Sometimes the hiring manager you are looking for is three degrees away from you, but the company is two degrees. Also, use LinkedIn to prepare for an interview. Often people have their interests listed. Then you can talk about interests or people you might have in common.

Q: Any other tips for using LinkedIn?

A: Once you have the offer, ask people who used to work at the company but no longer work there — they are free to talk. Also, do due diligence on your future boss by finding someone who use to work for the boss; you can type in the company and title and you might find someone who had the job in the past.

Q: How do I get over the fear of my invitation being rebuffed?

A: Over half the time people say yes.

This should have been my cue to say, “So do you want to connect with me via LinkedIn?” It would have been great. I could have spent all night clicking through his 500+ contacts carefully forming a long term strategy to tactfully leverage this treasure. But alas, I did not ask. Not even the Brazen Careerist can be brazen all the time.

9 replies
  1. Heather Mundell
    Heather Mundell says:

    Thanks for doing this interview!

    It helps me with an issue I have with LinkedIn, and that’s when super-connected people whom I have never met and never heard of invite me to connect. In some cases I’ve accepted and then wondered why, because I never contact them. Why would I contact them when they already have 800 people they’re connected to? Or I have said more politely than this, “No thanks – I don’t know you, so how can you possibly know that you want to connect with me and vice versa?”

    So now I’ll look at upping my quantity a bit while keeping the quality too.

  2. penelope
    penelope says:

    I know what you mean, Heather. The best part for me, about the interview, was understanding that all I need is 30 close connections. Makes everything seem more manageable.

  3. Daniel R. Sweet
    Daniel R. Sweet says:

    There is always a little play between the whole quantity of contacts on LinkedIn and their quality.

    I am what is known as a “SuperConnector”. That is, I have nearly 3,000 connections with people from all over the world in all areas of business and life.

    For the record, I haven’t sent an invitation (except at the reuqest of someone else) in the last 6 months or more. Once you get to a certain number of connections, and let people know that you’re open to more, the invitations come to you.

    The idea for me is that I want to “dig the well before I need it”, so I connect to a lot of people. With around 8 million users, most people with

  4. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    I’ve just started to use LinkedIn and it seems to be pretty good. I’ve reconnected with people that I’ve met at conferences and had as instructors. It also seems to be useful for researching career development, see what skills sets are currently most important. I use this information to help me plan what educational courses to take and to decide what volunteer side projects will be useful for my career.

    * * * * * * * *

    Patricia, you make a great point about how you can use LinkedIn to see how other people got to where they are. Seeing other peoples’ paths to places you want to go is very instructive in planning your own routes.

    –Penelope

  5. Dan Eustace
    Dan Eustace says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Really liked the interview with the founder of LinkedIn and expecially the responses. It is so good, I am writing about it….

    Now I don’t know how this works. I place the blog URL into the line above to point to the reference listing.

    Eye-opening…
    Dan

  6. matchmaker
    matchmaker says:

    I baked this last night and it came out delicious. I didn't have buttermilk, so I used regular milk but it still came out cake-y and moist. I think it's a bit better with the powdered sugar as it seems to offset the tartness of the fruit.

  7. Bobby
    Bobby says:

    meanwhile 3 years later: this post is still helpful… between this and another post, I went through my connections and deleted 27 people. Some of them I knew personally which was why I took them off, still others I had never met and felt honored they asked me and I accepted, not knowing the spam that was coming with daily status updates with links to random nonsense.

    Thanks Penelope, for motivating me to take out the trash.

Comments are closed.