About a month ago I decided to run a social media experiment growing my LinkedIn connections as much as I could. In this post I am going to report the results.
Growing my LinkedIn connections
Last month I decided I wanted to grow my LinkedIn connections, so I made a growth plan and started my social experiment.
The idea was simple: adding people and being active every day.
I planned to run this experiment for 2 months, but in the end I decided to stop after 1 because at the moment I have to focus on another project. I believe 1 month is enough to get some real results anyway.
Another reason for stopping the experiment was that LinkedIn makes your life very hard if you don’t have a paid account. I got my search blocked twice because I was simply using it daily.
If you don’t want to pay the monthly subscription, the only options are activating the free premium month they offer or using a different account to search people.
Adding people to my network
Initially I planned to add 50 people every day, then I decided to aim for a more achievable goal adding 25 people 5 days per week.
The people I added were mostly C/C++ and Qt developers. That’s because I wanted to play it safe and try to approach people who were likely to accept my request.
When I was adding someone I was always adding a note to my connection request.
My basic note template was something like:
Hi, I am trying to connect with C/C++ and Qt developers for future projects and collaborations. Can I add you to my network?
Nothing fancy, but I was usually adding a little context or side story to it. For example I was mentioning the city or country where the person was based in. Eventually I was also mentioning I had the intention to move in that city/country when it was true.
Something I A/B tested was starting the message with the name of the person I was adding. Surprisingly (for me) mentioning the name of the person you add makes almost no difference. I decided to do it anyway as I believe it adds a bit of style to your message.
Most people did not reply to my message, on average only around 10% did, but I had a short chat with everyone who wanted to.
I tried to publish content and to interact with people every day, but I have to admit I did not do too well here.
I managed to post something 5 times per week, but I did not interact much with people. In particular I almost never commented other people’s posts.
That should not come as a surprise as it’s pretty well known the LinkedIn feed algorithm favourites videos.
The second most successful post was a photo (with a long text), which achieved 2300 views, 26 likes and 2 comments.
That’s a big difference with the video, but I should also point out that I posted that photo at the beginning of my experiment, whereas the video was published in the middle of it.
I started with 1428 connections, so obviously I wasn’t starting from scratch, but I don’t believe this influenced my results. Obviously starting with a new account would have been more challenging, but I am pretty sure any average account could achieve similar results.
After 4 weeks my connections were 1900, which means I got 472 new connections and represents a 33% growth. This was after adding 715 people over 4 weeks. Without considering the people who added me (who are not many), the conversion rate was 66% or 2 in 3 people accepted my connection request.
In this chart the green line represents the connections I was aiming to get. The red line represents the potential connection I could have made if everyone I added accepted my request. Finally, the blue line represents my actual LinkedIn connections.
As mentioned before, I added 50 people every day the first week, then I tuned that down to 25 people added 5 times per week. That’s why the green and red lines are steeper the first 7 days.
This social experiment was time consuming and didn’t make me become a LinkedIn influencer (that was not the goal anyway), but I am very happy with the overall experience and I learned a lot from it.
I have growth my network significantly and I (virtually) met a lot of people I didn’t know before. I also got a couple of (potential) job offers and I am still discussing possible future collaborations with some people.
My posts now get more views (on average), even if I didn’t make it to a number big enough to go viral every time I post something.
Now that the experiment is over I am planning to continue to connect with people on LinkedIn and to interact more. I also want to try to expand my network to other categories of professionals like business developers, managers and potential clients. That will be the real challenge.
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