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Many LinkedIn members wonder how to increase their number of connections in a short period of time. Others wonder if it’s a question of quantity versus quality. The truth is quantity and quality both matter when it comes to leveraging the power of social media for your job search. Let’s start with quantity. Quality doesn’t matter much if you only have two or three connections. You’re not likely to get very far with your networking efforts if your number of connections is miniscule. By the same token, having 10,000 people in your network doesn’t mean much if you don’t have relationships with any of these people, and none of them would be willing to help you if you ask. One way to grow your number of total connections and increase your reach across LinkedIn is to actively seek out very well connected members to invite into your network. Someone who is a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION) with thousands of connections can boost your total number of connections exponentially because the people who are in that person’s first level of connections automatically become your second level connections. If, for example, Michael M. is a LION and has 7,000 first level connections, those 7,000 connections become your 7,000 second level connections once Michael M. becomes a part of your network. If you connect with just five to 10 LIONs, your total number of connections will explode very quickly. With a large number of total connections, you now have the power to connect with an even larger number of people and reach out to them for assistance with your job search. So, if you want to reach Manager X at Company Y, it is very likely that someone in your network will be connected to Manager X. You can find out how well (or not so well) connected you are on LinkedIn by hovering over the Contacts tab and clicking on Network Statistics. LinkedIn will tell you how many people are in your first, second, and third level connections. Another way to grow your connections is to join groups. You can send messages to other group members without having to use InMail. You can also increase the quality of your connections by strategically joining groups that are related to your field. Search for groups by keyword and then join groups that are large and very active. This gives you fertile ground for connecting with people who are knowledgeable in your field and who are in a position to refer you to job vacancies. An added benefit is that groups are a good way to raise your visibility. You can respond to questions posted on the groups as well as news items. If you craft well thought out responses, it will give other group members a reason to reach out to you and invite you into their networks. And of course you can send invitations to group members as well. You should keep in mind though LinkedIn gives you a total of 3,000 invitations you can use for the duration of your membership on the site. So, even though 3,000 sounds like a large number, if you are aggressively networking, you can run out of invitations. But even if that happens, other people can still invite you into their networks.

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