By Tom Sandford on March 06, 2020

A Linkedin connection plan for the Chief Exec

To: Managing Director

CC: Marketing Director

Subject: It’s time to get cracking with Linkedin


Dear Boss,

It’s time for you to get involved with marketing again. As you’ve seen, the digital channels we’ve previously relied on - pay-per-click, search and email - have become increasingly competitive, pushing up costs and reducing effectiveness. At the same time, customer expectations have changed, the lead time for sales of B2B products like ours has greatly increased.

There is, for the moment at least, a channel that offers good returns for those who play their cards right. Linkedin. And that’s what we need your help with. 

You’ve been aware of Linkedin for several years. During that time we’ve often asked you to ‘get involved’ on the platform. Being the willing sort, you have, largely by sharing company posts and leaving it at that. Well, I’m afraid that we’re at that point in the cycle once more. But this time we have a plan for you to follow.

What follows is your briefing on Linkedin connections for your personal account. Don’t share it with anyone outside the company, however, or the game will be up!

How many Linkedin connections should you have?

Our goal for your personal profile on Linkedin is brand salience. 

A reminder: Brand salience= being front of mind with the target market

Personal profiles offer us the best opportunity to get in front of as many people as possible - at no direct cost - and to keep showing up on their screens. (This is what the agency folks mean when they waffle on about organic reach and engagement)

As the leader of our business, your account is the one most likely to take-off on the platform (and, you’re the one least likely to take off with all your connections to another company). 

Don’t worry about lead generation. We’ll take care of that through the company page and our sponsored posts.

You can connect to a total of 30,000 people. Aim to make full use of that allocation. We’ve been looking for a good reason to keep your profile limited to high-quality contacts only and - from a marketing perspective at least - we haven't been able to find any. 

And don’t worry about losing touch with your old business contacts and clients, we’ve set them up as a list on Sales Navigator (The Linkedin ad on the sales team use) so you can keep a close eye on them.

The advantage of having many thousands of contacts has become clearer as the algorithm developed in the last year. 

You have 930 connections, the average for a CEO. When you publish a post the Linkedin algorithm will push that out to a small percentage of your contacts. If they “like” and - most importantly - comment on that post, that post will get shown to more of your connections and will, ideally, snowball to many thousands of ‘views’.

You don’t need to be lectured on numbers by a humanities graduate, but I'll hammer home the point nonetheless. If you have 30,000 connections, the initial number of recipients will be higher - increasing the chance of post engagement, increasing the reach, helping us meet our goal of brand salience. 

How the Linkedin algorithm works

Before you go ahead and connect with everyone, however, pause. There is more to this than the simple number of connections. 

The key to this plan is comments. They are the fuel for posts and our holy grail. Comments create more data for Linkedin and demonstrate user engagement - everything that Linkedin needs to grow its ad revenue. And so they promote posts that get comments. In fact, commenting on other peoples comments on your posts has been shown to increase a posts visibility by 250%.

Our research has uncovered little to no value in those who share posts, even those who add some commentary. Likes and other reactions are useful but pale in comparison to the impact that comments have on a post. 

Our priority for you, therefore, is to focus on the following

  1. Users with a large number of connections, who...

  2. Frequently comment on other peoples posts, and...

  3. Who are in some way relevant to what we do (making it easier for them to comment on our posts) 

In an ideal world, you may actually be interested in their content too, but you can’t have everything. 

Here, then,  is your playbook for inbound and outbound connection requests...

Incoming connection requests

  • Do you know them? Yes? Connect. 

  • Do you have ~30 shared connections or more? Good.

  • Do they have ~2000 connections? Before accepting, review their activity. 

    • No activity? Reject. 

    • Some activity but no comments? Up to you. If you think they might be interesting, connect, if not, reject. 

    • Frequent comments that go beyond ‘attend our event!’? Connect. 

Connecting with others

  1. Prioritise influencers over target accounts. 

    1. Connecting with competitors is a good idea - they have our audience and will likely have reason to comment on your posts. 

    2. Prioritise volume over customised connection requests. 

      1. don’t worry about crafting a note to each new contact - findings from other accounts show little to no increase in accepted requests with a personalised message.

      2. But do be sure to look at their profile first - seems to make a difference. 

You may be thinking - “that's a lot of work, can’t we just automate that?” And the answer is that yes, we could, and we may. But we haven’t completed our research here. Linkedin is cracking down on automation and blocking accounts. Chrome plugins look especially risky. We’ll follow up in the next few weeks with an automation and content plan. 

In the meantime, help us build the brand.

Go forth and connect!

Published by Tom Sandford March 6, 2020