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One of the first things you will want to do after getting your LinkedIn account set up is start connecting to people. After all, this is a networking site, so you won’t get much value out of it if you are not connected to anyone. So the big question is, how many people should you be connected to? Should you try to accumulate as many connections as possible, or should you be selective about the people you invite and accept?

In recent conversations with contract recruiters regarding Social Media Web sites, we found recruiters on both ends of the spectrum. Recruiter Philip Bartfield considers himself to be an “open networker,” meaning that he attempts to connect to as many professionals as possible.

“I view LinkedIn as a large database to source candidates,” said Bartfield, who has over 9,000 connections. “If you search the database, you will produce candidates. It’s a huge resource for talent, and since connections update their own resumes, it’s a self-maintained database for locating talent.”

Melinda Pittman of The Pittman Group, Inc., also is working towards becoming an open networker but says she’s “not quite there yet.” According to Wikipedia, LinkedIn Open Networkers, known as “LIONs,” are LinkedIn users who are willing to accept connection invitations from anyone, even if they have not previously had contact with that person.

For Mike McDonough of General Search and Recruitment, a conservative approach works better. He has intentionally grown his network slowly, only adding a few per week. He currently has around 500 connections. His firm is considered a high-end recruiting firm and not a commodity firm, so he feel that limiting his amount of connections makes those he does connect with feel special.

Despite using different techniques to building their LinkedIn networks, all three contract recruiters have found success while learning how to use LinkedIn for recruiting. As we discussed in a previous blog post, Mike McDonough made $19,000 on a single contract placement he made through LinkedIn and has made four other placements in the the two years he’s used the site. Both Pittman and Bartfield have made two placements in less than a year through LinkedIn, making $30,000 and $35,000 respectively.

So whether you want to connect to everyone possible, just a select few, or somewhere in between, the key is finding the strategy that works best for your business model and provides you with the most value in LinkedIn.

LinkedIn® is a registered trademark of LinkedIn Corporation.

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