Career Warrior Podcast guest Tom Powner offers 3 ways to get started if you want to grow your LinkedIn Network (hint: you do.)

By: Daniel Lorenzo | Marketing Manager at Let’s Eat, Grandma


(Follow along with this podcast episode below!)

It’s 2019, y’all. You don’t need me to tell you the job market is rapidly evolving and digitizing. But there’s one big transition I do need to make you aware of: building your LinkedIn network matters now.

Over the past few years, LinkedIn has gone from a work-flavored Facebook, assumedly populated with sketchy entrepreneurs and over-zealous soccer moms, to a valuable recruiting tool. It’s no longer a convenience but a downright necessity for the savvy job-seeker.

However, I’ll be the first to agree that using LinkedIn to network is really overwhelming.

Maybe you’ve crafted a great summary, headline, and headshot, but you’re still thinking… now what?

Should you start connecting with everyone who gets suggested for you? Should you vet everyone who requests you like a hawk? What about those random requests from people in other countries?!

We recently sat down on our podcast with career expert Tom Powner of Career Thinker (and his gargantuan 10,000-person LinkedIn network) to talk about networking, recruiting and so much more.

He offered some choice tips on how to grow your LinkedIn network when you’re just starting out that we’re pleased to share with you.

3 Tactics to Grow Your LinkedIn Network

An infographic with visual representations of 3 ways to grow your linkedin network: Start in your field, target companies, and find alumni.

1. Cast your nets in your field.

Tom’s first bit of advice is simple: connect with people who do what you want to do! Start with a simple search of your desired job title (let’s say “Digital Marketing Associate”).

Then choose some qualifiers to find relevant people, such as geographic area or sub-industry (i.e., Digital Marketing Associates in Austin, or in Hospitality) and start hitting “Connect.”

Don’t be afraid to be bold — you can even try to connect with recruiters in your desired industry to maximize your results.

2. Make a list of target companies & connect directly with them.

Consider this guru-like piece of advice:

“Apply to the job posting that doesn’t exist yet.”

-Tom Powner, indirectly

Don’t worry, padawan. This won’t be as difficult as hearing the sound of one hand clapping.

What Tom means is that applying to existing job postings isn’t always effective: they’ll often expire soon after you see them. Since 60%–70% of positions (a conservative estimate from Tom) are filled through networking, waiting for the perfect job posting to come around will often make you late to the draw.

A headshot of Career Thinker founder Tom Powner, who gave us these 3 great tips on growing your LinkedIn network.
Career Thinker founder Tom Powner

So, rather than focusing on jobs, go straight to the company. Make a list of companies that you’d most want to work for, and start connecting with people who work at each of them.

Best practice: connect with at least 5 people from each company and follow the company’s page to optimize your chances. LinkedIn’s algorithm will give you better suggestions and information based on your activity, including the companies you engage with.

3. Connect with fellow alumni.

Whether you Hooked ‘Em, Gigged ‘Em, Forked ‘Em, or Rolled Tide, your former classmates can be valuable connections, whether or not you knew each other in school.

Even if someone graduated 10 years before you, going to the same college is powerful connective tissue between professionals (Tom even compares getting a connection request from a classmate to getting a virtual hug!)

Connect with your college’s page and search for alumni groups for your class. Once you find a group, make a post explaining what you do and asking people to connect with you — you might be surprised at who responds!

A Golden Rule as you grow your LinkedIn network

These 3 tactics will guide you as you start gathering connections to grow your LinkedIn network. For all of them, however, you still need to be discreet and strategic with who you request and accept.

We’ll leave you with Tom’s Golden Rule when considering potential connections:

“Always ask yourself: ‘What can I do for this person, and what can they do for me?”


Keep this advice in mind, and get out there and start networking! Be discreet. Be strategic. Add value. Stay classy. (Okay, maybe that last one was just us.)


P.S., we forgot to mention one crucial part in growing your network— a better LinkedIn profile! If only there was a service that could help you write one… oh wait, that’s us!

Sign up now on our homepage for a FREE phone consultation with one of our business writing experts to get a better LinkedIn, resume, and cover letter.

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