One of my biggest concerns in the past was how to not accept all the connection requests I receive on LinkedIn - many times, I have thousands of connection requests waiting to be accepted or ignored.
I didn't want to ignore these requests, but through the years, I've learned that we need to keep a highly targeted network if we want to achieve our intended results.
Then I discovered this one simple tip that has helped me significantly increase the number of my followers, while also reducing the number of connection requests I was getting.
And that's by using the follow button as the primary call to action or CTA in my LinkedIn profile.
Align your primary profile CTA with your goals in using LinkedIn
Your Profile CTA is the primary button below your profile photo and headline. The default button is "Connect", which looks like this:
If your goal is to get people to connect with you when they visit your profile, then this is good to have, however if your goal is to get as many followers as possible without connecting (yet), you should change your CTA to "Follow", instead of "Connect".
But before you do that, make sure you understand the differences between Followers and Connections, including, but not limited to, the following:
- If you're connected, you can see each other's posts in your respective LinkedIn feeds
- Your followers can see your posts, but you can't see their posts in your feeds. If you'd like to see their posts, you can follow them, as well
- You can send direct messages for free only to your connections - you need to use InMail, which is available only to Premium Account subscribers, if you'd like to reach out to a LinkedIn member you're not connected with. The number of InMails you can send depends on your Premium Account type
- You can't endorse and be endorsed by those who are not connected with you
- You can't give or ask a recommendation to those you're not connected with
Here's how to make Follow your primary profile CTA:
In the LinkedIn app (or website), click or tap on 'Me', then select 'Settings & Privacy'. You then click on 'Followers' (scroll down to 'Blocking and Hiding' to see this option) then activate 'Make follow primary' by choosing 'Yes'
Once you've selected YES, your profile's primary button will become Follow, instead of Connect. Here's how it looks on Goldie Chan's profile:
Why "Follow" instead of "Connect"?
Not all LinkedIn members are comfortable connecting with you, especially if it's their first time seeing your content on their feeds. But many are willing to follow you to get updates on what you're posting.
If your CTA is to "Connect", you can lose profile viewers who are not ready to connect with you (at least not yet on their first visit to your profile).
And if you've created quality content to increase your visibility and get people to view your profile, you don't want to just lose them. Adding the "Follow" button below your profile headline can help solve this.
Does this mean they can no longer connect with you?
No, using the Follow button won't remove other LinkedIn members' capability to connect with you. When they click on "More" (found beside the "Follow" button), they will have the option to connect.
And because they've exerted more effort just to send you a connection request, it likely signals that they're serious about connecting with you, so it's worth considering accepting those connection requests.
Remember, LinkedIn allows users to have only up to 30,000 1st-degree connections, so be intentional in whenever you send or accept connection requests.
If you have a follower that you'd like to connect with, be sure to send a customized connection request. Thank them for following you and ask if they'd be willing to connect instead. This way, you have total control over who you want to add to your network.
When I changed my primary CTA to "Follow", I instantly gained 300-400 more followers in two weeks compared with having "Connect" as my primary button. I've followed many of them back and connected with some.
Try it out and see what happens.