Keep up with the latest hiring trends!

How to go from 40 to 4,000 LinkedIn contacts in 4 hours

How do I get more connections on LinkedInLinkedIn is the largest CV database in the world with over 120 million global profiles including over 7.5 million in the UK (24% of the available workforce), 520,000 in Ireland, 4.6m in Canada, 2.5 million in Australia and 630,000 in Singapore.  If you are an in-house corporate recruiter you can purchase this entire database (or at least the ability to search it and see everyone’s name and profile) for anything between US$2.5k and ¢8k per user per year.  However, if you are an agency recruiter or a corporate recruiter without that sort of budget, the best you can hope for is the ability to see the full names of your first, second and third degree connections leaving you scrambling to build your contact list to see the rest.  If you are lucky enough to ever reach LinkedIn’s current ceiling of 30,000 contacts, you still probably won’t be able to see everyone, unless that is you have completed our Blue Belt in Internet Recruitment course where we show you how to see everyone’s full name with only one contact, even on a free account!

How to get more LinkedIn connectionsThree degrees of separation still shows you a lot of profiles so how does the average recruiter start building their contacts quickly?  How can you get from 40 or 400 to 4,000 quality connections in a short period of time?
The one thing that nearly every recruiter has in common is that we typically have access to some sort of database of contacts.  They may be previous applicants, CVs from the old days when people used to actually apply to jobs on job boards, or it might be a spreadsheet listing people you have interviewed over the years.  Even a small agency typically has an applicant tracking system or recruitment database (call it what you may!) stuffed full of several thousand contacts.  It never ceases to amaze me that these same recruiters are still struggling to reach the illusive 500+ connections when they are sitting on so much candidate data.

Here’s my golden rule when it comes to hyperlinks on LinkedIn: the smaller the print, chances are the more useful the application and this has never been more true than when it comes to adding contacts. Did you know that you can upload all of the contacts from your database or Excel spreadsheet and LinkedIn will tell you which of those people have a LinkedIn profile?  What if I then told you that you could send an invite to these same people, in bulk, with several simple mouse clicks?  You can literally upload and cross references thousands of email addresses and send out invites to connect in minutes.  All you need to do then is sit back and watch your number of connections explode!

Have I got your attention? Good? Let’s grow your connection base.

[box type=”shadow”]

Step 1: You will need a list of e-mail addresses in an Excel spreadsheet.  It doesn’t matter if you have 30 other columns or just one as long as there is at least one column full of email addresses.  Nearly all CRM packages and databases support the ability to export candidate or client details.  If you don’t have permission then chances are that your manager does or your software vendor can perform a data dump.  I’ll deal with the question of why you should consider opening up this data to your recruiters later in this post.

How to add LinkedIn ContactsStep 2: You need to save your Excel spreadsheet as a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file.  If your data already comes in a file that ends in .csv then skip ahead to the next Step.  From within Excel click on “File”, “Save As” and change the file format to “Comma Separated Values”.  Hit save, making sure you save the folder somewhere you can remember such as your Documents or Desktop.  Make sure that your email data is on the first Work Sheet as CSV files don’t support multiples sheets, hence they wont save anything past the first sheet.  If you don’t have a clue what I am talking about, you probably only have one Sheet so just plough on!

Add Connections on LinkedInStep 3: From anywhere within LinkedIn, click on the “Contacts” tab near the top.  It’s the third one from the left.  Now click on the “Add Connections” drop-down that will appear immediately below this tab.

Import Contacts into LinkedInStep 4: A light blue box will dominate your screen. In the bottom left of that box you will see a line of black text that says “Do you use Outlook, Apple Mail or another email application?”. Just below that in small print (see, I love the small print) a clickable link entitled “Import your desktop email contacts”. Click on it.

Step 5: A new window will open that begins “Import your Desktop Email Contacts”; click “Choose File” and go find that little CSV file you saved in Step 2.  Once the dialogue window closes, click “Upload File”.

Add New Contacts on LinkedInStep 6: If you are not immediately brought to a new window showing all of the connections you just imported, do not despair, it’s probably because your list is very large and will take a couple of minutes for LinkedIn to process.  Just go back to Contacts and click on “Connections”.  You will see four tabs along the top beginning with “Connections” and followed by “Imported Contacts”, “Profile Organizer” and “Network Statistics”.  Click on the tab entitled “Imported Contacts”, second from the left.

Increasing your contacts on LinkedInStep 7: Your Imported Contacts page shows all of your imported contacts in alphabetical order, grouping contacts by letter, beginning with A.  To access the “B’s”, “C’s”, “D’s” etc you just need to click on the individual letters to the left.  All of your contact names that are highlighted in black CANNOT be cross-referenced on LinkedIn.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have a LinkedIn account, it just means that they don’t have that exact email address registered against their account.  All of the names that are highlighted in Blue and that display the blue “in” icon to the right of the name are definitely on LinkedIn.  We recommend that you begin by adding contacts that are definitely on LinkedIn, i.e. the “blue” contacts. You will need to manually select the tick-box to the left of their names.  Unfortunately you will need to manually click on every single contact that you want to invite, scrolling through up to 27 pages of results (there is a # page for names beginning with a number or a special character).  Whilst there is a “Select All” option at the top of each page, it will also select the people who aren’t registered on LinkedIn with that email address.  If you send it to these people then it literally just sends them a request to that email address asking them if they would like to join LinkedIn and connect with you. We’re not big fans of this.

Step 8. When you have hand-picked all of the contacts you want to connect with you simply click the “Invite Selected Contacts” button to the right hand side of your screen.  That’s it.  You’re done!


So, the only question left to answer is why a company or agency would allow their staff to use the company’s private applicant or candidate data to expand the employee’s personal connections on LinkedIn?  There are valid points to be made on both sides of the argument but my take on it is this: a socially connected recruiter is a better recruiter. If you are serious about attracting great talent then you need to empower your recruiters with all the right tools and contact data is essential to doing that.  In return I suggest that employers ask that their recruiters share their own contacts with the organisation every couple of months by exporting their connections from LinkedIn (easy to do) and handing over the file.  It’s a two way street after all. That way both parties have “skin in the game” and their is an element of trust built into the deal.

NB, LinkedIn allow you to invite approx 3,000 contacts before requiring you to know everyone’s email address in advance. You can get blocked before 3,000 but  inviting LinkedIn members using the method above does reduce your available requests so use them wisely!  You can keep adding contacts this way, even past 3,000 but the next time you find an old colleague on LinkedIn and try to add them you will need to enter a valid email address before the invite will be sent.  You have been cautioned!

[box type=”shadow”]This tip was one of many shared at Social Talent’s LinkingIn for Recruiters breakfast briefing hosted by APSCO in London earlier this week.  We will be running another APSCO hosted Breakfast Briefing on Tuesday 4th October in 2011; there are a limited number of places available here.

Our NRF & APSCO Breakfast Briefings contain material from our Orange Belt in Internet Recruitment course.


Find out how the likes of IBM, IKEA and Siemens
drive hiring excellence with SocialTalent