Why Should You Be Linked In? The Deeper Meaning Behind 500+ Connections.

LinkedIn Profile
I can’t believe I made it!

Three years ago, I created my LinkedIn account. It was a timid first step into the professional world and a door to the next upcoming years as a student at The Ohio State University. Just yesterday, I hit a milestone I had been yearning since “completing” my first profile on this social media site (I don’ think a LinkedIn profile is ever absolutely complete). I can finally click on my Profile and see 500+ connections.

When I first thought about the typical person with 500+ connections, he or she is usually a top executive for a private business, CEO of not-for-profit organizations or a certified speaking professionals who gets paid to travel the globe and share inspiration messages. What am I? None of those. However, I think I have gained a greater understanding how those people gain all of those connections and what similarities we share.

Below are some things I have learned about LinkedIn the past few years that have helped me create a strong profile and actively use my account to build a professional network.

Common Interests

Alpha Xi Delta recruitment
My sorority sister Rachel and I during
formal recruitment. She is a business major
and also has a LinkedIn profile. As you can
guess, we are connected.
One positive of social media is the ability to see common interests (and in LinkedIn’s case, connections) with people in your community and industry. In my LinkedIn Summary, I share some of my interests and passions and what I can and am willing to offer others. It is not just what I am seeking, but what I can do for you too. There is also an Interests section for Additional Info that I share some searchable interests for LinkedIn users.
By searching people with common interests, you can make connections. After finishing our sorority recruitment last weekend, that is a tactic my sisters and I used when talking with potential new members. We found things in common to discuss, and the conversation built from there. The best conversations are had with people who find a commonality. On LinkedIn, you can embrace that connection by sharing content and learning from each other.

Personal Connections

Through my college career, I have gotten to know my personality better and understand what gives me enjoyment. One of those is building personal relationships and strengthening them. From different activities in FFA, Ohio State, AFA and internships, I have met A LOT of people! But, does just “meeting” someone at a conference really make a difference if you do not keep in touch after it has happened? I don’t think so. This is where many of the connections with executives and industry leaders have come from. 
LinkedIn not only provides a better way for them to keep tabs on my progress, but I can see things that are happening in the business world that I may not have heard about otherwise. Since LinkedIn is business-centric, users do not just share funny memes or inside jokes like you would find on Facebook, Reddit or other online social platforms. It is that “professional” content (if you will).
weather meme
This is how we feel in Ohio right now.
How do I remember all of these people I meet at a conference, you might ask? I get their business card in exchange for mine. An awesome application I use on my iPhone is called Cardmunch. It allows you to take a photograph of the front and back of a business card, process the information and store it on your phone. In addition, you can automatically connect on LinkedIn with their app! That, my friends, is efficiency. However, I still keep all of the business cards I receive because I am skeptical of technology sometimes.

Engagement

No, not the engagement of all your Facebook friends posting photos after the holiday season with rings shining bright with diamonds. I mean having engagement on LinkedIn.
Ohio State LinkedIn
The Ohio State University LinkedIn Page is a good
resource as a current student.
Subscribe to news updates. I receive emails tailored to my interests with news articles and user postings. Not only does this keep me learning, but if I find something that will be beneficial for others to read, I can share it too.
Join groups and follow companies. If you are interested in technology or are active in the technology field, wouldn’t it make sense to know what competitors are doing, what discussions are happening for your company and join together in discussion groups on topics relevant to your field? This is where groups and following companies can be beneficial. Just like your connections, the groups and companies will post and can be seen on your home page updates. You can also subscribe to updates from education institutions and join alumni groups from your university. In a few short months, I will be doing just that!
Interact with your connections. Just like having common interests and personal connections, you should stay active with the people on your LinkedIn. Whether it is liking a new profile image, congratulating someone on a new job, endorsing them for a skill or writing a recommendation, interacting with your connections goes a long way. It shows that they aren’t just “one of 500+”, but that they do impact you and your success.
I hope these are helpful. Be sure to share any other tips you might have to build deeper meaning with 500+ connections.