My Journey to the 500+ Club (LinkedIn)

Date Published
January 17, 2018

Last month, I passed 500 connections on LinkedIn. I’d like to take this opportunity to write my very first article here and share what I’ve learned along the way.

The biggest thing I’ve learned during my journey to achieving this milestone is that a huge, and often overlooked, part of creating a LinkedIn profile and communicating with others on the platform is developing a strong personal brand. What used to be little more than a business card with your photo on it now includes any/all forms of social media, your website, and online articles written about you – all thanks to the Internet. As far as LinkedIn is concerned, your personal brand is represented by the posts you write to update or communicate with your network. It’s also made up of your likes, comments, and shares. Always bear in mind the actions you take online can directly and indirectly impact your personal brand and how your connections will perceive you while they browse through LinkedIn.

Constant attention toward developing a strong personal brand is vital because your personal brand is how people will remember you. Unlike meeting someone new in person, meeting someone virtually means that they must infer your mannerisms, your voice, and your personality. Although these things are difficult to convey through text, people will make their best judgement based on what they see: your posts, likes, shares, comments, etc. As such, personal branding is a powerful tool if managed correctly.

Your brand is the single most important way you can stand out in your circle of influence.

While discovering and developing my personal brand, I’ve learned how to become a more effective communicator: both through LinkedIn’s résumé feature and its surrounding community. I am now part of nine groups ranging from Java development to startup networking; my résumé has never looked better thanks to the variety of sections I can include using LinkedIn’s platform, and I’ve never had as much traffic to my personal website as I do now.

I’ve also learned how to talk to people. Like, really talk to people. Throughout this journey, I’ve realized that it is not only advantageous to reach out to new people but to also talk with them and learn about their story. This helps to supplement your understanding of their personal brand by bringing a human element to a mere face and name, something the veil of online connection hides.


My favorite questions to ask a new connection are:

  • How did you get to where you are today? What’s your story?
  • What does your typical day-to-day look like now?
  • Where do you see your industry heading? How do you fit into that?

The first question allows a new connection to present themselves to you by laying down any relevant background information. I enjoy hearing peoples’ stories not only because they are all unique but also because it gives me a deeper understanding about why they made the decisions they did to get to where they are today. The second question aims to build an understanding of where they stand now regarding their professional lives. I have found this to be a rather interesting talking point because I can better understand where their interests lie. The third question is special because it invites people to get passionate about their work and speculate on their part in the growth of their industry. Asking this question in-person is even better because you can watch their eyes light up as they talk about something they deeply enjoy.

Each connection is very special, for it is a fellow human being taking time away from their day to get to know you. Therefore, it is important to make their time worthwhile by lending them a sincere conversation, like the one I’ve proposed, and showing that you value their time. I’ve found LinkedIn’s message history tool to be especially useful for chronicling these stories and for taking notes from what your connections have to offer.

Further, leveraging your current connections to form new ones is something of paramount importance. I’ve found that people will often say yes to you wanting to reach out and to further requests if you just ask. When it comes to meeting new people, find a mutual connection, if possible, to facilitate the introduction. This further strengthens that first conversation and instant credibility is formed.


I always try to attend networking events with someone I know already. They can introduce me to people they know, I can introduce them to people I know, and we can both seek new connections together by piggybacking off each other throughout the conversation. This past year I attended both the New Hampshire High Technology Council’s TechOut and the New Hampshire Speed Venture Summit with a group of close friends at the University of New Hampshire. With their help, I was able to meet several entrepreneurs on the cutting-edge of technology. Through those connections, they’ve helped me to meet other fascinating people, and the cycle continues.

The final lesson I have to offer is to be courageous and go for it. When I first got started with LinkedIn, I was hesitant to reach out to anyone and undervalued myself due to my lack of confidence. Over time, I’ve pushed my boundaries by trying new things and being confident. Last year, for example, I was on the fence about attending a local networking event but decided to go very last-minute. I was the youngest person in attendance and the only one without a suit. I networked, entered a raffle, and won a free legal consultation with a trademark attorney regarding my web app, Loggit. I learned that day that you truly never know what could happen by simply “going for it.”

As I finish reflecting on the past few years of developing my personal brand and forming new relationships, I look onward to 2018. I plan on using these skills, further developing them, and learning more for the next 500 connections I make.