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LinkedIn Follow vs Connect: What's the Real Difference?[Detailed Guide With Examples]

Yaro Y.
Updated On
July 10, 2024

Building connections on LinkedIn is more than a professional courtesy—it's a strategic move that can significantly impact your networking and engagement opportunities. Understanding how to leverage the LinkedIn Follow and LinkedIn Connect features can make a crucial difference in expanding your professional network.

LinkedIn Follow allows you to keep up with someone's updates without needing their approval. This is particularly useful for staying informed about industry leaders, influencers, or potential business partners.

On the other hand, LinkedIn Connect offers a more personal relationship. By connecting, you gain access to the person's contact information and have the ability to message them directly, fostering deeper professional relationships.

Navigating between these two options effectively can enhance your networking strategy. Whether you're looking to follow industry trends or build meaningful connections, knowing the difference between Follow and Connect is essential.

To further optimize your outreach strategies, you might also want to explore tools like an AI Sales Script Generator which use AI to create personalized, persuasive sales scripts for emails, video messages, and social media. These scripts enhance engagement and drive sales by tailoring them specifically to your target audience. Additionally, implementing Predictive Lead Scoring can help you identify which prospects best fit your ideal customer profile by using machine learning algorithms to analyze past customer data and current prospects.

Understanding LinkedIn Follow

Definition of LinkedIn Follow

LinkedIn Follow allows you to see updates and posts from another user without requiring a mutual connection. Unlike a 1st degree connection, following someone doesn't grant you access to their full profile or enable direct messaging. This feature is especially useful for keeping up with industry leaders, influencers, or potential leads.

Benefits of Following Someone on LinkedIn

Following someone on LinkedIn offers several advantages:

  • Stay Updated: Receive regular updates and insights from industry experts, thought leaders, or companies you're interested in.
  • No Mutual Consent Required: Unlike 2nd degree connections or 3rd degree connections, following doesn't require the other person's approval, making it easier to keep track of many people without waiting for connection requests to be accepted.
  • Network Expansion: Following can help you expand your network indirectly by engaging with content from people who are not in your immediate circle.

Limitations of Following Connections

While there are clear benefits, there are also limitations to consider:

  • Limited Interaction: Followers can't directly message the person they follow unless that person has enabled messaging options for non-connections.
  • Restricted Profile Access: You won't have full access to the person's profile details as you would with a 1st degree connection.
  • One-Way Engagement: If you're looking to build a two-way relationship or engage in meaningful conversations, following may not be sufficient.

Understanding these dynamics can help you tailor your networking strategy on LinkedIn. For more insights into effective digital sales strategies, incorporating resources like Digital Sales Room and understanding the role of an Account Executive can provide valuable knowledge that complements your LinkedIn approach.

Understanding LinkedIn Connect

Definition of LinkedIn Connect

LinkedIn Connect is the method for establishing a direct link, known as a 1st degree connection, with another LinkedIn user. When you send a connect request and the recipient accepts it, you both become part of each other's network, allowing for more direct interaction and collaboration.

Advantages of Connecting with Someone on LinkedIn

Connecting on LinkedIn offers several benefits:

  • Direct Messaging: Once connected, the messaging capabilities open up fully. This means you can send messages directly to your connections without worrying about InMail credits.
  • Profile Visibility: Connections can view each other's full profiles, including contact information if shared. This visibility makes it easier to understand each other's professional background and interests.
  • Content Sharing: Your posts and updates are more likely to appear in the feeds of your connections, increasing engagement and interaction with your content.
  • Mutual Engagement: Comments and likes on your posts by connections have higher visibility within their networks, amplifying your reach.

How Messaging Works with Connections

Messaging capabilities are significantly enhanced when you're connected:

  • Unlimited Messaging: Unlike following or being followed, a 1st degree connection allows unlimited messaging. This is crucial for ongoing communication and building a professional relationship.
  • Rich Media: You can share documents, images, videos, and even GIFs in your messages. This is particularly useful for personalized outreach or sharing comprehensive information quickly.
  • Organized Conversations: LinkedIn organizes messages into threads, making it easy to track discussions over time. This feature helps maintain continuity in conversations and follow up effectively.

Strategically utilizing LinkedIn Connect can transform how you network professionally. For more insights into business interactions such as Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions, consider exploring this resource.

The Difference Explained

1. Level of Connection

Understanding the difference between Follow and Connect involves examining the depth of interaction and engagement each option facilitates.

LinkedIn Follow:

  • Definition: When you follow someone on LinkedIn, you see their public posts and updates in your feed without being part of their network.
  • Messaging Limitations: Following does not grant messaging privileges. Direct communication is restricted unless the followed person has set their privacy to allow messages from followers.
  • Best Used When:Interested in industry leaders or influencers whose content you want to keep up with.
  • You aim to learn from someone’s expertise without requiring direct interaction.

LinkedIn Connect:

  • Definition: Connecting with someone on LinkedIn adds them to your professional network, allowing mutual access to profiles and activity feeds.
  • Messaging Capabilities: Connections enable direct messaging. This opens up opportunities for deeper engagement and discussions.
  • Best Used When:The individual is a potential business partner, colleague, or client where two-way communication is essential.
  • Strengthening an existing relationship or building a new one that requires regular contact.

When to Use Each Option Based on Relationship Strength:

Weak Ties (Acquaintances, Industry Influencers):

  • Opt for Follow if the individual is a thought leader or influencer whose insights are valuable, but personal interaction isn't necessary.
  • Example: Following a keynote speaker from an industry conference to gain insights from their shared content.

Strong Ties (Colleagues, Business Partners):

  • Choose Connect when you foresee ongoing interactions that necessitate direct communication.
  • Example: Connecting with a colleague from a different department to collaborate on a project.

The choice between following and connecting hinges largely on your intent and the level of engagement required. Understanding these distinctions ensures you are using LinkedIn's features strategically for effective networking.

2. Networking Approach

When deciding between the LinkedIn Follow and Connect options, it's crucial to align your choice with your networking strategy.

Follow Feature:

  • Passive Engagement: Following someone lets you keep up with their updates without initiating a direct relationship. This is ideal for thought leaders, industry experts, or individuals whose content you find valuable but haven't personally interacted with.
  • Messaging Limitations: Followers can't directly message the person unless the individual has enabled Open Profile. This makes it a more passive approach, focusing on content consumption rather than direct interaction.
  • Content Discovery: When you follow someone, their posts and activities appear in your feed, allowing you to engage with their content through likes, comments, and shares.

Connect Feature:

  • Active Networking: Sending a connection request is a deliberate move to foster professional relationships. It implies a willingness to engage in two-way communication.
  • Direct Messaging: One of the key advantages of connecting is the ability to send direct messages. This opens up opportunities for personalized engagement, collaboration, and deeper interactions.
  • Professional Growth: Building connections can lead to endorsements, recommendations, and increased visibility within your network. It’s a proactive approach aimed at mutual growth.

Both Follow and Connect serve the purpose of expanding your network on LinkedIn but cater to different levels of engagement.

Networking Strategies:

  1. Leverage Both Options: Use Follow for industry insights and Connect for building meaningful professional relationships.
  2. Tailor Your Approach: Understand the level of connection you wish to have with each individual. Follow influencers for knowledge; connect with peers for collaboration.
  3. Engagement Timing: Start by following if you're unsure about sending a connection request. Engage with their content first; once you've established some rapport through comments or likes, consider sending a connect request.

Choosing between Follow and Connect depends on your networking objectives and the nature of the relationship you aim to establish on LinkedIn. Each option has its unique advantages that can enhance your professional journey when used strategically.

Tips for Effective Networking on LinkedIn

Write a Personalized Message

Crafting an engaging, personalized message can make your Connect request stand out. Highlight common interests or mutual connections to show genuine interest.

Example:

"Hi [Name], I noticed we both attended the XYZ conference last month and share a passion for digital marketing. I'd love to connect and discuss our insights from the event."

Keep Your Invitation Note Concise and Professional

A concise, professional note explains why you'd like to connect without overwhelming your prospect. Aim for clarity and relevance.

Example:

"Hi [Name], I admire your work in [Industry/Field] and believe we could benefit from connecting. Looking forward to sharing insights."

Engaging Before Connecting

Engaging with a prospect's content before sending a Connect request builds familiarity. Commenting or liking their posts shows that you value their contributions.

Avoiding Invitation Notes

Sometimes, skipping the invitation note can be strategic, especially if your profile clearly reflects mutual interests or professional alignment.

Unfollowing Prospects After Connecting

Once connected, unfollowing prospects whose content doesn't align with your goals keeps your feed relevant. This strategy ensures you're exposed only to valuable content.

Unfollowing Negative Feed Content

Maintain a positive and productive LinkedIn experience by unfollowing connections or pages that generate negative or irrelevant content. This keeps your feed focused on constructive interactions and opportunities.

Effective networking on LinkedIn requires thoughtful strategies and active engagement. By personalizing messages, staying concise, and managing your feed proactively, you maximize the platform's potential for meaningful connections.

Leveraging Followers and Connections on LinkedIn

To maximize your relationship-building efforts on LinkedIn, consider simultaneously following and connecting with individuals. Here's how:

  1. Visit the Individual's Profile: Navigate to the profile of the person you wish to engage with.
  2. Follow First: Click the "Follow" button to start seeing their updates in your feed without sending a connection request.
  3. Send a Personalized Connection Request: After following, click on "Connect" and add a personalized message that highlights shared interests or mutual connections.

By following first, you gain immediate insights into their activities, making your connection request more personalized and informed.

Understanding the difference between followers and connections is crucial for effective LinkedIn networking.

Followers

  • Unlimited followers
  • See your public posts and updates
  • Ideal for thought leaders, influencers, and content creators aiming for wider reach

Connections

  • Limited to 30,000 connections
  • Mutual interaction; both parties see each other's posts
  • Better for building strong, reciprocal relationships

Utilize both features strategically to balance broad visibility with deep, meaningful engagements.

Enhancing Your Profile for More Followers and Connections

Optimizing your LinkedIn profile to maximize both followers and connections involves strategic adjustments. Key actions include switching between the Follow and Connect buttons based on your networking goals, as well as leveraging LinkedIn’s creator mode if you have a significant connection base.

Switching Between Follow and Connect Buttons

Depending on your objectives, you may want to present either a Follow or Connect button prominently on your profile. Here's how you can switch between them:

  1. Navigate to Your Profile Settings: Go to the "Me" icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage, then select "Settings & Privacy".
  2. Select Visibility: In the left-hand menu, choose "Visibility".
  3. Opt for Profile Viewing Options: Scroll down to find "Followers". Here, you can decide whether your primary action button is "Follow" or "Connect".
  4. Save Changes: Confirm your selection and save the changes.

This adjustment allows you to control how people interact with you initially—whether they can immediately connect or follow your updates first.

Utilizing LinkedIn's Creator Mode

For those with more than 500 connections, activating LinkedIn’s creator mode can be a game-changer in showcasing your content to a broader audience:

  • Enable Creator Mode: Go to your profile dashboard and find the “Creator mode” section under “Resources”. Click “On” to activate it.
  • Customize Your Content: You can highlight up to five hashtags related to topics you frequently post about. This helps in reaching users interested in those subjects.
  • Enhanced Profile Features:
  • Profile Display Changes: Your profile layout will shift to prioritize content over traditional metrics like job titles.
  • Follow Button Prioritization: When in creator mode, the Follow button becomes more prominent than the Connect button, encouraging viewers to follow your updates.
  • LinkedIn Live and Newsletter Access: Creator mode unlocks features like LinkedIn Live broadcasts and newsletters, amplifying your reach.

These steps enhance visibility and engagement, ensuring that both followers and connections see the value in engaging with your content regularly.

Strategies for Growing Your Network on LinkedIn

Maximizing your LinkedIn presence requires strategic actions. Here are key methods to amplify your follower and connection count:

Using Banners for More Followers

Profile banners are prime real estate on LinkedIn. Design a compelling banner that encapsulates your personal brand and professional expertise:

  • Visual Appeal: Use high-quality images or graphics.
  • Messaging: Include a succinct tagline or call-to-action that highlights your unique value proposition.
  • Consistency: Ensure the banner aligns with your overall branding across other platforms.

Engaging with Super Fans for More Followers

Building strong relationships with highly engaged connections, or "super fans," can significantly expand your network:

  • Identify Super Fans: Track who consistently likes, comments on, or shares your content.
  • Personal Engagement: Send personalized messages acknowledging their support. This strengthens bonds and often leads to organic referrals.
  • Exclusive Content: Offer them early access to new content or special insights, fostering a sense of exclusivity.

Unique Strategies for B2B Influencers

For B2B influencers, maintaining authenticity while expanding your network is crucial:

  • Accidental Disconnection Strategy: Pretend an accidental disconnection to reengage dormant contacts. Send a friendly message stating the 'accidental' disconnect and expressing a genuine interest in reconnecting.
  • Content Collaboration: Partner with industry peers on articles, webinars, or podcasts. This not only enhances credibility but also exposes you to their network.
  • Thought Leadership: Regularly publish insightful posts showcasing industry knowledge and trends. This positions you as a thought leader, attracting connections seeking expertise.

By implementing these strategies, you optimize your LinkedIn profile for growth and ensure meaningful engagement with both current and future connections.

Limitations and Considerations

Restrictions on Company-to-Company Following Relationships

LinkedIn has certain restrictions that can affect your networking strategy, especially with company accounts. One important limitation is that companies cannot follow other companies on LinkedIn. While this may seem restrictive, there are alternative ways to connect with businesses:

  • Engage through Employee Profiles: Interact with employees who represent the company. Comment on their posts, share their updates, and connect with key personnel to build valuable business relationships.
  • Join Relevant Groups: Participate in LinkedIn Groups where both companies and individuals discuss industry-specific topics. This allows you to indirectly interact with other companies.
  • Utilize LinkedIn Pages: Follow LinkedIn Pages of companies to stay updated on their content and activities. Engage by liking, commenting, or sharing their posts to establish your presence.

Managing Your Connection Count

LinkedIn sets a limit of 30,000 connections per user. To reach this limit, you need to actively manage your connections:

  • Regularly Audit Connections: Periodically review your connections to identify inactive or less relevant contacts. Removing these connections will free up space for new, more valuable relationships.
  • Prioritize Quality Over Quantity: Instead of focusing on increasing numbers, concentrate on building meaningful connections. High-quality connections are more likely to engage with your content and provide value.
  • Leverage Followers: If you have a large number of connections, encourage others to follow you instead. Followers receive your updates without occupying a connection slot, allowing you to maximize your reach.

Understanding these limitations and considerations ensures that you use LinkedIn's features strategically, optimizing your networking efforts while complying with platform constraints.

Conclusion

Achieving success on LinkedIn requires a nuanced understanding of both Follow and Connect features. Each serves a unique purpose in enhancing your professional network.

  • Leverage Follow and Connect Features: Utilize the Follow option to keep up with industry leaders, thought influencers, and potential clients. Use Connect for more direct interactions, fostering deeper professional relationships.
  • Strategic Usage: Recognize when to follow versus when to connect. Following is ideal for staying updated without immediate interaction. Connecting is best for building meaningful, two-way relationships.

pipl.ai can elevate your LinkedIn networking game by offering valuable insights about your connections. Its AI-powered personalization enhances engagement, making your outreach more effective.

Harness the tools at your disposal:

  • Built-in data enrichment
  • Email verification
  • Hyper-personalization

These features ensure your communications are relevant and compelling. Embrace both LinkedIn Follow and Connect strategically to maximize your networking potential.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the difference between LinkedIn Follow and Connect?

LinkedIn Follow allows you to stay updated on someone's activity without being directly connected, while LinkedIn Connect establishes a direct connection with the person, enabling messaging and deeper networking opportunities.

What are the benefits of Following someone on LinkedIn?

Following someone on LinkedIn allows you to receive updates on their activity and posts without establishing a direct connection, which can be useful for staying informed about industry trends or specific individuals.

How does messaging work with Connections on LinkedIn?

Once you are connected with someone on LinkedIn, you can send them direct messages to initiate conversations, share insights, or explore potential collaboration opportunities.

When should I use LinkedIn Follow versus Connect based on the level of connection?

You should use LinkedIn Follow when you want to stay updated on someone's activity without establishing a direct connection. On the other hand, use LinkedIn Connect when you want to establish a deeper networking relationship with the person, enabling messaging and more personalized interactions.

How can I switch between the Follow and Connect buttons on my profile?

You can switch between the Follow and Connect buttons on your profile based on your networking objectives by adjusting your privacy settings. This allows you to customize how others can connect or follow you on LinkedIn.

What are some strategies for growing my network on LinkedIn?

Some strategies for growing your network on LinkedIn include using profile banners to attract attention, engaging with highly active connections for more followers, and leveraging unique approaches tailored to B2B influencers to expand your connections while maintaining authenticity.

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