THE QUESTION - Do you cast your net wide and connect with everyone on LinkedIn, in the hope opportunities comes your way? OR Do you only connect with people you know personally and have an existing relationship with?
I get asked this question often.
My advice is to keep your connections RELEVANT. Connect with people you know and trust and THEN connect with people who will add value to your network. You may not necessarily know these people but there is an opportunity from both sides to do business.
The beauty of LinkedIn is its ability to help you get introduced to the people who can make a difference to your work. However, you can only get those introductions if the second-degree connections in your search results are people who are connected to someone of relevance and who would happily introduce you. The larger and more haphazard your network becomes, the more tenuous the relationships become...
You should be strategically growing your network every week. My recommendation is to personalise your connection requests - these may or may not be read, but it is a nice touch to add a salutation and a reason for connecting - it humanises the process and demonstrates your value.
My second recommendation is to follow up on your new connections (a week or so later) with a long-form message introducing yourself and articulating your business offering. NOT in a salesy way - more in an educational way. Again there may be no response from the recipient, but at least now they understand why you reached out and what value you can add to their world.
It is important to remember that effective LinkedIn Marketing is all about context and purpose. Both have a place, it isn't one or the other. LinkedIn is all about being visible, adding value and building relationships.