The Ins and Outs of LinkedIn’s Follow and Connect Buttons

Assessing the Ins and Outs of LinkedIn’s Connect vs. Follow buttons in a profession all about relationships

If you have spent much time at all on LinkedIn over the last few years, you may have noticed that when viewing profiles, there are actually two main call to action buttons that may be displayed on a profile. The default is “connect,” but many find it beneficial to utilize the opt-in option of displaying “follow.” 

What differences exist between these buttons’ functionalities?

Connecting with accounts on LinkedIn


The traditional “connect” option requires one party to request to connect and the other party to accept the request before the connection is complete. A complete connection will automatically function as a follow. You will see the content posted and reshared by your first degree connections by default. 

Those with a first degree connection, have much more functionality than just that of a follow. Other than seeing each other’s content on the feed, first connections can:

  • Send messages to those that tighten their privacy settings (those with LinkedIn Premium can message non-connections)
  • Endorse connections for skills
  • Recommend a connection or request recommendation from a connection
Following accounts on LinkedIn


By following a profile on LinkedIn, you will be able to see their content in your feed. This is the only function of a follow. The individual you have followed will not see your content, and you will not be able to message them, endorse them, or recommend them to others (via LinkedIn). 

Why might someone switch to displaying the “follow” button?

Some believe that presenting the “follow” option as the main call to action allows one to more easily position themselves as a thought or opinion leader. Of course, presenting “follow” as the call to action is not all the work required to do this. Someone trying to position themselves as a thought leader or influencer on LinkedIn needs to push out and share meaningful content that will be appreciated by fellow professionals. 

Another vote for the way of the “follow” display, might be cast by someone who is already at a high level in their profession and doesn’t want to be bombarded with connection requests. This person prefers to engage with the connections they have already made in the business and are willing to share their thoughts and content to followers but only want to receive messages and connection requests from a select few. 

Should I keep the “connect” button?

As a public relations professional, we should be concerned with building two-way, mutually beneficial relationships. A junior public relations professional should be actively working to expand their network. They may find it counterintuitive to present their profile with the 

“follow” option as the primary. This can give the impression that someone is not looking for connections and may discourage others from attempting to reach out. 

If you do decide to make the switch to the “follow” option as the primary display, here are a few technical considerations. 

How do I change which option displays?

To make the switch from “connect” to “follow” as your primary display (or to return “connect” to the primary), head over to the Settings & Privacy option. From here, select “Visibility”, scroll all the way to the bottom and select “Followers” (this should be under the heading “Visibility of Your LinkedIn Activity”). Here, there should be a toggle switch labeled “Make Follow Primary.” Enable this toggle switch and watch your followers grow and your requests for connection decrease. 

How do I connect with someone who displays the “follow” button (or vice versa)? 

Fret not, if the professional you want to make a connection with displays “follow” as their primary call to action, you can still request to make a connection with them. While on their profile, notice that to the right of the “follow” button there are two more options, “message” and “more.” Select that “more” option and you’ll see that the “connect” button can be found in the tab that pops up. 

Which display option do you utilize, and why? We’d love to hear your take. 


Is it Worth Switching Your LinkedIn Profile from Connect to Follow?

What is the difference between follow and connect on LinkedIn

Innovative Public Relations is a student-led firm that is part of the award-winning and nationally certified UCM Public Relations and Strategic Communication program. Students interested in a PRSC hands-on university major and exciting career can join the program in one of two ways: (1) traditional on-campus or (2) online. 


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