Before I had 10 000+ connections and gladly accepted any new incoming request. Now after some spring cleaning I have 263 high quality and relevant connections which I will work with and get to know even better and hopefully create something useful from all the hours spent on LinkedIn. My goal is to get interactions on my posts and activity on LinkedIn from my network, and to be able to get that it is impossible to be an open networker cause then your network is full of people who don’t know you and couldn’t care less about what you do.
On LinkedIn, the value of your network is defined by the strength of each individual node in that network. In other words, the better you know each person in your network, and the better that you understand his or her unique talents, strengths and experiences, the better able you will be to leverage that network to advance your career.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a working, face-to-face relationship with each person in your LinkedIn network. But you should at least recognize them from email “cc: lists” at your office, or from online forums and sites where you hang out, or even from past experiences in your own life. Maybe someone asking to join your network recognizes you as an alumnus/alumna of the same university, and is just looking for some career advice as a young professional. The important point is that there should be something that connects you to everyone else in your network.
But here’s the problem: too many people become LinkedIn open networkers. Instead of forming tight, closed networks, they form very wide, open networks. Each node of your network may or may not be relevant to you if you accept every invite, every request. Over time, that can act to diminish the value of your network, putting you at a disadvantage.
This is not to say that your LinkedIn network should be constrained to a certain size – but it does imply that you should give attention to every single person who joins your network. Instead of blindly accepting invitations to connect, think about sending a brief, courteous message back, along the lines of, “Thanks for contacting me. However, I only accept invitations from people that I know. Can you remind me how I am connected to you?”
Most people who are merely trying to build up as many connections on LinkedIn as possible won’t even bother replying, because they weren’t serious in the first place. They are LinkedIn open networkers, who are simply trying to build their connections beyond the magical “500 connections” level.
As a rule of thumb, it’s better to have 50 trusted connections in your LinkedIn network than hundreds of connections that you have absolutely no idea of who they are. Think about it: imagine you are trying to find a new job or you are trying to find new partnership or business development opportunities for your company. Are you really going to invest a lot of time and energy into reaching out to people that you don’t even recognize? And do you actually expect anything of value in return?
In today’s social media-fuelled world, the temptation is to build social networks to an unsustainable size. The more people in your network, the thinking goes, the greater is your influence, reach and power. But is that really the case? If you are a LinkedIn open networker, you might be wildly overestimating the size of your network, thereby diluting the strong connections that really do exist within your network. So don’t be a LinkedIn open networker. If you take the time to really get to know every single person you are adding on LinkedIn, you will be establishing the basis for a powerful social network that you can tap into at any time to help advance your career.