Monday, June 01, 2009

Quality vs. Quantity on LinkedIn

Are you impressed with LinkedIn members who have thousands of direct contacts in their network?

That's a question I asked LinkedIn users through the Q&A forum. Here's the rest of my question, followed by the answer I voted the best of all the responses.

The Rest of my Question
I've always felt it was better to have only people I know and trust in my network, which keeps the quality high and the volume down.

I see other people with thousands of contacts in their networks. Maybe they have both quality and quantity, I can't be sure. But I'm always a little suspicious that maybe they keep the bar too low.

Personally, I have a fear that if my network is too big, I won't remember who each contact is and how I met him or her. If that happens, I'll feel my network is no longer composed of people I "know and trust," which I believe to be the foundation of a valuable network.

Best Answer
by Alison K Murray, PMO Consultant

I think there are a couple of factors which determine the right strategy for you when using a tool as powerful as LinkedIn.

As I have said on more than one occasion, I see myself as the spider thread connecting an archipelago of talented individualists. Some parts of this grapevine are very active. Others are too busy with the day-to-day stuff that they don’t visit often. I view it as only a factor of time before one of them finds a friend they have yet to meet through me.

So first, isn't it great that a tool like LinkedIn can be used in so many different ways by so many people? Gone are the straight-jackets of formalised database usage! Hooray!

For me, I love connecting islands of technologists and other professionals - many of who don't know each other because they are too busy at the coal face or inventing new things. Sure, some of them know some of their suppliers and, yes, they compete for the same clients.

And yet.... And yet some don't know who amongst a competitor (or even in a different industry) might be able to help them produce a new product/service which would enhance both their bottom lines. The ability to facilitate an introduction is a function of how wide your reach is, how compelling your approach is and how willing to “pay it forward” your “thread” is to leaping from A to D (from them to you to your contact to the target). With 40 million individuals, trying to connect to everyone is probably beyond the realms of possibility for most people.

When viewing each Individual as Entrepreneur in charge of their own destiny, I would have thought you would want to extend your reach as widely as possible - new sales leads, possible partnerships, and of course contact points for investment ideas. That doesn’t mean connecting with any an all, it just means to be open to the possibility of a chance “meeting” which may lead to something more. Unlike cold calling, if you say no to them once, they can’t ask you again.

Whilst Answers and Groups are great forums to extend one‘s thoughts, I would have thought connecting and building relationships one at a time is an activity best practiced daily.

You mentioned your fear. Another big fear is the issue of Trust which I am exploring. Between them, virtually everyone forgets things and we are so used to either fearing being taken advantage of or embarrassed by blurting out the wrong name, that we often hold ourselves back. I recommend smiling instead and blaming it on my age/eyesight.

You may wish to find some of my other answers. One in particular that I'm thinking of which deals with how to avoid the newbie mistake of inviting everyone in your email list to join - I posted it earlier this week, so it should be near the top of my "pile"

Re: People Information Storage
First, did you know that LinkedIn has a notes field for your 1st line contacts, so you can store all the information you need on-line. One disadvantage is that it is only available online and doesn't export, and of course it is only for your level 1 contacts. To use the notes field, open a profile for someone in your 1st tier. Personal Information is in the Right Hand Column - about the third section down - starts with the email address. It is available to anyone - obviously you lose all the information if your contact disconnects from you.

I've taken to setting up personal folders for each individual I meet and storing all the things I know about them in a word document. Then I can use the google indexer or Copernic to search my hard disk if I need to go across the network or dive straight to them. This means I can keep information about any individual locally - Just print the page to a pdf file.

1 comment:

Will Robinson said...

This is a topic that continues to be debated (for good reason).

A network's purpose is to help you leverage other people and their expertise. Simply having a lot of people in your network is worthless if they don't know you (and you don't know them).

See my post: