A question I get asked at every LinkedIn training is the one about what connection strategy to adopt: “Who do I accept and who do I refuse? What are the Pros and Cons of a big LinkedIn Network?
When LinkedIn launched on 5 May 2003, its purpose was primarily to be a virtual address book, a professional network to advance ones career. Since, following the development of all other social networks, its mission has changed and LinkedIn is now positioned as a media platform which “creates economic opportunities for every member of the global workforce. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do. “
Click here to discover LinkedIn’s story in pictures.
As the platform has changed its users behavior is also not the same anymore. Gone are the times where we just had 50 people we know in our network.Nowadays we get more and more invitations from people we don’t know, and who sometimes live on the other side of the world. So yes, it is relevant to ask ourselves the question: ‘Who do I accept and who do I refuse?’
To each his own connection strategy
Giving you the recipe for my connection strategy would be useless to you. It may not fit your business model, your values or your thinking. The purpose of this post is to make you think about your connection strategy. What criteria will you apply each time you receive a non-personalized connection request? Here are some thoughts:
If you’re on LinkedIn for business:
- In which geographical area are you active? If you are doing business only in your own country it makes not much sense to add people from across the globe
- Who is your main contact for business? If it’s the CEO, it is perhaps unnecessary to have only secretaries in your network (but still … you know what they say about executive assistants … they have a lot of decision-making authority on the CEO)
- In which sector or industry are you active?
If you are on LinkedIn to find a job you need to ask more or less the same questions about your professional situation.
Before you begin thinking about your strategy, I would like to give you some
Pros and Cons of a big LinkedIn network
Potential ‘Cons’ of a large network LinkedIn
- We can’t have professional relationships with more than 100 people. That’s right, it is very difficult to have relationships, real professional relationships with more than 100 people. So if we assume that LinkedIn is the platform of business relations, we should not exceed 100 contacts.
- Our reputation is at stake if we accept strangers into our network.Maybe … I’ll let you be the judge …
- We cannot recommend all our contacts. It is clear, we will not recommend contacts that we don’t know.
Potential ‘Pros’ of a large network LinkedIn
- Big network = big visibility. So if you want to increase the visibility of your business, a large network gives you access to more people.
- Big network = a profile that appears more often in LinkedIn search results. The LinkedIn algorithm takes into account the level of relationship in user searches. So if you have a network of 50 people, you obviously appear less often in searches than if you have a network of 1 000 people.
- Access to more people: the bigger your network, the more LinkedIn opens up to you. No more profiles where you are unable to connect with the person because she is outside of your network. At some point, when your network gets to a certain size, you’ll always have a link (2nd or 3rd degree) with the person you want to invite.
- A large network is a “must have” if you want to generate business on LinkedIn. This is called “Social Selling” and yes, it is based on relationships, but in most cases we do business with people we do not know yet. And these are often not those who invite you, but it’s up to you to identify and then approach them in a non-aggressive manner. LinkedIn gives you all the necessary tools. Probably the most important first step is to personalize your invitations!
So LinkedIn is really a great platform to develop a professional relationship, even if it is virtual. Obviously, if the geographical distance allows, you take the discussion out of LinkedIn and talk business over coffee or lunch.
I work with clients on the long term to acquire leads with the Social Selling method. If it’s a topic that interests you, please contact me to discuss.
Think about your connection strategy
You now know all the pros and cons of a big network. So how does that impact your connection strategy? And if you already had a strategy, will you change it given this information?