How Many LinkedIn Connections Should You Have: Quality vs Quantity

One of the more hotly debated issues regarding LinkedIn is how many LinkedIn connections you should have. Some believe that more connections is the way to go regardless of any real relationship you have while others advocate for fewer, more intimate connections.

 

Personally, I prefer more of a hybrid approach. I don’t want 20,000 connections because I think it’d be too much to manage. However, I’m okay moving beyond my inner circle of people I know or have done business with because regardless of what LinkedIn says about only connecting with people you know, they reward those with larger networks.

In reality, there isn’t a right or wrong answer, so I’m giving you five reasons for both sides, which will hopefully help you figure out what approach works best for you.

Five Reasons Why You Should Value Quality Over Quantity

  1. When you connect with people with whom there is potential to add value to one another and grow a real, meaningful professional relationship, the opportunity for engagement is much higher.
  2. If you keep a more intimate network, your connections will feel comfortable that you do in fact have a direct relationship with each person in your network, so they can trust using you as their introduction.
  3. If you do send lot of invitations to people you don’t know, LinkedIn has the “I Don’t Know” and Spam traps, which can land you in LinkedIn jail.
  4. Your News stream won’t be inundated with posts and promotions you don’t care about.
  5. You can maintain some level of privacy. Let’s face it, not everybody is comfortable with letting the world know so much about them.

On the other hand …

Five Reasons Why You Should Value Quantity Over Quality

  1. If you are a jobseeker, recruiter or salesperson – more connections gives you more chances to be seen, to find opportunities and to search for people.
  2. A large number of LinkedIn connections increases your visibility into the LinkedIn network by allowing you to see more full LinkedIn member profiles with or without having a premium account
  3. The more full LinkedIn profiles you can see, the more social media intelligence you have about your business prospects, and employment candidates.
  4. If you have great content to share but no one to share it with, you’re going be moving very very slowly.
  5. The more people you catch in your net, the better the possibility of starting something new. Who knows if one of the people you meet will turn into someone valuable?

A case can be made for either side, but ultimately, you have to do what makes the most sense for you. If you’re a recruiter or sales professional with a wide target audience, then you may lean toward the quantity side. Or if you happen to be in a very specialized niche that relies heavily on tightly knit relationships, then perhaps its best to keep your circle smaller and focus on creating higher levels of engagement.

Wayne Breitbarth at PowerFormula.net created a graphic that breaks down the advantages and disadvantages in relation to the number of your connections.

Courtesy of PowerFormula.net

Courtesy of PowerFormula.net

Conclusion

At the very least, start building your network with people you know, and go from there. Connect with everyone you know and have personally met. Your family, your friends, your current coworkers, past coworkers, people you knew from school or college.

Anyone you’ve met at a trade show, networking function, or company visits. Add them to your network immediately. Once you’ve built a base, you can start expanding at a rate that suits you.

While you should be discerning in your choice of connections, a good measure of both quality and quality strikes a healthy balance. Nurturing your relationships and engaging in effective communication is what turns a large network (or any size network) into a powerful one.

 

Question: What approach do you take in building your connections? Have you seen any measurable results as you expanded past 500 connections? Feel free to put your answers in the Comments section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.