Many people believe success on social networks is correlated with the size of your network (number of friends/followers/connections/etc.). Such thinking is flawed regardless of the social media site, but it’s especially problematic on LinkedIn. To understand why this is, you need to consider one of the most powerful ways you can use LinkedIn–leveraging existing relationships to build new ones.
The people you already know–your 1st degree connections–trust you to some degree (if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have connected with you in the first place), and you trust them. This mutual trust has real value if managed well, because both parties can serve as a resource to each other. In real world terms, your 1st degree connections should be people who will pick up the phone when you call (or call you back). Why, you ask? That’s where the true power of LinkedIn comes in. If your 1st degree connections are people who will pick up the phone, they can help you learn more about those you don’t know–your 2nd degree connections, that is. Over time, you certainly want to convert those 2nd degree connections to 1st degree connections, but the best way to do that is by meeting them through those they trust.
That’s why less is more. If your 1st degree connections include people who won’t pick up the phone when you call–or whose calls you won’t answer–you’re somewhat useless to each other. It’s better to have 50 great connections where there’s truly mutual trust, instead of having 500 connections that are mostly irrelevant. It’s especially important to remember this when looking for prospects on LinkedIn (see my previous post on that topic), but it’s worth remembering regardless of why you’re connecting with others.
Once again, quality beats quantity. And once again, size doesn’t matter.