Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Personal Networks - Quality Over Quantity

I'm a regular reader of a blog called Businesspundit. Recently the author had a post singing the praises of LinkedIn and invited people to join his network. I'm a big fan of LinkedIn too and without a doubt the author will get many invites to join the personal networks of other professionals from around the world - if he hasn't already.

However, I wonder what this will accomplish? When it comes to my LinkedIn network I have a personal rule. I don't accept invitations or invite people to join networks unless I have met them face to face and had a good, honest conversation with them. I do this because I believe in the quality of my network. I'm not in to collecting names. Consider the next time the author needs to speak with a person his network about a business topic that may be sensitive. Will he get more out of the conversation from someone he knows and trusts or will he benefit by conversing with someone he randomly linked to?

If you were to look at my network, it is relatively small compared to some other folks I know. Those folks worked hard at building their networks and did it by adhering to a similar policy I have. I'm not as diligent as they are in using LinkedIn to grow their network and I should make it a point to develop a habit of linking networks to people I meet personally through LinkedIn.

It's an incredible tool if you haven't used it. Just remember that your network doesn't have to be grand. It's quality over quantity.


Rob said...

Hi Justin,
I think it depends on how you use LinkedIn. Using at as a recommendation engine requires that you be very select in who you connect with. I use it as a people search, and never connect through LinkedIn, but find contact information other ways. In my particular case, it makes sense to make my network as large as possible, to maximize the number of profiles I can view during a search.

Justin Beller said...

Thanks for the comment. One other thing I'd like to add is that when it comes to my network, I often refer people to those who I think can help them whether it is personal or business-related. So, when it comes to my network I care very much about the quality of people in it. I never want to refer someone to find that they did a bad job for them or wasn't very helpful. I feel as though that reflects back on me.

When you say it depends on usage, here's a good example. I think of the old saying I'm sure our folks told us at one time or another, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future."

Rob said...

That's a good point, because one of the risks of a large but shallow network is that if you do have to make recommendations to people, you risk making poor ones. I've had people ask me for introductions to people I'm connected to, that I haven't been comfortable making because I don't really know them well enough.