If you have 501 or more connections on LinkedIn, you become one of the 46% of users who have an “unknown” number of contacts. On the face of it, this means you’re officially a “serious networker”.
Or does it?
Far too many people see the number of connections as a sign of something relevant. Someone with over 501 must be well connected. They must be influential. They must be able to help you. Their business must be doing well. They must be using LinkedIn correctly.
For all any of us know, they might well be using LinkedIn correctly, but the chances are you’re not going to see what goes on behind the scenes. You see that elusive number, and want to emulate it, desperate to have people think those wonderful things of you – simply because you have the required number of connections.
The reality is, it’s rubbish, utterly distracting and a complete waste of everyone’s time.
When I say this to people during their LinkedIn 121 training, they usually come back and ask “how many connections should I have, then?”, hopeful that there really is a magic number that’s going to make all the difference.
They get quite disappointed when I say there isn’t. No number is going to change anything, and suddenly ensure it starts raining referrals.
Forget LinkedIn for a moment, imagine you’re at a real, live networking event. There are 501 people in the room. The place is buzzing, and people are busy talking animatedly in groups. You know there are some really influential people in the room, some of whom might be interested in your products or services. You spend an hour collecting their business cards, and then leave.
You never had a single conversation – but at least you’ve got their email addresses.
You go back to your office, and for the next few weeks you wait for the phone to ring. You were there, you were one of them, why aren’t they calling?
Not a single person in that room knows who you are, or what you do. Why on earth should they call you?
LinkedIn is no different. If you simply collect connections, either accepting every request that comes your way, or sending them out like confetti, then you’ll get the exact same results. No one will get in touch. No one will remember you, and very few will even know you!
It’s easy to say such networking events don’t work, but they do, if you approach them correctly. And the same is true of LinkedIn.
When I get a request from someone with 501+ connections, I’m not impressed. I know that I’m going to disappear into the crowd, another unknown that clicked “connect”. I’m not important, and they’re not going to be important to me.
I always advise people to think smaller, when it comes to LinkedIn connections. Don’t aim for 300, 500, or 1,000 connections. Remember that the fewer connections you have, the more you can engage with them and the better results you’ll see. Those you do connect with, respond to, build a relationship with and reach out to will know you, and they will be willing to help you, recommend you and engage with what you’re saying.
It really is that simple. Please, stop trying to over complicate it.