I don’t care how big it is, what can you do with it?

Yesterday we wrote a piece about the importance of actually making contact with your contacts.  Today, we thought it might be worth thinking about whether size matters when it comes to your network.

When we first speak to people about their social media, many of them are concerned with the number of people following them on their various channels. We’ve had clients embarrassed by their lowly 100 fans, and envious of a competitor boasting over 1,000.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – when it comes to social media, size does not matter.

The same is true when it comes to things like LinkedIn and your other networking activities.

You will no doubt have noticed that when you get over 500 connections, LinkedIn stops specifying precisely how many you have.  As a result 500 becomes this wonderful number many aim for, because to have that 500+ next to their name makes them look impressive.

If you know that many people, you must be really well connected.

Apart from that’s not the case.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m conducting a little experiment with LinkedIn at the moment, and part of that means I’m just accepting invites from anyone.

A quick scroll through my last 20 connections (added over the last five days) and I find:

  • 1 person I’ve met once at a networking event
  • 2 people I’ve heard of, have mutual connections with, but have never had a conversation with
  • 13 complete randoms that haven’t even taken the time to start any communication beyond sending a request
  • 4 people I actually know (two of whom are previous clients)

I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual about that, many of us if we take the time to look through our network will find numerous names we don’t recognise, and faces we can’t place.

That’s not a network.  That’s a directory. And it’s pretty useless.

The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect with people you know and trust.  Countless times I’ve asked a genuine connection for an introduction to someone else on their list, only for them to reply “I’ve no idea who they are”.  Great.

Well, plus side they just add people so at least I can introduce myself, but it’s still quite frustrating.

There’s whole swathes of the LinkedIn community that are out there collecting names and numbers, and then, for some inexplicable reason, doing absolutely bugger all with them!

Not only that, but the bigger the network, the harder it is to do anything meaningful with.  When you have over 500 contacts how do you begin to manage that?  How do you code people so you can immediately pin point your history, interactions, commonalities, their potential as a customer, supplier or collaborator?

You have no idea who most of them are – so explain again why size matters?

Everything is better when we stop and take the time to actually connect. I’m not saying for one second you have to delete everyone you can’t sell to (how egocentric is that?), but at least identify who these people are you’re now sharing your cyber space with.

The virtual world will be a better place for it.