I’m going to toss in some observations (which, since I’m a “notorious” open networker, may surprise a few members here).
I’ve been a LinkedIn member for 2 1/2 years. Started on the Open Networking path, back when they called it “Dark Side Networking” (remember that, anyone?). Yes, I have a network over 2,500, and yes, it is still growing.
These days, however, I rarely seek out a new connection, except for recruiters, because of a new venture opening soon.
1. I started as a classic Link Collector. I just wanted the biggest pile. Didn’t get contact information, never really thought of how I could use this, it was just “fun”.
2. Many (possibly a majority?) of those who invite strangers neither want nor will give help.
3. All of the comments from those who have tight networks are pretty much correct – If you don’t know someone, you are hard pressed to help or to be helped by them. Those of us with 2,000+ direct connections can’t say much more than “Would you mind forwarding this?” in most cases.
That having been said, I’ve set up practices to get the best use out of my network, as it is and as it is becoming.
A. I answer all my connection requests/acceptances. I send them my contact info, and request theirs, if I can’t get it from their profile or a website.
B. I ask them about themselves, I joke about unique items in their profiles (shark diving, unusual martial arts, whatever – there is usually something).
C. I try to personalize this whole process. I record when we connected, their LI profile URL, and details from their profile.
With luck, I exchange an email or three with about half of my new “connections”.
However, looking back, it is possible that, if I knew then what I know now, I might NOT have gone for the open networking path.
So, think about what you need, the best way to get it, and set up some procedures before you become an avid user.
“When the going gets tough, the tough…. NETWORK”
President, Southron Dreams, LLC
Again, it’s not really about the numbers — it’s about the lack of any real value when there’s no substance underlying an electronic connection. If you have the time to pursue thousands of relationships, more power to you. However, this is usually only doable by a very small number of people whose primary job function is to be a “deal-maker” rather than a “producer”. And even those people will hit the point of diminishing returns.
Thanks, Jon, for sharing your confession.