Tip from the LinkedIn Rockstars – Advantages to Large Networks

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As a LinkedIn Rockstar, I have an enormous network on LinkedIn; I have actually reached the limit (30,000!). You probably ask yourself, is there an advantage to having connections with 30,000 different people? Yes!

When you have such a high number of LinkedIn connections, not only do you have a greater number of connections to decision makers, but also the quality of those connections goes up. It raises the bar on the level of connections you have.

When you want to expand your network, when you do send an invitation, try to write something personal. The same goes if you receive an invite – write a thank you. A thank you can be an excellent way to get communication started, and you can also use it as an opportunity to put in a link to your site which helps drive clicks.

If you are curious about where you rank in terms of number of connections, go to LinkedIn, your advanced search options, change to ‘search anywhere’, sort by number of connections, and you will see where you fall.

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16 Comments

  1. I’m sorry, but I disagree with most of what you said in this post. Social media is not an arms race. It is not about the number of connections, but the quality of the relationships you have with those connections. You might be able to get closer to a decision maker with 30K connections, but how many of those connections can you honestly believe you have any kind of relationship or connection with? I’m sorry, but LinkedIn is about two-way conversations, not a single voice on a soap box. I wish you and your 30,000 the very best of luck.

    • Cord – there are pros and cons to both (well, really a spectrum of) approaches. I’ve long been an advocate of more selective connecting, at least on LinkedIn. I’ve made the argument that trivial connections break the social graph. It at least partially breaks one of the 3 basic LinkedIn value propositions, the ability to get meaningful, value-added referrals from people who know and trust each other.

      However… the practice of open connecting also enhances another one of the core value propositions of LinkedIn — people search. The more connected you and the people you know are, the more visible you are to others who are searching, and the greater visibility you have to find who you’re searching for. And LinkedIn really is the best people search available. So an open connecting approach is essentially SEO for people search — kind of hard to argue with that.

      As for me, I personally think there’s a point of significantly diminishing returns — I have yet to have anyone effectively demonstrate to me that it’s significantly better to have 15,000 connections vs. 1,500. The visibility increase is trivial, and most of the additional people who you’ll be able to see have incomplete profiles and/or aren’t active on LinkedIn anyway.

      In general, I recommend somewhere closer to the middle of the spectrum — get 90% of the benefits of a very large network with only about 10% of the work. I feel a blog post coming on :-), but in short:

      1. Connect asymmetrically with people who know you, though you may not know them, and vice-versa.

      2. Join a few large groups, particularly a) within your industry and b) that would be of interest to your potential customers.

      3. Meet the mega-connectors. Just 2-3 direct connections will put you within 3 degrees of most of the active LinkedIn users. I’m fortunate that about 10 of the top 50 connectors are people I actually know pretty well (and didn’t meet via LinkedIn).

      So while the more open practice may not be my personal preference, and probably not what I would recommend for most people, I do get it, and I recognize that for some people, it may be exactly the right approach. Who? People who are in the business of connecting people — people who run networking groups, recruiters, real estate brokers/agents, venture capitalists, etc. Guess what industries most of the top 50 connectors are in? 🙂

  2. Lori,

    I’m so jealous. I’ve been trying to increase my links. I’m a personal trainer in san antonio, and I feel that linked in is often overlooked as a source of clients, but I don’t really know how to begin to cultivate, more relationships. Can you write a post about that?

  3. @cord,

    I definitely see your point however, you obviously do not have a background in marketing in 2011, or any direct marketing for that matter. If you did, you would know, one of the most important things of any business is “building a list” and then marketing to that list. Having a list of 30,000 professionals and all of their connections, is a huge feat and asset in the hands of a skilled relationship marketer.

  4. @cord again. Well I checked out your site, and I instantly realize that I put my foot in mouth,lol, however, you still should know better! I’ve make enough marketing to a small list of less than a hundred to live a descent lifestyle to most and lavish to some. If I had 30,000 linked in connections, jeez!
    I would be a very wealthy personal trainer!

  5. @Chris – I do know better and if you think the road to riches in personal training is to get 30,000 connections on LinkedIn, I think you are going to be disappointed. You want to be successful, you do the same thing you would do if the internet and LinkedIn was not around – you focus on developing strong relationships so your clients will talk and recommend you to others. I wish you the best of luck.

  6. Definitely quality over quantity for me. In fact, I consciously trim down my contacts list. And the weird thing is that the smaller my list gets, the more network requests come in. 🙂

    Richard LeGrand

  7. Great comments by all. I find it interesting that people are so focused on my numbers, no one asks about the relationships I’ve created and cultivated because I was found and found others of like mind. I’ve built not only a large network of connections that are one step closer to business, but some of my very best friends now I can point to being a networker open to shaking hands with strangers.

    Carol Smith, Scott Allen, Steven Groves, Tim Gillette, Dean DeLisle, Russell Sparkman, and oh so many others friends that I cannot count them on two hands and feet… These very rich relationships–both personal and professional–are part of my life now because of my policy to be open to what people have to offer.

    By the way, I met my business and life partner, Mike O’Neil, The LinkedIn Rockstar on LinkedIn. I found him in a search when I had 185 connections and he had 10,000. He was part of my network even though we were 1,500 miles apart. Much of who I am today stems directly from building and nurturing that particular relationship.

    You will never convince me that there is not much more quality in my 30,000 connections than yours. It’s not a race among who can get the most. It’s a lifestyle of acceptance of people you don’t know; giving them a chance to become someone important in your life.

    Its all about relationships. If you’re interested in a relationship with Mike or me, I encourage you to reach out. We do and will respond.

  8. Lori,
    I am with you. I have over 59,000 followers on Twitter. People cannot figure out why I want so many people to follow me. The main reason is I connect on some level every day. I have found out who the faithful are, there for personal connections; who are the ones who are there for the financial connection. Financial connection is okay if they don’t exclusively tweet trying to sell to me. I enjoy the personal connections.

    When I had breast cancer, it was amazing to turn on the computer in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and chat with people on the other side of the world in Australia who put me on their prayer lists. I have a number of them on my list also.

    I have lots of acquaintances in ‘real’ life. I belong to a church with over 2,000 members, about 1,000 Lions in our district and throughout the state, and personal friends in my Circles at Church and other ministries that I do. It doesn’t mean that I see or talk with everyone, every day; it just means that I am connecting with others on a continuous basis and that I have a lot of love and gratitude to give.

    You just keep connecting to your hearts content. The only thing that can possible stop you is if your computer crashes. Don’t listen to the naysayers, keep up the good work.

  9. hi Lori,

    Wow! After reading two articles of yours about LinkedIn and it really tempted to join. I hope if I join I can have as many as your followers 🙂 (I’m Just dreaming lol!)

  10. I have reached my 30,000 and linkedin is not allowing me any further connections.
    I have been paying for a premium membership to linkedin all these years. This is the reward for loyalty and income ??

    I suggest all LIONs and TopLinked subscribers downgrade their premium membership in protest of this silly limit. If common sense won’t motivate these people, perhaps a significant reduction in income will.

    • Oh @Paul… on the one hand I understand your consternation. On the other, you have to realize that there are millions of people all over the world who use LinkedIn. The large networks do tax their systems more… I get that.

      I’m also pretty confident they changed the timeout limits so people with larger networks experience problems whenever loading their network is required. LinkedIn says their network is optimized for networks under 10,000 and they offered to help me purge my network by deleting countries… I guess they figure I had a better chance of not knowing someone in a particular country but I’m a little odd, color outside the lines and that’s not likely the case for me personally.

      In reality we have people reach out to us for help who have networks at about 8,500+ where the platform bogs down enough that they can’t search groups or load their contact any longer.

      But look at it from the point of view of the vast majority of people who have more “normal” networks… they want good service too and because of the limitations on the largest groups, they have it. I looked yesterday at who and how many top networkers there are. Mike and I both were at 29,999. I was #42 (down from 21 at 30,012) and my partner Mike was at #69 (Up from 82 at 29,997. That tells us that the top… those at 30,000 are around a hundred or so people – perhaps 200. In an online world of 165,000,000+, that’s not even a drop in the bucket statistically speaking. I’m going to go out on a limb and say any sort of protest you describe is not even going to be noticed.

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