Should I connect with people I don’t really know? Is there a target number of connections to have? How do I know when I have enough to help me get a job?

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4 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You shouldn’t connect with someone you don’t know because they can’t do anything for you, so it just dilutes the power of your network. You want a network full of people who know you well enough that they would recommend you to a friend. You get jobs from your weak ties (extended network) rather than your immediate network.

    Typically, your immediate network is so close to you that they don’t know new job openings that you haven’t heard of. (This is true, by the way, for dating, too.)

    You are better off having 30 great contacts that 1000 weak ones. Your network on LinkedIn should be the group of people who are well connected themselves and really like you and want to help you succeed. LinkedIn’s own research shows that you only need 30 of these people.

    Don’t work so hard on having a huge network, work harder on keeping those 30 people up to date on your life so they care about you.

    Penelope

  2. Deborah Hymes
    Deborah Hymes says:

    I respectfully disagree with Penelope’s advice. The question of how many connections to have is a false conundrum, because there’s no need to make a choice here.

    Think of your LinkedIn connections as the digital version of your physical contact book. An effective network has many different kinds of connections in it. Visualize it as concentric rings:

    1) You should have a solid core of great contacts whom you know personally and have reciprocal relationships with. You can ask them for anything and vice versa.

    2) Then there are the people whom you’ve met in various ways and at various functions. You know people in common and each of you will give the other an initial 5 minutes based on a mutual connection.

    3) Then there are the folks whom you’re very loosely connected to. You’re in each others’ orbit and you run into them from time to time. Your connection is most likely a shared interest. You can ask them for certain types of things and vice versa.

    Based on personal experience, this constitutes a strong network. And it is, in fact, one of the opportunities — and pleasures! — of a digital network. Why simply replicate digitally what you already have offline? Online, you can meet and connect with people all over the world. You can join groups that exchange ideas around shared interests, with hundreds of people whom you’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise.

    And just as in the physical world, karma counts. I’m always happy to make an introduction, refer a resource or offer assistance, if it makes sense in the context of the relationships involved. And I’ve had enormous success in that respect in return. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to connect with highly visible, accomplished people such as Penelope. ;)

    BTW, I don’t own stock in LinkedIn or anything. It’s just proven its value to me over and over again. And LinkedIn itself misses the boat when it advises users to “Only connect with people you know well.” What’s the point of that?

  3. Tee Hee
    Tee Hee says:

    I have to laugh that someone is asking Penelope about LinkedIn when she founded “Brazen Careerist.” However, LinkedIn has value because you can also research people you’re going to meet or hope to meet. It’s as much a tool for search as it is for social interaction.

  4. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    I also have to disagree with Penelope. LinkedIn requires 50 connections with people to have a complete profile. If you decide not to have all the required connections, it will publicly tell other users that your profile is not complete.

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