If you're trying to make the most of LinkedIn, which is more important:
Quantity of connections, or Quality?
Many folks on LinkedIn emphasize the importance of quality over quantity in a network. When the question of "how many connections should I have" is raised, they caution that going for quantity is a HUGE mistake.
They say you should focus on people in your industry - potential clients, employers, and colleagues. Keep your network to a manageable number, so you can interact with them frequently.
They also say you should know everyone in your network, or at least have interacted with them over social media before you accept the connection request.
Folks may even tell you that once you get higher than a given number of connections, it's time to "purge" your connections, removing anyone who is not currently an engaged or active member of your professional network.
In theory, I agree with all of these reasons for keeping a tightly managed, narrowly focused network, and I have one of those that I value highly - but that's not all I have!
I connect with some folks to learn about an industry.
I love learning about various careers and fields, and I find it stimulating to listen in on the discussions of people with different areas of expertise. For example, Maria Campbell is a chef and I've learned a great deal about the food and service industry from her! If she and I had not connected, I would have missed that opportunity.
I connect with people who are generous networkers.
These are the folks most likely to share and comment on my posts, and they are genuinely nice people. Even if we don't share a great deal of professional interests, they are truly valued members of my network. Dr. Kimberly Scata is an oncology researcher, and she often contributes to interesting discussions on LinkedIn. Whether we are discussing mentoring, women in STEM, or cancer, I really value her generous approach to networking.
And of course I connect with peers.
If anyone tries to discourage you from sharing the posts of your peers because they are competitors, introduce them to me. I'll convince them that the most rewarding relationships I have with people in my network are with other career professionals. Peers can keep us motivated, provide a much-needed sounding board, and provide a wealth of resources. Folks like Ana Clara Blesso and Sharon Hamersley teach me something new every week!
So if I connect with all these different kinds of people, how can I keep track of those I want to stay in close touch with?
If you're a list person, save them in your browser favorites, or use a browser extension that manages websites like OneTab. If you're more of a visual person like me, you might create a Pinterest board (it's best to make it a "secret" board) to organize your connections.
I have a board for "people I met at the career counseling conference," and another for "folks to touch base with often." It may take a second to make sure the profile picture is the graphic chosen by Pinterest to represent the link, but it's how I recognize colleagues I met a year ago. (Tip: if Pinterest can't find the profile photo image when you're looking at the person's profile, click on the photo itself and save that to your Pinterest board.)
When you embrace the "quantity is good too" philosophy, you'll find it fascinating to connect with all kinds of different people. Your posts will generate more discussion and you'll feel gratified by the variety of the posts appearing on your feed.
Then when you want to nurture the most valuable folks in your network, you can use your preferred organizational tool to stay in touch with them.
Quantity without sacrificing quality! I think this is the best strategy for making the most of your LinkedIn connections.
Pretty cool, huh? So, why don't you sign up for my email list so you'll know when I share another networking tip? If you're not already connected with me on LinkedIn and following me on Twitter, you're invited to do that as well. Drop me a quick note or leave a comment below and let me know if you find this post useful!