LinkedIn connections… is it about quality or quantity?

Recently I did a webinar for BC HRMA called “Linking Metrics to Strategy”.  Essentially the course was in response to the question “which metrics should I track?.”  While HR could report on hundreds of metrics, there’s really no point in doing so.  Instead, you’re better off choosing a few metrics that are all focussed on your strategy.   I kick started the webinar by talking about how we were taught to write an essay in highschool, where you presented one idea and then spent the rest of the essay talking about it:

Beginning paragraph – intro to your topic, present your theory, describe what you’re about to talk about
Middle paragraphs – prove your hypothesis is right or totally wrong
Last paragraph – summarize what you just said

My teachers always talked about the length of the essay and gave some sort of word count requirement.  Everyone always stresses over these word counts and inevitably the same question always came up:  would you be docked if you wrote more?  less?  The answer was always along the lines “quality is more important than quantity”. 

I always wrote alot more than I needed to.  Why?  I don’t know… perhaps I felt my work was inadequate, perhaps I thought that I wouldn’t look “smart” if it wasn’t lengthy analysis, perhaps I was just bad at editing with a critical eye.  The good news was that I never had marks deducted for making the paper longer than required.  The bad news was I was deducted for being redundant or wordy.

So, grasshopper, it is the way with HR metrics.  Tell your story, stay focused on proving/disproving the theory, summarize.  No epic novels to fill a void.  Quality over quantity, all the way.

So now, let’s switch it up –  same theme, different topic.  LinkedIn connections:  what’s more important, quality or quantity?

When I first started on Facebook, I was accepting Friend-vites from anyone that asked.  Over time I started to get uncomfortable; I had “friends” who I barely knew and who now had complete access into my personal life.  And so began the process of ignoring friendship requests and even unfriending some.  Ahhh… social media… I hate the way you make me look so mean sometimes!

So when I started on LinkedIn, I focussed on professional contacts only and stuck to connecting with people I knew.  Besides, given that LinkedIn is about building a professional profile, I figured who you’re connected to was important (and have been advised to keep my connections open for anyone to view).

But others are using LinkedIn in a different way, connecting to anyone willing to connect, to maximize networking opportunities.   If I was a recruiter, I could see making the most of this connectivity.   But if you’re trying to build an online brand and tell the world who you are and what you do, is there a benefit to connecting to everyone and anyone that asks?

P.S. Yes, my last post was an April Fool's joke.

One Response

  1. Two sides to this argument – one is that networking should be somewhat non-judgmental – if you dismiss someone b/c they don’t have a title or seem to be important, you could be missing out on a great connection, so you should take every opportunity to network. Weak links are often the most beneficial (think referrals). However, if you focus on quantity, you may be focusing on the wrong thing.

    I would say the best approach is to be open, but actively manage your contacts. If you get to the stage where you have hundreds or thousands (I know people who do), then some kind of system to manage/maintain/categorize. You’ve got to DO something with all those connections. If you are a recruiter, then it would be kind of obvoius why. I have to admit I kind of like it when people label themselves LION (Linked In Open Networker). Sort of online self-disclosure.

    Did you know most people who are over 35 are more likely to want to know someone in person before they connect online, while younger people are likely to go the opposite.


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