Monday, 4 October 2010

Stop Chasing Numbers!

In the social media space, it’s inevitable there’s an obsession with chasing numbers. ‘Help me get to 10,000 followers’ people tweet (no thanks). Then there’s the Twitter accounts that generate unwelcome noise via too many tweets. And then I tune-out (or click ‘unfollow’).

Of course, success is about quality not quantity. I’d rather have one valuable stand-out tweet a week from a brand or person I follow rather than a stream of mediocrity. And whilst I’d agree you need a critical mass of followers to make the platform work, you don’t need to compete with Stephen Fry for numbers of fans.

The same applies to LinkedIn. In last week’s Financial Times (20 Questions, FT October 1st), the platform’s co-founder Reid Hoffmann recommended that a well-networked professional ‘should have between 1,000 and 3,000 connections’ on LinkedIn. I don’t think s/he with the biggest network wins; again, it’s the quality of your connections or followers that counts.

In the past week I’ve received two or three LinkedIn requests from people I’ve never heard of, let alone had a business relationship with. I declined their invitations - I’d rather have 250 genuine connections, building a network based on quality, not quantity.

Whilst a ton of connections might give you something to brag about, it’s not going to be the basis for doing great business.


Lewis Howes said...


I agree to some extent, and it all depends on your personal or company goals here in my mind.

However, if you only connect with those you already know, then you are limiting your opportunities or the ability to pick up new customers or sales. (again it all depends on your goals).

If you open your network to connect with those you may not know, and they go through your profile, your blog, videos, etc... then they may want to hire you or buy your products, etc.

You never know the opportunities that will come if you connect with new people. Just my thoughts :)

Ian Sanders said...

Lewis, thanks for the contribution, you make some good points. Sure, I can see that LinkedIn has a lot of value in connecting you with people you don't know, and I have connections in this way. However, what I found odd about those invitations from people I didn't know or had never met was that they just went for the default script saying they'd like to connect with me. If they'd personalised the invite to say "Ian, we've not met but I know one of your connections and I'd love to connect with you", you know what? I reckon I would've clicked on 'accept'. But they hadn't bothered. Which reminds me ... in March I met a guy at SXSW who'd previously connected with me on LinkedIn via a mutual friend. When we were introduced in person, I said "of course we're already connected on LinkedIn". He looked blank. He couldn't recall inviting me and he had no recollection. And to me, that went against the grain of what LinkedIn's about. For me anyway :)
Hey, one question I'd like to ask you Lewis: what's your view on the 'optimum' numbers of connections, do you agree with Reid Hoffmann that you need 2-3k?

Lewis Howes said...

I see your point, and that's why I recommend everyone send a personal invite to connect with others on LinkedIn if you know the person or not.

However, there are a number of people who are newer to LinkedIn or that don't understand the power of a personal invitation (or just don't "get it") and therefore they may be some of those people if you don't accept their invite...

This doesn't mean they will be a bad connection for you, but just that they may not be aware of how to approach connecting with people. Also, when people add their "mass email invite" it doens't allow them to send a personal invite... so these members could be in your email list but still can't send you a personal invite unless it's one by one.

Other than that, I don't think there is a stardard for how many connections you should have, I personally think you should connect with everyone (in most cases) that could potentially be a client/customer, or someone you want to do business with in the future... however you never know who anyone is connected with and how they could benefit you and your business as well...

sorry for the ramble :)