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Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 10 months ago

From ConnectionBrowsing


Should you open or close your connections?


See ConnectionBrowsing for an introduction to why people do and don't enable this feature and why it's overrated.


There are a multitude of opinions about connection browsing. People like it, hate it, think it's fun, think it's intrusive, consider it mandatory for any real networker, consider you untrustworthy if you expose their relationship like that, and so on.


I teach online networking and LinkedIn seminars with a simple focus. LinkedIn is for Business. So let's ask the business question. Does it add value to networking? Is it worth the time and effort compared to other means? That is the prism that I use in my discussion.


As a starting point, browsing is a positive form of networking and the PayItForward philosophy. So in general I recommend it.


It ties back to quality vs. quantity


The value of browsing depends on the quality of a relationship. A stronger relationship leads to a higher probability that

  • Your request will be forwarded by your direct contact
  • Your connection's forwarding comment will have a personal and strong recommendation
  • The recipient will accept your request.


Unfortunately LinkedIn doesn't allow any such quality indicators. There is no way for you to know whether any given person is:

  • My best friend
  • A casual contact
  • Someone I don't know who is a WeakConnection.


So we have to use the number of connections as a proxy.


Open for a few hundred connections or less


I had my connections open for 2 years. I recommend in my LinkedIn classes that anyone who has up to a few hundred connections should keep them open. At that level it's good networking for visitors who browse your connections.

  • Connections are manageable to browse.
  • You can assume they are relatively strong contacts.
  • You will likely get a custom, personal, and/or strong introduction.


Close for more connections


There are exceptions to the rule. Supernetworkers are one of them. And I am one of the top ones in the world with over 25,000 connections.


I'd love to keep my connections open. There is much to be said for the serendipity (and voyeurism) of browsing. But, again, LinkedIn is about Business, not fun. I have to "eat my own dogfood" and follow the same principles of good and effective business networking that I promote in my consulting, seminars, and workshops.


I closed off connection browsing when I had several thousand connections and in fact should have done so sooner. Why? Because it leads to Bad Networking.


1. USE IT OR LOSE IT. You simply can't reasonably navigate a list of tens of thousands of contacts. LinkedIn intentionally makes this list unusable. LinkedIn displays connections in a three column format with 90 connections per page. For supernetworkers there literally are hundreds of pages of connections. The display cannot be searched or filtered. It can only be manually browsed, which is a waste of a visitor's time.


2. DILUTION IS DELUSION. If a person has thousands of connections, most of them are weak. The connections have not met in person. You are unlikely to get a personal or strong introduction. There is little value in knowing any random connection. It leads to a false assumption about the quality of that connection and reduces the likelihood of having your request accepted. You are better served running a search or browsing a user with limited connections, compared to scanning a supernetworker's connections.


3. WHY ME? If you yourself are connected to a supernetworker like me, it is likely you and I have a WeakConnection. I am happy to forward your requests. But if we have a WeakConnection, I am highly unlikely to provide the best introduction for you, especially when I receive dozens of such Introductions a day. Your first option should always be to send requests through your strongest, not weakest (!), connection.


MarcFreedman, Your LinkDaddy

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