If you’re using LinkedIn to increase your job prospects and advance your career, which approach can help you more: maintaining a large, impersonal network? Or keeping a short list of names and faces you know well? Is it better to stay in close touch with high quality contacts, or cast a wide net populated with second and third degree acquaintances?
A Short List of Close Connections Is More Valuable…
Ideally, your social media contacts should be extensive, varied, and close. The most valuable network is both wide and deep—a long list of close friends, respected mentors, and professional contacts. But if you have to choose, it’s a better idea to keep your list short and make sure every name belongs to a person you know fairly well. LinkedIn is advertised as a social media site that can help us reach out to those with whom we’re connected in order to ask for professional favors, but strong relationships aren’t based on favor begging, and most of us (wisely) don’t lean heavily on social media networks for this purpose alone.
In both the real world and the digital one, it’s rarely effective to spam or cold call strangers in order to ask for help or make demands. Those who are poised to help us are those with whom we’ve spent some face time, those who we’ve helped in the past, or those with whom we share a close mutual friend. Don’t be drawn to false assumptions– or presumptions of intimacy– with strangers simply because their names appear on a long but meaningless contact list. And think twice before you send a network request to a distant connection or total stranger.
…But Don’t Close Yourself off to New Relationships
But at the same time, it never hurts to accept contact requests from vetted connections. If you receive a LinkedIn invitation from a stranger who shares a second or third degree contact with you, don’t immediately dismiss the request. The person reaching out to you may represent a new world of opportunity and connection, and there’s no need to reflexively close yourself off to the unknown. Be cautious about clicking on links embedded in “requests” from complete strangers, since these can harm your computer. But if a connection seems legitimate, feel free to click accept and allow your network to grow.
If you’re looking for ways to expand your professional networks, both online and off, reach out to the Texas staffing pros at PSU for personal tips and guidance. A well-maintained contact list and a smart social media strategy can help you take your career to the next level.