Influence, Not Numbers, A Network Makes

The other day I was co-working near someone I had seen before but never met, and who was browsing their LinkedIn profile with the tenacity of an archaeologist.

[I try to be careful with my linking and networking, working hard not to take up time with it I should be doing other things. For example, the fact that I can send invitations via LinkedIn Mobile really speeds things up for me!]

He leaned over after a few minutes and said to me:

Him: Are you on LinkedIn?

Me: Yes. Great tool, huh?

Him: Yes, I love it… its a great way to get to know more people.

We introduced each other and talked cordially for a moment, then he went in for the kill:

Him: So… do you mind if I link to you?

Me: No, not at all…

Him: Awesome. I will send you an invitation…
(pause while he typed in my information)
…see, it’s my goal to become one of those people who has 500+ connections on there. THOSE ARE THE POWER NETWORKERS…

Me: (silence, and a little dumbfounded that I’ve just been suckered into his network)

Him: (sensing my dumbfoundedness) Yo-you don’t agree?…

Me: I just think you can do more with a small network of people who TRUST and KNOW you than you ever could with a huge network of people who really have no idea who you are.

Him: (…. thinking now….) … what do you mean?

Me: I mean, I have worked very hard to build my network of trusted associates carefully. My LinkedIn network, for example, is completely made up of people I have had some kind of meaningful connection or communication with. I know I can ask those people for real help or real assistance and they will reply to me because they actually know me.

Him: (…. still thinking….) … well, sure… I can see your point…. but I still think it would be cool to just, you know, be “connected to everybody”. I guess we just have different reasons for networking.

Me: Well, I guess we do.

We went on about our business and, a few minutes later, as I was leaving to go to a meeting, he caught up with me:

Him: Hey, man! You have 447 connections! Woah! There’s no way you actually know all those people!

Me: Well, I didn’t say I started networking yesterday… and… I actually know you, don’t I?

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3 thoughts on “Influence, Not Numbers, A Network Makes

  1. Robert, I like you new site, new look, new direction. Further, I strongly agree with your thoughts about networking. I’ve also developed a Twitter follow policy (http://tinyurl.com/5jzbdu) because I’ve run into so many people who seem to be about how many people they can follow. I already think I’m following too many as it’s taking too much time.

    LinkedIn is another service in the same category. I’ve ignored a number of requests from people three or four degrees away whom I’ve never met and have no idea whether they are people I want to be networked with.

    Even in the digital world, we are known by the company we keep!

    Thanks!
    Roland Smith
    http://techmatters.rnsmith.com/

  2. @roland good point. I like that thought, “Even in the digital world, we are known by the company we keep!”

    @matthew that would have been excellent. Man. Where were you when I needed you! I am never smarter than my network!

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