Qualify Your Professional Network

There was a recent discussion on LinkedIn regarding tight versus broad networks (LinkedIn Strategies – Tight vs Broad Network). Is it more effective in a  job search to build a network of close connections or instead, build a network with a broad reach, but weak connections?

This is an interesting discussion. Recently I have been trying to qualify my network. I have been building my network for a little over a year now. At first, I thought it should be a numbers game. How many people can I connect with? I immediately saw diminishing returns.

To put things in perspective, I currently have:

  • 277 contacts on LinkedIn.
  • 180 following/156 followers on Twitter.
  • 20 people actively following my blog daily and commenting
  • 150 non-family contacts in my contact database

Of all the above contacts I consider maybe 10 contacts can help me find a new position or are people that remain in touch with me. What does this mean? Have I failed in networking? Should I have a tighter network or a better network? These are questions I ask myself everyday.

Here is what I do know.

  • Maintaining a network takes time and effort on your part.
  • If you are seeing no responses from your network then you should not put the effort in networking with that person. I know this seems harsh. But lets face facts, if you email and call someone and they do not respond then it is clear they are not interested in maintaining a link with you.
  • Move on and find others that will return your emails and telephone calls. Even if they do not have a position, they are just checking in with you to maintain a link.
  • Maintain a network that brings value to you.

I have started to be more discriminating in whom I add to LinkedIn and follow on Twitter. I want to have contacts that I can help and that can help me both in the short and long-term. It is not a numbers game anymore for me. It is about quality relationships with people.

What do you think about maintaining a network? What are your thoughts on how to maintain a network?

5 thoughts on “Qualify Your Professional Network

  1. It is not a numbers game anymore for me

    Indeed. This is analogous to a common marketing challenge: do they pass on more leads to Sales or do they pass on *better* leads to Sales?

    I am definitely in favor of the latter 🙂

  2. Maybe it’s from my being in the service for so long and constantly moving that I can count my true friends on one hand. Quality of ones friends or contacts are by far the single biggest asset one has. They of course have contacts of the same quality and it’s this dynamic that one can use to each others benefit.

  3. Quality over quantity any day. I admit that I find it hard to sometimes “expel” a member of my network, but it is the right thing to do. I have been slowly organizing my network contacts into groups, based (loosely) on how often I need to follow up with them and how often they follow up with me. Some people get a note from me every month, others every quarter, some every 6 months, and a few just once a year. Others go into the “wait and see if you hear anything from them again” bucket!

  4. When it comes to Facebook, a personal networking site, a more intimiate network is better. However, I’m nearing the 800 mark on LinkedIn and I like that it gives me the option of being able to reach a wide audience with a referral. It’s true, sometimes people are too busy to answer a personal e-mail or phone call but you’d be surprised how many people are willing to forward on notes because it’s a relatively mindless task. Perhaps I’m biased since I was recruited for my current job via LinkedIn.

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