Why I Eliminated 61% of My LinkedIn Friends

My LinkedIn connections...Recognizing I had 2,474 LinkedIn connections three months ago, I posited a question on this blog:

Should my network be tight enough that they can recommend me without asking who I am and what I do? If we’re only connected because of a shared interest or geography, is that enough of a reason to sever the weak link?

Phil Gerbyshak appreciated my thoughts and wrote his own blog post in response evaluating 5 reasons to sever that link, including his belief that if you’ve never interacted with someone since that initial LinkedIn connection request (or if you don’t remember when your last interaction occurred), remove the person.

On the nature of LinkedIn invitations, Ed Alexander sums it nicely:

Do you want to be seen as trustworthy, honest and accurate in your communications?

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If you don’t use LinkedIn to discriminate between strangers and trusted relationships then, by all means, link away. Just don’t expect me to reciprocate until after we have established a mutual, credible dialogue.

You need to grasp that LinkedIn is an ecosystem. If you connect with me and we never (or rarely) interact, then why are we connected? That’s like having my phone number in your rolodex but you never call. Why am I there?

Arik Hanson suggests that weak links damage your LinkedIn reputation. Recommendations and endorsements are fallacies unless they are from people who have direct experience in working with you.

This is the elephant in the room no one really wants to talk about, it seems. How many recommendations are based on the assumption: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours?

I’m tired of assumptions. I’m tired of connecting to people because we once met at an event and we think we have something in common. Yeah, our commonality is we’re connected and then nothing happens.

The number of my connections decreased 61% from 2,474 in May 2013 to 961 today. I removed everyone who I don’t remember meeting, communicating, or otherwise knowing anything about beyond what’s in their profile.

Dan Schawbel believes you should accept LinkedIn requests from everyone.

I used to believe that — three years ago! That’s when I thought the only way social media could connect us is if we connected to each other. How wrong I was. Connecting to each other without evaluating the other person — and keeping in touch with the other person on a frequent basis — sets both of us up for failure.

If you want to connect with strangers or those you don’t know well, use the follow feature on Facebook or the list feature on Twitter. Forget about LinkedIn for those weak or nonexistent links.

These are my thoughts.

What are yours?

Comments: 4

  • Stuart Beattie says:

    I guess it depends on what you use LinkedIn for. Is there any real harm in being connected “weak links” – they may help you connect with others that you need to connect to in the future – you just don’t know. I have pro-actively started conversations with my “weak links” that have actually lead to strengthening them significantly.

  • Dear Stranger,

    I am one of those weird people who doesn’t use LinkedIn to make new connections but to stay in touch with people I have worked with or talked with in real life. If you are in that group I forgot, I am sorry.

    I would be glad to communicate with you. If there was some particular reason you were connecting, email me at …

    replace Stanger with the persons name and you have what you will get from me if I don’t know who you are and you invite me to linked in. Facebook is for family and high school friends. Facebook pages are for fans, Twitter is for anyone to follow me and anyone interesting for me to follow. Pinterest is for pretty. Linked in is for business.

  • Spook SEO says:

    Interesting. Though I hear you and I kind of agree with what you’re saying, I wouldn’t risk severing any links at LinkedIn.

    I would however be very concious about adding or accepting someone’s connection request but as far as severing links, I find it a risky move.

    I say risky because with all my years in business, there are improtant people, that I’m sure I had a meaningful connection with before but haven’t had the time to connect with them. I might have forgotten about them because of the lack of connection but that doesn’t mean that the experience that we shared before has no value at all. Forgetting can happento the best of us so why sever any links and risk it?

  • Michelle says:

    I’m seriously considering doing the same. I have 600+ LinkedIn friends and more than half of them are only online acquaintances. Although I do like the social proof that having many friends gives.

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