How Do People Manage Huge LinkedIn Networks?

adviceLinkedIn tries to curb the natural human competitive instinct by capping the number of contacts displayed at 500, so people who like to achieve high numbers had to create their own sites. Many people wonder how it’s possible to manage large networks, so here I will address that briefly.

The organizing principle that drives activity in LinkedIn or other networks is, “What’s the point, what am I trying to accomplish?” Without some kind of intention, large numbers of contacts are essentially data and nothing more. They could be evolved to higher value relationships, but that takes work, and no one has the kind of time to deal with such a huge network.

How a person optimizes a network between loose ties and tight ties should be a function of his/her intention. “What am I trying to make happen, and what is the culture of the group(s) of people that could help me?” My experience shows that you have to think of the expectations and needs of the network you build.

One of the best metaphors for LinkedIn networks is inviting people to a party. What kind of interaction are you trying to encourage?.. and what are the expectations of the people you want at your party? How will it serve you, and how can you align serving the people in your network with serving yourself? If the people in your network are “mature” business executives, they will probably tend to have smaller, tight tie networks. On the other hand, a Web2.0 software person may be more comfortable with looser ties. Both can serve, and everyone must find the happy medium between the two.

At the end of the day, I believe that it’s my job to serve the people in my network so that they want to help me. The intent helps you to prioritize with the network you have, so you can optimize between the two poles.

In my experience, many people on LinkedIn have not joined with a defined intent; they are exploring, or they agreed to join offline friends who invited them. That’s typical for early adopters. Most of the people I know tend to have tight tie networks, but I am in the process of interviewing LIONs to understand some LION strategies. Knowing as much as possible about both poles and how people succeed with each will be interesting.

Please refer people you know with large networks who like to talk about them!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.