What do LinkedIn connections mean to you?

This is a thought exercise that I have been mulling over recently that I write here to share with you to get your thoughts.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about LinkedIn connections. What exactly does a connection on LinkedIn mean to you, or me? It’s not Facebook where they are generally family members or friends that you go for a beer with or catch-up with on occasion. LinkedIn is a virtual Rolodex of the connections that you have made during your working career. People you have worked for and with, people you met at networking events and fund-raisers, people you met via an introduction from another connection.

Some people collect connections as if it were a game. First in an attempt to get more than 500 and then, well, just because. Maybe they think that the more connections they have and the bigger their virtual network is, the more chance they’ll have to sell or promote something to that network, or to find their next job?

So is it a numbers game? And is every connection just a number?

For me the value of a connection is in whether the connection is 2-way. For most of my connections we are connected on LinkedIn but I don’t have their phone number or email address and vice versa. The only way we can communicate is through LinkedIn. So at least once a year I reach out to each and every connection to find out how they are doing and if maybe I can help with anything. For some connections I receive no reply. That’s ok. Maybe they are busy right now. It’s not urgent. I’ll try again later, maybe in a week. However if after three attempts, with at least a week between each attempt, I receive no response then I know that particular connection either does not use LinkedIn messaging or is ignoring my messages. As I have no other way of contacting them what is the true value of that connection? It might look impressive to someone else looking at my connections that I appear to know a particular person, but if they ask for an introduction to that person then I know that I am unable to do so because beyond the initial connection I have had no further contact with that person.

So in the above scenario that connection is worthless to me. It is someone that I met at some point in time who connected to me but for whatever reason has severed the connection leaving only a virtual placeholder behind that has little to no value as a connection.

It may sound mercenary but LinkedIn is not a social network like Facebook. It is a virtual network of potential clients, employees, customers and introducers. And if a particular connection is no longer responding to you then maybe removing that connection is the best thing you can do if you wish top maintain a quality network.

Do you keep in touch with all your LinkedIn connections? Do you remove any that no longer respond? What are your thoughts on the above?

I hope you found this article useful. If you have any feedback or suggestions for improvements feel free to drop me an email. If you would like to support my writing please buy me a coffee.


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Last updated: 7th November 2022

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