Is it the size of your network or what you do with it?
I am what you might call a promiscuous networker. In fact, I never say no to anyone (in LinkedIn that is.) Folks like me are known in LinkedIn as LIONS (LinkedIn Open Networkers). And to be completely transparent, LinkedIn doesn’t like us much. Nonetheless, since I am in the field of social media strategy and marketing – working with both corporations and individuals – I find I need a giant network as a service to my clients. The larger the network, the bigger the portal into the LinkedIn world, and the more likely you are to find the diamond amongst the gravel. A large network is very useful for people in Sales and Recruiting where it is a numbers game. It’s awfully hard to connect to someone who is not a first or second connection. Never mind those not in your network at all.
Those “C” level folks will want to remain “LaMBs”(“Look at My Buds” – coined my Laurie Macomber Of Blue Skies Marketing.) LaMBs know everyone in their network, and if you are lucky enough to connect to one, you will find their network much more useful than a LION network. LIONs love LaMBs. I can contact Laurie and I know she knows everyone in her network and could, should she choose to, give me a very warm written, perhaps even verbal recommendation.
For those wanting top grow a LION network, let me throw out a few caveats. Firstly, LinkedIn only allows you 3000 invitations, so don’t go inviting everyone in your 4000 person database. (You can accept as many invitations as you want). When you do invite someone, make sure you let them know how they know you and why you want to connect. Be aware of the IDK. (I Don’t Know). Get even one IDK now and LinkedIn will limit the functionality of your profile. When inviting someone to connect with you, ask them to archive your invitation if they do not want to accept it. Most people are not aware the penalties LinkedIn enforces as a result of an IDK.
For most people, the ideal network lies between the LION and the LaMB. If you want to strategically grow your network beyond people you know, but don’t want to be completely promiscuous, I suggest going to TopLinked.com’s top 50 list and inviting all of those folks. They will say yes, open your network to about 10 million, while keeping your first connections close at hand. And of course, invite me to Link In with you!