What Value Does A Bigger Network Bring You?

September 8th, 2008 | by Jason Alba |

Assume you get an invitation to connect from someone who has a LOT of first degree connections.  Anything over 500.  How do you know how many they have?  Because in their name, they include something like the image at the right.  A common question I get is… so what?? What is the reason they are putting that in their header?

I’m guessing there are thousands of people who do this.  To find the ones you are connected with, simply search for “LION” in LinkedIn, and you’ll notice many of the people in your first-through-third degrees who say they are LIONS also put the number in their profile.

Before we get into it, let me just say it’s against the LinkedIn User Agreement to put that info there.  And it ticks me off when I do an export to import my connections into JibberJobber, because I have to go through the .csv file they spit out and scrub the fields.  It is a pain.

I *think* the reason people put that number there is so they can show how valuable their network can be to you.  If you have a big network, let’s say with 10,200 connections, and we connect, my second degree network just grew by 10,200.  And I’m sure my third degree network grew by a lot more (assuming many of those connections have more than one connection).

Then, when I do a search with this new, bigger network, I might get better results.  In other words, your value prop to me is, if we connect, I’m bringing you many rich contacts to your network and search results.

I personally don’t subscribe to the value of this argument.  It is against what LinkedIn really wants you to do, which is connect with people you know and trust.  It diminishes your ability to make meaningful connections between people in your network… when I find out you, with a ton of connections, are between me and a person I want an introduction to, I DO NOT go through you.  I have tried this before and usually the response I get (if any!) is “I really don’t know that person.”

However, if I were a recruiter, or in business dev, or doing a lot of searches, it would make a LOT of sense for me to connect with you. Anything I can do to grow my network, so my search results are richer, is a good move.  In that case, relationships don’t matter as much as growing my “database.”

Do I recommend connecting with people who have huge networks (and brag about it)?  I’ll tell you in the next post ;)

  1. 7 Responses to “What Value Does A Bigger Network Bring You?”

  2. By Ari Herzog on Sep 8, 2008 | Reply

    Have you heard recent chatter that the old saying of “six degrees of separation” is now reduced to three? That’s because of the LinkedIn users who you and I agree are abusing the social fabric.

    I can tell you how I know everyone in my network; I’ve heard first-hand that people with thousands of LinkedIn connections are clueless who are in their networks. Maybe they can provide referrals, but where’s the value if Person A can’t tell Person C anything about Person B other than his name begins with B?

  3. By Sean Nelson on Sep 9, 2008 | Reply

    The beauty of it is that each person needs to determine what connection strategy works best for them. If success in your business is helped by being able to find people (such as a recruiter), then being a LION isn’t a bad idea. If you follow Peter Nyguen’s strategy of using your network to help you sell ebooks, etc, then it’s not a bad strategy.

    Where it doesn’t make sense is that you connect because you find value in having a large number (look at all of my connections). If you don’t have a strategy to try and monetize these connections what’s the point?

    My personal strategy is two fold: 1. To creat another level of connectedness to those I know; 2. To facilitate meeting of those I would like to know.

    You have Lion’s and Closed Networkers (I call them Turtles), and then in the middle is what I call Networkers (if I have to come up with an animal, then I guess it’s a Dog–loyal to it’s network, yet able to hunt).

    That’s my two cents!

  4. By Sean Nelson on Sep 9, 2008 | Reply

    I need to remember to spell check.

  5. By Ari Herzog on Sep 10, 2008 | Reply

    Lions, Dogs, and Turtles… I like it!

  6. By Jason Alba on Sep 23, 2008 | Reply

    @Ari, yes, I have heard that it is 3 or 4 degrees of separation now… interesting. Your position is exactly what LinkedIn wants you to do, as you are in a position to really add value to others in your network since you really know them. One of these days I have to write a post about MY OWN quantity…. you’ll like that (it will be on the JibberJobber blog).

    @Sean, great thoughts. I agree with you, the strategy you choose depends on your needs. Thanks for sharing the idea of LIONs, Dogs and Turtles :)

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  2. Sep 10, 2008: Should You Connect With People With Huge Networks? | I'm On LinkedIn - Now What???
  3. Sep 12, 2008: How Do You Find The Right Mega Connectors To Connect With? | I'm On LinkedIn - Now What???

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