Hey, here’s an idea: scan the phone book into a text file and then import all those numbers into your iPhone. Boast to friends about how many people you have in your address book.
Hey, no one said it was a good idea!
I understand why some people believe the fundamentals of this scenario somehow change when “phone book” becomes “social media” and “phone number” becomes “contact information.” For about 20 minutes, I was one of them. Until I saw the utility of the site plummet as the number of my LinkedIn connections grew beyond a manageable level.
Enter the “Remove connections” function.
I’m currently experimenting with groups to keep people in those “outer orbits” of my world close without mixing them into my real-life network. I also use Twitter for this extensively. The reason I want them separate is simple: LinkedIn is most powerful when your online connections represent real relationships. I don’t need a phone book’s worth of data in my profile. I want to see names of people I know, people I can call, people will know my name when they see it in their email inbox or on their caller ID. Making people a first or second degree connection in name only isn’t helpful if I can’t bank on a response when I call them.
As I discovered, there’s a big difference between knowing how to reach someone and having earned the right to do so.
Before you get swept up yourself by the siren’s call of large numbers, learn from my early experience and be judicious when connecting online. One day, when you need your network, you’ll be thankful you did.
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.