Winter of Disconnect by Ed

@ San Francisco, California
Lifting my son Noah up to the basketball hoop so he can take a shot
Lifting my son Noah up to the basketball hoop so he can take a shot

Over the last few years I have exclusively used LinkedIn as my source of recruitment, networking and for a CV. While it is a very powerful and useful tool, I have found myself seduced by the dark side of networking and the desire to connect to as many people as possible.

This practice has slowly crept up on me and my connection count now sits at a rather bloated 1740+ people.

This is a silly number of people to pretend I know and it is way beyond what most consider to be the maximum number of manageable human relationships possible.

Let’s be honest, it feels good to connect and grow your network. LinkedIn has a certain gamification quality to it and the site makes you feel that the bigger your number, the better a person you are.

Many individuals on the site even boast about their connection statistics and use it as leverage for you to connect to them.

When I first joined the site, it made sense for me to try to build a large network. The site practically encourages you to grow as quick as possible. It asks if you know this person and that person. It even allows you to upload your entire address book.

For a while this plan worked well for me as I added anyone who asked, anyone with even the slightest connection. My number grew and grew, it felt good. I was a LinkedIn success.

Now my network is fat, diluted and practically unusable. Its clear now, I can completely see the absolute benefit of quality over quantity.

LinkedIn’s strength, the ease and speed at which you can connect with someone is also it’s big weakness. It’s way too easy and quick to qualify a new connection.

I look at my LinkedIn page today and I see many people that I may have met or spoken to only once, exchanged a brief email, or worse, those I cannot simply even remember. This makes me sad.

For any network to be useful, for MY network to be useful, it needs to only contain people I am comfortable dealing with, connections who I have had a meaningful experience with in the past and with the potential to have a meaningful experience in the future. These people need to be useful and mean something.

Starting today, I am going to reclaim my network by disconnecting a large chunk of contacts. All of those casual connections will be gone very soon.

This cleansing will take some time as I will need to go through each one on it’s own merit and decide if it should stay, or should it go.

If we disconnect, it’s nothing personal, a lean, smart network is good not just for me, but for you as well. You never know, maybe one day we can reconnect as a genuine connection.