Exposing LinkedIn Connection Myths – Part V

Connecting to thousands of people puts your updates in front of more people!

This is a nice feel-good reason to connect indiscriminately, but empty when you get into it. I actually have to agree with the plain statement of fact that if everyone connected to thousands of people they didn’t know, updates would be placed in front of thousands more people.

And be completely ignored.

Let’s have a look at how this would happen, shall we?

LinkedIn updates

LinkedIn lets members know about happenings within their network of 1st degree connections. By default, you can expect to see a LinkedIn update when your direct connections:

  • Update their profiles
  • Add connections
  • Add recommendations
  • Update their status
  • Relay twitter messages

And by the way – you can expect that they’ll get an update when you do these things as well.  If you’d like to change that, look for the “Profile and Status Updates” setting.  You can also choose who has visibility to your updates with the “Member Feed Visibility” and “Twitter Settings” settings. (sorry, their labels not mine;-)


If you feel that some of those update messages clutter up your home page, you can disable them with specific settings under the label of “Network Updates”.

I personally review updates through an RSS feed.  If you know what that is, look for “Your Private RSS Feeds” setting.  If you’d like to find out what it is, read this article I wrote a few years back – “Would you Like that Web Site Delivered?

So now you understand that updates are sent out based on the senders privacy selection, and viewed based on the viewers selection.

Raw numbers

So yes, if Bob connects to 4000 people (he doesn’t really know), and creates an unbelievably prophetic update, he will get that in front of 3600 more people than Sally who connects to 400 people she knows and trusts.

That is a huge percentage increase, so kudo’s to Bob for getting the message out.

The other shoe

But let’s have a closer look.

Bob connects to 4000 people who also connect to 4000 people (that they don’t know) – because that’s what the proponents say – everyone should connect indiscriminately.

I have close to the 400 connections of Sally that I used as an example above, and I received about 100 updates a day, some days even more.  In the world of twitter that’s 1 update from each user every 4 days – so we have to take that as a reasonable lower bound.  Some of these folks send out 3-4 messages a day!

So if someone connects to 4000 people, they will receive 1000 updates a day – or more!

Think they’ll ever look?

And just what happens when someone is overloaded with messages from people they don’t know (or care about)?

That’s right – they either turn them off, or they ignore them completely.

So even if the indiscriminate connector’s message is delivered to thousands of additional people, it is a wasted effort.

Compared to people that care

Now – consider the effect of an update from someone you know and trust – “John Smith has added a position – Software Engineer for Acme Computing“.  That’s something you’ll be interested in because you know John was looking for work and it’s great to see your colleague find a position.

You might even send over a note to congratulate John.

Adding up the numbers…

Ok – perhaps there’s a silver lining and getting your update possibly seen by thousands of people that don’t know you really does have a payoff.  I just don’t get it.

If you want to do the twitter thing – that’s cool – I’ve joined. (See my “Follow me” tweety bird off to the right – I follow back)  The twitter platform was built around very light connections and the intent for thousands (and tens of thousands) of followers, and works well.

The LinkedIn platform – wasn’t – so don’t waste your time trying to make it something that it isn’t.

But please – let me know if I’m missing something here!

To your continued success,


Steven Tylock


  1. Hello Steve! I am back with some of my comments from the recruiter perspective. As I have mentioned before I tend to link with a lot of people (600+ connections now). Most of the time I know the people at least a little, generally as candidates for previous positions that I have worked. There are a few that I do not know that are ‘huge’ networkers. And a good number are people that I try to keep up with.

    Without going into a lot of detail, I will say that I have had good experience with the quick updates, specifically around job openings. I have received responses from people that I knew well, and some that I barely remembered. Have I made money from this? I do not know offhand, but I do know that it has worked to get me viable candidates for positions, and that is good enough for me. I will keep doing it. (And I can tell you that I have absolutely made placements from people I found searching Linkedin, but that is another topic.)

    So having a good number of connections is good for me (again not necessarily for everyone) and I think everyone should hook up with a few recruiters they like for the reason above.

    Eric, The Software Scout

  2. Eric,

    Glad to hear from you – and I still recognize the “recruiter point of view”.

    What you’re saying is that it’s good for you to have people connect to you because you can broadcast a message for them to see.

    Now they are not likely to see that message if they connect to thousands of people themselves…-)


  3. Eric’s point is really an apples and oranges. It reinforces Steve’s point of not having contacts you don’t know.

    But….Eric has “clients” as many of his contacts. Therefore however light the relationship is, it IS a relationship.

    So actually I’d call this an agreement. I do see some of our ABCPNG group with huge contact lists and I’d be interested in knowing if any of them found it useful and why.

  4. Jim,

    Well yes – I didn’t take Eric as suggesting that people who connect indiscriminately actually get a benefit from their updates. He was saying that he benefits from his updates being seen and he happens to have a larger network.

    If the people he connected to had huge networks, the value of his updates goes way down.

    So perhaps the message some would really be offering is “connect to me!” But that’s not what they’re actually saying…


  5. In general I do not disagree with Steve very much. I just like to get into minor points and variations, and drive the discussion a little deeper.

    I suppose I could be saying “If you are going to do something different from what Steve recommends, have a good reason.”


  6. I’d still love to have someone on Toplinked or similar “lets connect to the known universe” tell me the value added they get from the connections.

    Steve’s comment on indiscriminate connections crystallizes the problem with Toplinked; When you get that many updates from the 3600 or so people you don’t know…you’ll just turn the whole update part off.

    How does that help you? I’d love to hear it, please chime in.
    (I’m not even saying it does or doesn’t, I would just love to have a person with 4000 connections from that type of group tell me the value.

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