Exposing LinkedIn Connection Myths – Part VI

Connecting to thousands of people builds your thought leadership!

Another really nice sounding statement to take on today – doesn’t everyone want to be a thought leader?!?

And if some expert says that you’ll be considered more of a thought leader with thousands of connections (to people you don’t know), it’s got to be true, right?

So let’s start this investigation from the beginning of the thought leadership process…

Thought leaders

Everyone probably has a personal definition of Thought Leader, and it probably goes around someone who has done some thinking, and takes a position in front of the pack – leading it.  Pretty close to what you have in mind, right?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the term Thought Leader.

The parts that I think mean the most:

  • Having a deep understanding of some topic
  • Bringing new thoughts or direction to others
  • Getting a sense of recognition from others

And that’d be very nice to achieve – if only having lots of indiscriminate LinkedIn connections helped…

Deep understanding

This one is clearly not an aspect of thought leadership that will be enhanced with LinkedIn connections.  Having 40, 400, or 4,000 doesn’t really change how well an individual understands something, does it?

We’ll just set this aside and move on.


Now – insofar as bringing new directions to a market, having LinkedIn connections will also not be of much help.  Can you imagine the conversation: “Fred, I had a great new idea today – because I’ve got these 4,000 LinkedIn connections, I realized that companies don’t need to earn money anymore, they just have to ‘look’ like they will earn money…”

But here’s room for wiggle – if I had a leadership position, and people actually looked at the LinkedIn updates that I published, then the extra connections would mean 4,000 strangers had an extra glimpse of my material.  But wait – we debunked that myth in the 5th article in this series – because the people I connect to also have 4,000 connections, they are oh-so-very-likely to miss my update in the 1000 updates they get each day.

Hmmm, better keep moving…


Well finally – a clear win.

If 4,000 people that I don’t know connect to me on LinkedIn, that must mean that I have achieved a position of thought leadership.

I mean – it’s not like they’re connecting to people at random, or think that any account that would ask them to connect is a worthy person to follow.

But really – getting to 4,000 has got to indicate something, doesn’t it?

How many leaders?

And to wrap this up, I’m going to consider the fatal flaw of the theory…

If everyone did it, we would have millions of thought leaders on the system, wouldn’t we?

I mean if the mere fact that someone has a whole lot of connections to people they don’t know helps them build and then indicates that they have achieved a position of thought leadership, wouldn’t everyone do that?

Putting the hours in

I’d like to think that an individual that had a mastery of a topic, and led some of the thinking process around that subject could use LinkedIn effectively.  But not by connecting indiscriminately.  They’d connect to people they know and trust – their peers, colleagues, business associates and others, and then they’d be able to use those connections to get introduced to friends of friends.

But hey – I know that’s crazy talk around some parts of LinkedIn.

And please – I remain ever hopeful that someone will be able to enlighten me about how this indiscriminate connecting thing really works!

To your continued success,


Steven Tylock