There is such a thing as having too many friends. That is, when “friends” is only a vague signifier for someone you have the technical ability to message on social media. If you’re really looking to put the “network” in social network, you should be choosy about who you request and accept as a friend.
At the Harvard Business Review, Alexandra Samuel, a technology researcher who writes about social media, argues that you should be more selective about who you connect with on professional platforms like LinkedIn. Having access to a true stranger’s profile, she says, won’t really help your career.
I’ve long been an advocate for what I call the favor test: only connecting to people you know well enough to ask a favor of or do a favor for. That’s because the greatest value LinkedIn offers is its ability to help you get introduced to the people who can make a difference to your work. But you can only get those introductions if the second-degree connections in your search results are people who are connected to someone you know well enough to ask for an introduction. (And if the person you’re asking for the intro also actually knows the person you want to meet.) When you connect to everybody and their dog, your second-degree search results will include people who don’t actually know anyone you know, so you won’t be any further ahead in reaching them than you would be by simply cold calling.
If you want to use LinkedIn to cold-pitch yourself as a job candidate or just look super popular to all those people who are stalking your LinkedIn profile, sure, connect to everyone! Send out that mass email that invites everyone you’ve ever met to connect to you. But if you’d like to make it truly professionally useful, maybe be a bit more discerning.
[h/t Harvard Business Review]