I noticed today that at 951 the number of my direct connections on the professional networking platform LinkedIn is seriously nudging 1,000 and the total network, including second and third level connnections, has more or less overnight topped 15 million.

A bit of a milestone that 15 million, so I thought I should not let the moment pass unremarked.

Des Walsh's LinkedIn network at August 8, 2011But does that number make me a better person?

Or more successful in business?


At the most basic level all it does is illustrate how a relatively small number of direct connections on Linked can translate into a very large network.

And as anyone knows who has heard or read my comments on LinkedIn over the years, I am definitely on the conservative side when it comes to making direct connections on the LinkedIn professional networking platform.

Some of my “super connector” colleagues would think 1,000 direct connections a very modest number indeed!

But the approach I’ve followed suits my social media strategy.

My general principle is to follow the official line of LinkedIn, to only connect with people I know: (see LinkedIn’s “Accepting or Declining Invitations” page and the advice “We strongly recommend that you only accept invitations to connect from people you know”). In recent times I have stretched my concept of “knowing” somewhat, but I still need to have some contact, whether face to face, or via phone, Skype or – it those options prove too challenging, via email. Some who invite me to connect clearly find that approach uninteresting or unacceptable and I never hear from them again.

Which is ok.

There is a lot more to leveraging LinkedIn for business or career effectiveness than acquiring a large number of connections.

What that “more” will be depends very much on the business or career objectives of the particular user. For me the “more” is about such objectives as:

  • raising my profile and being readily “findable”, for specific industry sectors, as well as geographically and regionally, as a social media strategist, LinkedIn specialist and business coach
  • attracting more clients
  • supporting my existing clients by helping them with their own business or career development, e.g. by making introductions through my LinkedIn network

That in turn requires that I both analyze my existing network, including its geographical, industry sector and “influence” aspects and identify areas where I need to put more effort into building my connections.

Getting some numbers, even very big numbers like, say, 15 million, is just the start.

Others will have different strategic objectives.

If you care to share some of your strategic objectives with LinkedIn (and your LinkedIn profile link by all means), that would be very welcome.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).