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June 30, 2015

114: Why It's Time to Prune Your LinkedIn Connections

114: Why It's Time to Prune Your LinkedIn Connections

When Neal first started speaking and blogging about social media, he focused on LinkedIn. But the platform has changed so much since the beginning, and of course the interactions and recommended use of it have evolved too. Today, Neal is talking about editing your LinkedIn connections. Not only is it important to comb through your current connections to edit out people who may not be relevant for you, but it’s also good to have some guidelines for accepting new requests. You want your LinkedIn to be curated so it’s productive, fun, and adds value to your life and business.

Key Highlights

[012:03] My Upcoming Free Ebook On LinkedIn

[02:27] What Should You Do On Random Connection Requests?

[03:02] LinkedIn Lions Defined

[03:54] The LinkedIn Connection Policy

[04:31] Why I Am No Longer A LinkedIn Lion

[05:47] Time To Prune Your LinkedIn Connections!

[06:15] Instances When You Can Accept Connection Requests From Strangers

[07:20] Biggest Power of LinkedIn

[08:34] What To Do If You Are Unsure About A Connection Request

[09:07] Using New LinkedIn Requests to Prune Current LinkedIn Connections

[10:34] Key Distinguishers

[10:53] "Guilty By Association"

[12:17] The People You Should Prune

[14:46] Conclusion

Notable Quotes

  • There's value to be had in meeting with people, and engaging with people that you've never met before in the physical world.
  • But if there's a few people in your target industry, in your target geography, whatever it might be, that you can connect with that can really help gain new visibility, and potentially connectability, for lack of a better word into your target market or target company, very tactical advice.
  • If you want to engage with them, do what I recommend, you know, social selling best practices, engage with their updates, right, follow them engage with their updates, go to the groups that they're a member of, see, if they've, you know, posted anything, get an introduction for a friend, if you really want to connect with them.
  • But the real tangible value is if you were to request an introduction from them, are they going to step up to the plate for you? That's the key thing.
  •  And what this does is, it gives credibility to the fake profiles to the internet, slash social media marketers, and sort of the rotten eggs of LinkedIn that you probably don't want to be associated with, unless you, you know, want to sell to those people. But it gives them credibility, because it looks like you have a lot of mutual connection. 
  • And I'm going to recommend when you prune your LinkedIn connections, these are the people you want to prune. You want to prune those people that stay connected with the fake profiles, because they're giving you a false sense of social proof of all the other fake LinkedIn profiles out there.
  •  If I have 10 or fewer mutual connections, I will go into each one of those 10 profiles, I will look and see if they have added any value to me over the last seven years on LinkedIn, or if they have any potential future value. And if they don't, or even if that potential future value is just very slight or marginal, I will just connect with them. And it makes me feel good knowing that I am well, for lack of better words, getting rid of people that are sort of just connecting with everybody and propagating something that we really shouldn't be propagating on LinkedIn. I

Transcript

Neal Schaffer:

Welcome to maximize your social actionable advice on how your business can maximize your social media presence. Now, the host of maximize your social, social media author, speaker, consultant, founder of maximize social business, the Social Media Center of Excellence, and the social tools Summit, Neal Schaffer. Everybody, this is Neal Schaffer, welcome to another episode of maximize your social, I sort of promised you last week that I was going to be recording this next one from Japan. But as it turns out, I'm not leaving until tomorrow. And I have a lot to say. So this one's coming from my home office. Next week, I'll definitely be in Japan. And we'll see if I can get some interesting interviews in as well while I'm there. So hope you're enjoying your summer vacation. I know if you're working, you might not be having much of a summer vacation. But it is hot in a little bit humid everyday here in Orange County, California, don't know what the weather is like, wherever you are in the world. But it's definitely making me drink a lot of water and controlling my appetite, which is pretty healthy, actually. So I'm looking forward to a happy and healthy summer, and I'm wishing you the best as well, let's get on to the topic of today. haven't talked about LinkedIn a lot recently. And I want to bring up something that's both very personal and yet very practical and applicable to your LinkedIn presence as well. As you know, I started blogging, and writing and speaking exclusively talking about LinkedIn. And as many of you know, I also never wanted to become the LinkedIn guy never wanted to be seen as just having one scope of expertise. The reason being is that my clients need social media for business help. And that's not always LinkedIn being the number one strategic social network for them. So not to say, I don't think I'm one of the foremost experts on LinkedIn. But that's my position in the market. But anyway, as you know, LinkedIn is my first social media love. I'll be coming out with a free ebook on LinkedIn called maximizing LinkedIn for business. I hope that's the name of it. Hold on one second. Yes, indeed, that's the name of it. So be on the lookout for that, that's going to be in conjunction with the launch of my new Social Media Center of Excellence, which I'm truly, truly excited about. So well, what do I want to talk about LinkedIn? Whenever I speak on social media or on LinkedIn, there's a number of questions that I always get asked. One is on, Neil, I get these random connection requests, what should I do? Now I call this and I talked about it, you know, I've written two books on LinkedIn, my first book withmail, networking, understanding, leveraging and maximizing LinkedIn was more of a online, personal and business networking book, that there's value to be had in meeting with people, and engaging with people that you've never met before in the physical world. And I think that is now accepted. It wasn't accepted back in 2009. And the only people that were sort of doing that were what we call in LinkedIn terms, lions or LinkedIn, open networkers, you know, Twitter, Instagram, these networks have become open networks in themselves, because you can connect with anyone and comment and send messages to anyone you like, well, LinkedIn, as as we know, is not that way. And it's still not that way for a reason. I'll get to that later. But at that time, my view was, you never know where a, a virtual connection on LinkedIn through what I call it at the time when neural networking will lead you. And that led me to, you know, create a network that has a lot of connections. And the way I respond to the question now is you don't need to have 30,000 connections like I have, right. So. But before I get to, you know, further clarifying that, I want to point out that in 2011, when I wrote maximizing LinkedIn for sales and social media marketing, I talked about the LinkedIn connection policy, and this is, you know, I understand the business people, everyone has a different perspective on how open they want their LinkedIn connections to be. And at that time, I gave very, very tactical advice that said, you know, you don't need to be an open networker. But if there's a few people in your target industry, in your target geography, whatever it might be, that you can connect with that can really help gain new visibility, and potentially connectability, for lack of a better word into your target market or target company, very tactical advice. So we've come fast forward to 2015. Between when I published that second book, and now, I also wrote a blog post about why I'm no longer a LinkedIn lion. And what's happened is the internet marketers, and the people that say their social media marketers, but the really, internet marketers have invaded LinkedIn as well as any other social network. They have invaded the groups. They're dropping links. They're sending spam messages to you. They're connecting with you and then getting your email address and then sending that to someone and then unconnected with you. There's a lot of stuff going on and they are doing doing this, because by saying that they are a lion, they were being trusted by other lions. Okay, so that's why I stopped publicly saying that I'm a lion, because I think it just encourages the wrong behavior. I think, you know, if you're on LinkedIn, and you see someone with 500, plus connections, and you actually go to their profile and read their summary, where they say, I'm open to connecting, or hey, send me a message before connecting, or whatever it might be, right? I don't think you have to have the lion designation. In order to feel safe and connected with someone you've never met. If you want to engage with them, do what I recommend, you know, social selling best practices, engage with their updates, right, follow them engage with their updates, go to the groups that they're a member of, see, if they've, you know, posted anything, get an introduction for a friend, if you really want to connect with them. So, you know, it's now time and really the subject of this podcast is, it's time to seriously prune our LinkedIn connections. Now, I'm going to tell you how I do it. Now, it might also not be relevant for you, but if you've been accepting invites from people, and now it's like, you know, maybe I shouldn't have accepted so many invites, and I think a lot of us have had that feeling. Or if you're wondering, you know, which of these new invite should you accept or not? I think the advice is going to be equally applicable. So now, okay. And the answer I give when I speak is, hey, if you get an invite from someone you've never met, but they live, where you live, and they have a lot of common connections, or they work at the same company, as you and they have a lot of common connections, or they work at one of your partners and have a lot of connections, or they work in your industry, they used to work at a same company, you know, went to the same university, if there's anything that can connect them to you, number one, irrational way. Number two, if there is a, you know, a decent number of mutual connections, and this is going to be important as I keep talking, if they are in your circles, and you should be connected, you should have some mutual connections, right? If not, it sort of raises questions as to is this person real or, or what have you. And the third one is, is there any ROI from your perspective? Here's the thing. If you connect with someone, then you both become first degree connections, you both have access to message each other directly on LinkedIn, you both can view each other's email addresses. But most importantly, is an I call this the you know, the biggest power of LinkedIn is in the discoverability of hidden connections when you have a need. Now, this is very much a business focus podcast, what I do is for business, but it's equally relevant for job searching, or just for networking, when you do an advanced people search, and you have a need to you find a second degree connection pop up, and the person that's going to connect you is one of these people that you've never met, okay, you need to feel confident that if you reached out to them, and you gave them an introduction request, and you did it in best practices that I've recommended in my books, my blog posts, giving them a reason, right. And if you do that, and if they do not carry the ball forward for you and make the request or they don't even respond, then that connection has absolutely zero value on LinkedIn. True, it gets you a little bit more visibility into increasing your secondary connections and vice versa. So there is a little bit of tangible value in there. But the real tangible value is if you were to request an introduction from them, are they going to step up to the plate for you? That's the key thing, right? That's, that's it. So what this comes down to then is, if you're not sure if you should connect with them, if you don't have a lot of mutual friends, or you just don't see the connection, reply without accepting, and say, hey, just wondering, we don't have a lot of mutual connections, and just wonder why you wanted to connect with me. If they respond in a rational way, great. If they don't, then they're not going to respond to an introduction request either. And you should just forget about them. Right, this is a real easy to use rule of thumb. So this, you know, gets sort of into what I believe are best practices and connecting on LinkedIn, from very strategic and tactical approach. I want to get back to this notion of pruning your LinkedIn connections. And really, we can use when we receive new LinkedIn connection requests as a way to prune our present LinkedIn connections. And let me explain this to you. So I get I don't know, anywhere from between 10 and 30, LinkedIn connection requests a day, I'm sort of out there, I do not have lion on my profile, at least I don't think I do anywhere. But you know, I've written blog posts on being a lion and, you know, for whatever reason, I get a lot of requests. So number one, if I get a request from a non English speaking nation, okay, I used to say you never know where a connection request can lead you. But after doing this for seven years, I can safely say that most of the foreign connections have had if they're in a Western European English speaking nation, it may be one thing or if they're in Australia, or I you know, from my perspective, Australia, New Zealand or Japan, it's one thing but for all the requests I get from certain countries, and I won't name them, they really have zero are you to me, especially if and before I decide to accept a decline, I will hover over and see if they have a personalized message. If they have a personalized message on my consider accepting, but if there's no message which 90% of connection requests I get these days have, I immediately just decline? No brainer, right? Once again, determine your geography for some of you, you know, for instance, if you're listening to this the United States, and you don't do anything internationally, in fact, you don't even do anything nationally, you just stay local, you know, if they're coming from sort of out of state, or what have you, this is another consideration. So, you know, number one, is there any personalized message, that's the key distinguisher, right there, assuming there's not number two, we can start to filter by geography. But before I decline, I went a little bit fast there. Before I decline that request, I want to see if we have any mutual connections, okay. There's something called guilty by association in the legal world, which is, you know, hopefully I don't have to explain this concept to you. But, you know, if your best friend did something bad, and you happen to be together with your best friend and saw them do something bad, and you didn't stop them from doing it, you're sort of guilty by association, because you aided them indirectly in doing something they shouldn't have done. guilty by association on LinkedIn is, when you get these random connection requests, I want you to take a look and see who your mutual connections are, right? When you get a LinkedIn connection request from someone that seems irrelevant, and there's no message and you have no mutual connections, you can almost go ahead and delete it right away, right. But when you have mutual connections, I want you to see who those people are, there are still a lot of surprisingly large number of professionals on LinkedIn, that are still merely accepting anyone and everyone's invite. And what this does is, it gives credibility to the fake profiles to the internet, slash social media marketers, and sort of the rotten eggs of LinkedIn that you probably don't want to be associated with, unless you, you know, want to sell to those people. But it gives them credibility, because it looks like you have a lot of mutual connection. So I want you to see, when you get a random request from a foreign country, someone that doesn't have a photo that doesn't have a profile headline. And yet you have like five mutual connections, who are these people that are connecting with them. And I'm going to recommend when you prune your LinkedIn connections, these are the people you want to prune. You want to prune those people that stay connected with the fake profiles, because they're giving you a false sense of social proof of all the other fake LinkedIn profiles out there. So what you're going to find is you're going to find other lions, if you've ever connected with the lion, starting to disconnect with them. In fact, if I see lion, in a profile headline, I'm almost immediately declining that invitation. But once again, before you decline an invitation, look at those mutual connections. You know, if they're sort of a thought leader in my industry, someone that I know and respect, I might not disconnect from them. But if they're a marginal presence, where we've never been in touch, and I'm not sure how much value they add, or if they'd respond to an introduction request, I will start to disconnect with them and delete their LinkedIn connection from the LinkedIn database. And what this is doing over time is, it's showing me very clear to either I have a lot of mutual connections, in which case I feel a little bit safer. Or I have zero, or one or two, or three or four, for my general rule, if there's someone when I look at their profile, and it's really questionable as to whether I should connect with them, and I'm going to decline. If I have 10 or fewer mutual connections, I will go into each one of those 10 profiles, I will look and see if they have added any value to me over the last seven years on LinkedIn, or if they have any potential future value. And if they don't, or even if that potential future value is just very slight or marginal, I will just connect with them. And it makes me feel good knowing that I am well, for lack of better words, getting rid of people that are sort of just connecting with everybody and propagating something that we really shouldn't be propagating on LinkedIn. I'm hoping this makes sense. And if you do this day in day out, what's going to happen is even if you only get five LinkedIn connection requests a day, probably you're going to end up pruning your connections in a very, very smart and tactical way, and be able to use that number of mutual connections as true social proof, just like you would on Facebook, when you see number of mutual friends and you you give 100% Trust of that, we need to be able to do that on LinkedIn as well. And the only way to do that is to follow my advice here. It can turn off your connections, you know, when you're in the contact screen, it just allows you to more easily engage with the present connections that you have, and give more value to them. Right. So that's really my message for today. If there's no personalized invite, they're not in your geography you don't see what the potential ROI is. Look at those mutual connections before declining and prune your LinkedIn connections. Let's not be guilty by association. I'm probably guilty by social myself because of my Open Networking background with a lot of connections, and I am working hard on reducing those connections, but it's sort of similar to someone who contacted me other day. And I use a variety of Twitter tools, some automated, some semi automated, some manual, but I was following sort of questionable profiles on Twitter by accident. And one of my LinkedIn connections actually reached out to me and said, Neal, have you seen who you follow recently, if someone's managing your account, you need to, you need to tell them, and he was right. And I thanked him. I was guilty by association, because I was following the wrong people. You don't want to be connecting with the wrong people on LinkedIn. So if you've never been an open networker, or you've never sort of, you know, gone above and beyond the people that you've never met, you're not going to have this problem. But hopefully, even that advice on if I don't know someone, should I connect with them or not, that, you know, don't accept, send them a reply and seeing if they engage back with you. That's really the determinator. And I hope that you'll do that as a best practice. But for others, don't waste your time. If there's absolutely no common thread, and no mutual connections, decline, and be done with it, and don't waste any more time on it. If you've had a little bit more open connections, then this will be more relevant to you, if you've been ally in this, I think will be the most relevant to you. So that's my advice on your LinkedIn connection policy. Who should you accept invites from and why and how you should carefully prune your LinkedIn network. And let's put more trust into that mutual connections number as we go forward. I hope you enjoyed this advice. Hey, you want me to podcast more about LinkedIn? You want me to podcast more about whatever topic, feel free, reach out to me. Appreciate all those iTunes five star ratings and comments. I know when I moved my podcast over, I lost a lot of them. So if you're one of them, I hope you'll reengage and help spread the word about the podcast. And I'm signing out to you today from Orange County, California. Excited to be going to Japan soon. And like I said, hopefully next time we'll be talking to you from Japan, where I will be rooting on our new disco Japan, woman's World Cup soccer team in Japan. I'm really excited about that sort of a bummer. I'm enough to watch us, Germany and Japan as well. But that's okay. I'll get together with my other American friends for that matter. So anyway, wherever you are in the world, as I always say, make it a great social Day. Bye Bye, everybody. Thanks for listening to maximize your social. We appreciate all of your iTunes subscriptions, ratings and comments. If you would like to appear on this show or recommend content, please contact Neal Schaffer at Neil at maximize your social.com Please also make sure to check out Neil's new community, the Social Media Center of Excellence at social media ce o e.com. As well as Neil's first social media event, this social tool Summit, which will be in Boston on May 12. And in the Bay Area this fall. Thanks again and make it a social day.