Less is More on LinkedIn

A few months ago I de-linked about 75% of my contacts and I’m not looking back. It’s awesome to say that if you look on my LinkedIn, I know everyone well enough to make a real introduction. Not just some dude I met at a trade show one time, or a person I worked with when I was 21 and just out of college.

As some background: I am a huge supporter of social media, but I am no longer on Facebook, except for my one friend which needs me to be her friend so the “real world” can verify that in fact she is married to me. I have moved on to Twitter. For places, I now am using Yelp after switching from Foursquare. But LinkedIn is still the standard for business.

As a tech startup CEO, I have been forced to mature at ludicrous speed. In 2008, I was fighting for anybody to talk to me and take me seriously. It’s amazing how many people stopped talking to me when the cool business name was removed after my name in conversations. Almost 5 years later I scrubbed through my sea of LinkedIn contacts and here’s why:

  1. LinkedIn SPAM tools: Today, anyone that pays LinkedIn a monthly fee can spam my contacts to death.
  2. Bozo’s: I have always kept accepting bozo’s to an absolute minimum. But there were definitely some B players in my contacts. The issue there is that B players tend to link to C players. Thus, C players can get to me, or B players can get to my A contacts.
  3. Time: Just like college friends drop off, in business people change jobs, careers, industries. That awesome buyer I was selling radios to in 2009 is now buying Candy at Target. He’s still a cool guy, but I don’t need to have him formally connected anymore.
  4. Quality vs. Quantity: Here is a pic of my hits in LinkedIn searches… (going up) I believe it’s because my brand is increasing based on the quality of people I’m connected to
  5. (Startup CEO specific reason) – I have a lot of contacts in industry. I’m not looking for a job. I don’t need to link into everyone that I used to work with to see what they are doing in their companies. My former co-workers are no longer valuable LinkedIn connections for my business development. Sure there are people that may work at companies that I want to do business with. But 95% of the time, they are at the same company AND/OR in a position that I’d be better off going through another executive connection I have to get my foot in the door. [For most startup CEOs I know, they are like me. Used to be a mid level manager or tech guy. Probably hated their boss’s boss’s boss. Looked for jobs before/while starting a company and needed their mid-level co-workers on LinkedIn.]

In summary, keep it tight. Keep LinkedIn an active list, not just a growing one. My rules of thumb:

  1. If you haven’t talked to someone in over a year OR they aren’t the CEO of some company that’s going to impress someone, delete them from your list. You can always add them back.
  2. No family, ever.
  3. Have a draft email ready to go for anyone that you know that you don’t want to add on LinkedIn. Mine is straight and to the point and offering a personal introduction to anyone if they ask me through email or over the phone. (e.g. If my bike buddy wants an intro to someone, they can still see I know them on LinkedIn and I can make the intro the right way; directly)

Comment and let me know if you agree/disagree. Hit me up on Twitter if you want some tips on how to sort through contacts quickly. LinkedIn [purposely] is difficult to filter and remove people.