I don’t like to brag, BUT I think it’s worth reporting that I have passed a pretty significant milestone in my life. As of last week, I now have 500+ friends on Linked-In. I have so many friends now that Linked-In has stopped counting, and I’m anxiously awaiting my 500+ Club card in the mail. I have to admit, however, that I am having just a twinge of networker’s remorse now that I’ve passed this impressive milestone. I’m actually starting to wonder if I liked it better when I was hovering around the 470’s. 470 friends is a good, respectable number - you’ve got some networking fire-power, but without the fanfare and stigma of being a 500+ guy. In fact, the more I think about it, I think there might be a credibility bell-curve associated with the number of friends one has in Linked-In, and I’m wondering if I’m now on the “overly-hyper-networker”, downward sloping leg of that curve. Just think about the class of individuals who tend to be in the 500+ club... they try to link to me all the time, and I ignore them. Recruiters, sales people, pyramid marketers, shucksters, hustlers, snake-oil salesmen, politicians and other unsavory characters. And now, sadly, I am one of them.
But hey - it’s not my fault. I mean - who made this arbitrary decision that 500 should be the scarlet letter of networking? I can imagine the meeting at Linked-In...
“So, today we will be discussing the friend metrics feature on Linked In. Sally, how many friends do you have?”
“Well, um, I don’t know. Maybe 50 or 60?”
“Bob, how about you?”
“Uh, well, I have a lot of college buddies, and some friends on my block. I don’t know - maybe 130-150?”
“Ok. Well, we need to cut this off somewhere. Anyone have any ideas?”
“How about 500. Anyone that has over 500 friends is a shallow phony. How could you possibly keep in touch with that many people? It’s like those people who send you Christmas cards of their kids, and you don’t even know them.”
“Ok, then, it’s settled. We’ll cap the count at 500 people, and anyone who goes over will be exposed for the liar and cheat that they are. They should be ashamed of themselves, claiming to have that many friends. I mean, seriously, some people in this world only have 2 or 3 friends, and would kill for double digits. In fact, we won’t tell anyone, but let’s put in a hidden upper limit of 999. If anyone dares hit 999 friends, we’ll secretly link them to a known terrorist for their 1000th friend. We’ll join them to the Friends of Al-Qaeda network, and then sit back and watch the CIA do their thing. That will teach them to take advantage of social networking.”
Yes, I am definitely going to start jettisoning friends. I have got to get back under 500. The question is, how? How do you un-link someone? What message is that sending? “Hey man, thanks for Linking-In to me and all, but I’ve changed my mind. You just aren’t valuable to me anymore. You are a networking dead-end, my man. Roadkill on the side of my reputation highway. Sorry.” No, I don’t think so. I’m not that cold-blooded.
No, I need a system. A fair and equitable system. We’re just purging the data here, not making any judgement calls. Alphabetical? No, I don’t want to punish the A’s or the Z’s. Birth-date? No - age discrimination. Date of Linking In to me? LIFO or FIFO? I’ve got it! I’ll take volunteers, just like the airlines do when they are overbooked. “We are over-networked on this account, and are taking volunteers to Un-Link from Todd’s network. We are offering vouchers for a real-life, e-mail introduction to any of Todd’s Linked-In contacts for anyone willing to volunteer to de-link.”
If this works, I can make it back into the credibility zone of 470 or so in a few days, I would guess. But hey - why stop there? What if I can get this thing leaned-down to, say 99. I’ll brand it “The 99”, and it will be this exclusive, secretive society of my most valuable contacts. I’ll create a 99 retreat to an undisclosed location each year, and we will have a secret hand-shake and chant. Twitter will be buzzing about it. “Are you in The 99? Who is in The 99? Do you know anyone in The 99? ” Yes. This can work. 99, here I come. For you 401+ who don’t make the cut, I apologize in advance. I’ve summited the peak of 500+ - I’ve seen what’s there, and I didn’t like what I saw. I’m a hardened, savvy networker now, and I’ve learned that quality is better than quantity, and now I’m on my way back down the mountain. Catch ya’ on the flip-side (or, I’m always available on Facebook).