This question was posted by hawks5999 in the show comments, but I haven't seen a response. So, I'm posting it here in the forum.

I wonder what Mark, Mike or anyone else thinks about LinkedIn or other Internet networking sites. Would you apply the same three rules? In the context of LinkedIn, I am most concerned about rule 1: Build Volume Indiscriminately. What do you think?

ChrisG*son's picture

In my opinion, no. [i]Networks are about developing personal relationships,[/i] and I find that remote networking leaves me cold. I delete any request to join LinkedIn unless 1) I know the person, and 2) we've already discussed it. When I received an invitation to join LinkedIn from a business contact, but we'd never talked about it, it felt like spam.

I have friends in entertainment who use MySpace and love it. But for them, it's more like a free website where they can include clips of music, photos, artwork, and can link to other artists they admire & usually [i]know personally[/i] to help one another grow their fan base. But this isn't Entertainer Tools...

I'll be interested to hear what others have to say about your question. I'd like to add a question that's almost at the other end of the 'build your network' spectrum: informational interviews. Mark discourages contacting someone just to ask for something, but suggests one begin by offering something. How does this work in the context of informational interviews?

Thank you, Mark and Mike, and all those who post here.

mauzenne's picture
Admin Role Badge

I'm a member of LinkedIn, but if you looked me up you'd see my "network" is about [b]ZERO[/b] ... about the same as the value I place in them. These sites are about "Networking", not "Building a Network" (the distinction of which we discuss on the podcast).

I don't know about others' experiences, but although I've received a lot of requests to "Link In", these are the same folks that *never* write, email, or phone me. They don't communicate with me on anything near a regular basis, yet they want a "link"? Then, I get a call from a link to a link to a link and am supposed to be favorably inclined to do them a favor? Dude, that ain't "GIVE, GIVE, GIVE"; that's just "TAKE, TAKE, TAKE". And, in the end, that's why I place very little value in them.

Use the stuff in the podcast and start building a REAL network.

Not very opinionated, ;-)


One other point ... When I get a request to join someones LinkedIn network, my immediate reaction is that the requestor is lazy ... they don't want to go to the effort of building *their* personal network, so they want to leverage mine [b]at no cost[/b]. A big turn-off, to be sure.

MattJBeckwith's picture
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I totally agree. There have been a lot of "social network" sites pop up in the last few years and your 'cast reminds us that "personal" is what makes the network valuable.

This was a great episode! It has reminded me to keep in touch with my contacts. After listening to the show I started going through my contact lists and realized that I hadn't called several in a year!

esanthony's picture

If I listened correctly to the podcast, the "indiscriminate" nature of who to put in your network is for the purpose of building a broad base of talents, personalities, locations, etc into your network.

Also, very rarely do you get out as much as you put in to something. These social networks seem like shortcuts, and from a marketing standpoint can be useful to some enterprises. But they, like so many shortcuts in life and in business, do not perform over the long run. You could build a truly large network but it wont be strong enough to support you when you need it. Strength comes from nuturing those relationships in your network and in giving more than you take.

Brent's picture

Social networking sites are all about getting you together with other people like yourself. To quote Tom Peters in [i]The Brand You 50[/i]:

[quote]You are as broad/wise as your collection of freaks!

You're as rich-diverse-freaky-cool-"with it" as the cool/freaky/with-it dudes/dudettes you hang with.[/quote]

PierG's picture

I'm in LinkedIn and I tend to link just people I know OR people that I trust for any reason.

This is NOT my network, this is a part of my network that I trust: if someone needs to link with one of these guys, I'm sure it's a good connection. I can 'garantee' in some way.

I can't say the same for ALL the people in my network.


RayShan's picture

I'm definitely not suprised that people on this forum aren't too hot about LinkedIn, considering the maturity of audiance and the professional life that everyone maintains. I'm sure that no one here checks MySpace 50 times a day :D I'm not a member yet for the same reasons; I much rather to have face time or at least talk on the phone to maintain relationships. However I'm afraid that this is the way of future. Who would think that emails could be a major tool of networking 20 years ago? Just a thought.

DavidB's picture

I am actually a big fan of LinkedIn and Plaxo. I specifically use it to maintain my network, not to grow my network. It helps me to maintain contact with people that have moved to different positions or any other change (promotion, position, location, etc) by sending me a notice, which I then use as an excuse to call the person.

That being said, I do not have my complete network in their, but around 50 people that represent some of my more recent contacts.

I think the biggest problem with these tools is the expectations of how to use them are not realistic.


TimK's picture

I also like LinkedIn, also not as my network. LinkedIn is just a tool to enhance more fundamental networking. My network I maintain via face-to-face, phone, email, and paper mail. I only accept LinkedIn invitations from (or offer them to) people I have personal contact with. The advantage of LinkedIn is that I can use the computer to search for people I'd like to meet or to reconnect with. Then I can ask a specific favor of my contact to connect me with that person, rather than the blind, "Do you know anyone who ..."


mauzenne's picture
Admin Role Badge

Good points ... I hadn't thought of LinkedIn as a "network management tool". I see the value there and see how that could be very useful, particularly in understanding the connections between people (it would be cool if they showed that in graph form, by the way).

There are a couple of other features (contact management-like features) that would move it closer to an effective tool for me ... maybe they'll call me for my expert advice ;-)

kddonath's picture

After listening to the building your network podcast I realized that my network is pretty small, but the potential network is huge (people I talk with, in my contacts list, I used to work with, etc.). So I started setting up a regular contact list - created a list in Outlook called @Network and started putting in recurring tasks with persons name, phone or email.

It's been fun! People really respond positively to being contacted! Had one person skeptical at first, 'why are you calling? What do you want?' 'Nothing, just wanted to see how you're doing, was thinking about you the other day.' She loosened up and we had a great conversation. I'm also finding out cool stuff about people I haven't spoken with in years.

The point about adding people that I talk with regularly (ie: Mark adding Mike to his list) I think is really important. Seems strang, but people move away, reassigned, etc.

Not sure what this is going to be like with hundreds of people! Hope I don't get overwhelmed.


bl1ndsqrrl's picture

Agree with DavidB and TimK I like LinkedIn and Plaxo, they are just that "tools" they are not the network itself. Of course I'm in I.T. so I'm biased. ;)

phil801's picture

I'm a big fan of both LinkedIn and Plaxo but like others here, I use LinkedIn very discriminately. I only accept or invite those whom I know very well and the reason I add people is to extend an offer to them to be able to 'tap' my network. I love making connections for people, but only people I know and trust. LinkedIn allows them to view those in my network and request a connection from me if there is someone I know who they could serve or could be of service. Furthermore, I use LinkedIn to explore the networks of those I am linked to when I am looking for a new hire or service provider. I then request an introduction through the people I am linked to. The beauty of this is that if a LinkedIn network is maintained correctly (everyone being discriminate in who they link to), it is a great way to share contacts and make new connections for people: ala Love is the Killer App.

Plaxo is an excellent tool for reciprocal reasons, if I change my phone number (this happened not too long ago) I can change it once in Plaxo and every person that has me as a contact and is using Plaxo immediately has my new number - whether I know them well or not. Conversely, whenever one of the people I'm connected to in Plaxo changes their phone number, it gets changed for me in Outlook, which synchs to my Treo. There have been several occasions when I have called someone at their new phone number without realizing that their phone number had changed, because I don't have to update it. The same goes for their mailing and email addresses.

My absolute favorite tool for building and maintaining my network is CARMA (Corporate Alliance Relationship Management Application) which is hosted at It is an amazing tool that goes way beyond ctl+shift+K by using 'lifelines' to make sure you keep in contact with people. It also lets you put a relationship level on each person in your network with the goal of growing each connection to the highest level. When I hired a new assistant, this is the tool I put her on to build and maintain my network.

PedroPalhoto's picture


I was wondering, what about maintenance priorities?

If we assign 30 minutes every business day for maintaining our network and two hours during the weekend, we'll have four hours and a half every week. Ok, lets just round it up to five.

Lets consider every interaction to last 10 minutes (I'm probably cutting it a bit too short), that will allow for having 30 interactions per week. 52 weeks, 1520 interactions. By doing quarterly maintenance results in 390 relationships.

If you can't place enough maintenance time into your schedule or take more than 10 minutes mean time per interaction, 200 relationships seem a reasonable value. If you do have more available time or are a turbo caller (not advised, IMHO), you can maintain 600 relationships on a quarterly basis.

If you have more people in your network than what you can maintain quarterly, how do you prioritize? Or should we even think about the issue? This collides with the "Build Indiscriminately" rule, because whether we want to or not, there is a limit on how many relationships we can maintain with reasonable quality.

Thank you :).

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


I've never done the math, that's for sure. But at times I have had as many as 3,000 people to "stay in touch with" and I did fine. I communicated with some somewhat less frequently. I did have priorities, but it was stricly gut feel. It had to with friendship, business opportunities, sahred interests...

Luckily, because no one else did it at all, my less frequent interactions were way more than anyone else was doing.

Hope that helps!


PedroPalhoto's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]I did have priorities, but it was stricly gut feel. It had to with friendship, business opportunities, sahred interests...[/quote]
Yeah, that's quite what I was suspecting and have behaved so far in a similar fashion. Just to figure out if there was an "MT process" behind it ;).

Luckily, because no one else did it at all, my less frequent interactions were way more than anyone else was doing.[/quote]
With the rising popularity of Manager Tools, this may soon become [i]peanutbuttered[/i] 8).

[quote="mahorstman"]Hope that helps![/quote]
It sure does! Thanks Mark :).

garthk's picture

One of my favourite MT-isms is Mike's repeated observation that you'll catapult to the Nth percentile (typically 90-95) if you adopt any of the effective behaviours that Mark identifies as exceptionally rare. Ringing people periodically, being nice to recruiters... it ain't that hard, is it?

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

NONE of this stuff is "complex", which is one way people use the word "hard". The other way it becomes "hard" is when one tells oneself one is going to do it and then discovers that it is "not easy". Of course, once you get it - usually over the Horstman Curve - one looks back, and despite the struggle, says, "that wasn't hard."



dsfsystems's picture

I have to agree with David here ...

I think the biggest problem with these tools is the expectations of how to use them are not realistic.

Using a site like myspace doesn't leave you with any expectations ... it's a 'social' site. Same goes for facebook, which was funded by the same guy that funded LinkedIn. (thank you wsj) I don't mind meeting hundreds of people on myspace - if they turn out to be helpful from a business perspective, that's great. (two randoms off myspace have)

However, when I meet someone on LinkedIn or a 'business' networking site I feel like I'm over exposing my network and sometimes even hurting it.

For example, lets say I have a friend that is a great guy, but I would never hire him or recommend him for a job. You all know someone like this I'm sure. If he adds me on linked in and I deny him, then he will become irritated about that and it will harm our relationship.

Another example, I am very young, but I know a handful of higher ups at some of the larger software companies. If I were to mention to some of my engineering friends that I personally know them I feel like I'd be endlessly bugged to make the introduction. If I don't that harms the relationship once again.

I already do what Mark recommends and make sure to contact everyone at least every few months. In addition to that, I also make sure to write down little tidbits of information in my address book. For example, a friend of mine's dad is pretty high up at motorola and one of her friends is a manager at google in phoenix. Definitely have both of those noted in the little notes section of my address book.

Well it's 2 a.m. so I hope this had made sense.

Unfrozen Caveman's picture

Hi all - I recently picked up a copy of "Work the Pond" subtitled Use the power of positive networking to leap forward in work and life. It is written by Darcy Rezac and from what I've read so far it seems very good.

I was wondering if anyone here has read it and if so what your opinions are?

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Haven't, sorry.


vtanasi's picture

I am a fun of Linkedin and Plaxo. I do believe the wrong approach would be to use them as the MAIN WAY to build networks. Relationships will grow with humans interacting, not machines. Also, such tools might help with the GIVE. GIVE, GIVE recomendation, allowing some individuals trying to reconnect with "lost connections"

Shawn's picture

I registered a while back, but didn't really do anything with it. Then a few days ago I read this blog post by Guy Kawasaki [url][/url], and decided to put a little more time into it.

I agree that if used only as a lifeline, or as a sole source of networking, it's pretty much worthless. However, I think it may be a useful tool as a sort of "metadata tag" for a person's identity within the larger business community, as well as a way to use the page ranking system to promote the information you want people to know about you. I just finished reading "The Search", by John Battelle, which is mostly about Google but also contains a rather fascinating discussion of the larger implications of search. His book, along with an article I read recently in the Journal, have left me with the notion that it is probably best to be proactive about creating one's identity within the "Index".

James Butler's picture

reading the posts in this forum, I've noticed that alot of emphasis has been placed in the linkedin. the "build network indescriminately" philosophy is great. I use "linkedin" but only to keep in contact with people that have like minded interests to me and can act as sounding boards for current issues or items that need padding out to come to fruition. Most of my linkedin acquaintances are personal friends and being a Project Manager I like to sound off problems with my trusted network. this also provides me with insider information of future job openings etc.. etc.. If I can assist anyone in their role, from my experiences - the door's always open!

I'm a systems man by nature, being an ex techie (is there such a thing?). On a day to day nature, I utilise Outlook contacts. in the memo field, every time i interact with an individual I write a line entry as such

"100307 email sent congratulating on new position see ref1."

-- ref 1 --

that way, if i hear about a promotion / personal issue etc I can look back at my relationship with that person and use the prompts in outlook (via the followup flag) to get back to them at a future date.

Also if I'm going to ring someone I can look back at my notes from that contact and frame my conversation accordingly... ie kids names/ages , dogs, future holidays etc.. etc..

currently I've got about 400 contacts and am actively managing all of them.

I also utilise SKYPE & MSN to interact, when we're online, but don't spam them for the sake of it!. There are numerous methods to interract.. all have their place.

.... interested to hear from others as to their methods of keeping upto date with their network.

kaspar's picture

Don't you all like the idea of getting all those old friends and colleagues back in touch. Who of you knows
1. how do you get those nice logo’s into your profile
2. how do we get a logo ourselves.


juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

I find that a lot of mine are covered in the regular course of business, too. If I'm on the phone with someone in my network for business reasons, I simply cover my personal conversation at the same time. It makes maintenance easier AND it lets folks know I'm not just calling because I need something or owe them something. Of course, if they pop on my calendar, I call or email just to check up. It works out well - I no longer find myself going 'man, I haven't talked to Mr. X in six months, wonder what he's up to? I'll call next week...'

corinag's picture

I tend to use LinkedIn for two main reasons:
- You're name "googles" better, and they have a nifty link to your profile that you can add to mails and blogs to let people see your professional path, education and sometimes hobbies in an instant. It's easy to manage, and update regularly, and it's alway available to you no matter where you are.
- While it's not my network, it's an important tool in keeping it. I tend to communicate with people face to face, via phone, or e-mail, but some broad announcements, like I changed my job, are easily and well handled by LinkedIn. I thus escape the stigma of mass e-mailing, but still keep people who are not necessarily on my priority list right now appraised of how I'm doing. It also worked for reconnecting with college friends and former co-workers with whom I neglected to keep in contact in the past 10 years. It would have been very difficult to trace them otherwise, as they are scattered around the world.

Once we reconnected, and had current e-mail addresses, it was easy to swap news, and photos, and stories, and arrange to meet when next in the same location.

I don't think you can beat LinkedIn for that.

kaspar's picture

What is your experience with all the Groups you can join on LinkedIn? What do you get out of it, what does an active group look like, how do you like it ?


HMac's picture

I set up an "alumni" group for fellow former employees of a company I used to work at. My goal was to help peole stay in touch, and to build an intact network for others as they left the company. The group now has almost 400 members worldwide, and it's been a gratifying experience to build something that could help others.

A side benefit is that as the manager of the group, I have access to all members' email addresses, even if they're not in my personal LinkedIn network.

Starting and managing a group on LinkedIn is very easy - the FAQs and instructions are quite straightforward.


kaspar's picture

And then what...

What does a group do ? How do you exchange info ?
What do I miss ...


HMac's picture

It's just a microcosm of LinkedIn. No special powers. People join, and by joining they can choose to "link" and make their contact information available to one another so they can stay in touch.

bug_girl's picture

This response may or may not be helpful in your decision to participate in LinkedIn, since I mainly use these tools for benign stalking :)

I use LinkedIn mostly to mine for information:

*I have a group of contacts that are mostly former students/employees, and this lets me keep track of where they are now, and what's going on for them. It's great to see where past directs or students have gotten to, and keep in touch.

*I use it to mine contacts (of my contacts) for names at large companies (Pfizer, etc) when I need a contact, and am getting stuck at HR or the main office. Groups are great for this, because all you really need is someone's name and company--so even if you [i]aren't[/i] a primary contact, you can still see most of what you need.
The main switchboard phone number will get you the rest of the way.
With an email of one person at a company, you usually can guess the company format, and also send emails ([email protected] is pretty common)

*In the past I occasionally answered questions at LinkedIn, since it was a way to be helpful but also get my name/employer noticed. Right now I've been too busy and don't do that at all, but perhaps in time things will slow enough to restart that.

I try to mostly use Facebook for personal contacts, not business. The facebook format really leads to overly sharing. I do NOT need to know who you hooked up with last Friday. :shock:

HMac's picture

Great post bug girl.

You've nailed what I would have said about using LinkedIn. I can only add that LinkedIn itself is now listing employment opportunities.

Oh wait, one more thing :) - Some job search aggregators like Simply Hired are now linking to LinkedIn. This is very cool: so when you're interested in a listed job, you can click on a link that will show you who in your LinkedIn network is connected to that employer, either now or in the past.