I’ve become one of them.

I just joined the “500+ Club” on LinkedIn, meaning I am connected to more than 500 individuals. (For the record, as of 3 p.m. today, I’m at 502.)

Why have I resisted this milestone? Because in all my communications, I strive for quality, not quantity, and I’ve long associated “500+” with indiscriminate name-list building for its own (ineffective) sake.

I turn down many more LinkedIn requests than I accept, largely because I am adamantly opposed to connecting with people I don’t know. This includes the self-described “Master Networker” whose impersonal–and unintentionally ironical–LinkedIn request I rejected out of hand last year.

As I have eyed my rising tally of connections in recent months, I have verged on panic. Who can I cut? That weeding-out process led to dropping about 20 from my list–these, by and large, were people with whom I had a tenuous connection in the first place.

However, as I continue forging relationships with people, this climb toward 500 has forced me to concede (hope?) that a rising quantity of business relationships doesn’t automatically translate to a declining level of one-on-one connectedness.

For sure, cultivating an expanding lineup of relationships takes diligent tending, like someone who’s gone from growing a few tomatoes to filling an entire backyard with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

In this regard, I have been relatively conscientious, taking the time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and touching base with newer people in my life from time to time.

But now, I’ve got to step up my game. So here’s my pledge:

At least once every six months, I will reach out to every single individual with whom I am Linked-In. That translates into an average of four people per business day–not an overwhelming task, but one that needs to be intentionally pursued to achieve.

In that outreach (typically by email), I will build on what I’ve done from the start: offer a brief update, both personal and professional, ask how my LinkedIn connection is doing, and then let him or her know that I’m available to be a resource. Otherwise, why are we on LinkedIn together?

My hope is that some business will flow from the effort, in both directions. LinkedIn has helped lead to Inside Edge PR business in the past, though it’s been the exception more than the norm.

And if someone doesn’t deign to give even a superficial reply?

That’s a good clue that he or she is no longer a good fit for me on LinkedIn. We’ll see, maybe over time I’ll be back in the less-rarefied air that I’ll dub the 499-Minus Club.

I can’t be the only who would gladly trade 400-something legitimate connections for 500+ watered-down contacts.

What about you? Whether you have five connections or 5,000 (the maximum allowed by LinkedIn is 30,000), I challenge you to implement your own variation on my ReachOut strategy. Otherwise, you may just find you’ve got a glorified name list or, worse yet, a lame list.

Psst, you may also be interested in checking out my prior writings and exhortations related to LinkedIn.


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