Should you reduce your number of Linkedin connections?

Yes, I know. The question itself sounds insane. Reduce your number of Linkedin connections? Crazy. But hear me out…

My story:

I started out on Linkedin in 2012. Back then, getting new connections was as easy as clicking buttons on the “suggested connections” section of your network page. And as I sent more and more invites, my network grew quite quickly.

I ended up with about 3,500 first level connections within a few years. And then I let it go…

Why?

Over all these years, all I got from Linkedin was one article request – when I was still a ghostwriter. The resulting article wasn’t quite what the client wanted, so that was the end. $35 in ten years.

I got very little traffic, and no inquiries from that traffic. And my profile was well optimized for Linkedin search.

Any content I posted performed poorly. Actually, no. It didn’t perform at all.

It took me a while to figure out why.

You see, at the start I was uninformed and naive, and I was flattered by CEO’s and upmarket coaches connecting with me. I accepted all connection requests…

And every few of them were from my target market. While I failed to see it at the time, all of my work over the past 15 years came from small business owners and solopreneurs. That’s the market I understand best, and the market I was able to serve best.

So now I sit with a network (1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections) of about 1.4 million. Fantastic, right?

No. It’s not.

Because only a small percentage of those are actually from my target audience.

As such, when I post something…

The chances of it being seen by the right people are like 3% or so.

Fair enough, it was my own doing. And I made it worse by – for a while – going after people who own social media marketing agencies, and then after recruiters. What can I say? I was – at the time – desperate for work.

But I should have a network that should be spitting out money every time I post, and…

It doesn’t.

Depending on what I post, it is seen by anywhere between 8 and 30 people. Out of those 30 people, there is probably ONE who is part of my actual target market.

And showing it to one person is not a guarantee of engagement, which is what all social platforms look for when they decide if they should show your content to more people.

As such, I have a substantial Linkedin network, which is just about useless.

So now I am in the process of reducing my Linkedin connections. Dramatically.

And it is a slow, time consuming process.

It’s either that, or start a new account, where I only connect with my exact target market. I’m doing that too. But people seem to be a lot more reluctant to connect with me now.

Fair enough, that’s understandable. I’m a partner in a marketing strategy consulting business. And with every Tom, Dick and Harry, their cat, parrot and pet rock wanting to own a “digital marketing agency”…

There’s been a LOT of spamming going on for the last few years.

Back when I started out, I was offering writing- and website services. I guess it seemed less intimidating than my current business interests.

So – should you trim down your Linkedin followers?

Probably – but be careful of which ones you remove:

Some of your connections might not be in your target market, but they may still engage with your content. Keep those ones.

Others like LIONs (Linkedin Open Networkers), serve as connectors. They are channels through which people can reach you, and some of them have huge networks.

And some may be people who deal with your target audience – like suppliers or service suppliers – which allows you connect with more potential clients or customers. You may want to keep those too.

But as for the rest of them…

If that connection is not helping you to connect with more of the right prospects, and isn’t helping you by engaging with your content…

What’s the point of having them?

Consider this:

In my case, let’s say I cut all of the unwanted connections. I am left with say, 350 connections, of which about 2/3 will be for my ICP (ideal customer profile).

That’s a big drop from 3.5K first level connections.

But when I post content, 2/3 of the people who see it will be people in my target audience. As such, the chances of them engaging with my content is sooo much better.

And as a result of that, Linkedin will show my content to people OUTSIDE my network who may be interested in it.

And THAT is where I want to be. Because it is if no use to me to have a huge network and not see any results from it.

It is better to have 100 connections that actually help you to be seen and grow your influence, than to have a huge but useless number of connections that just look good.

How about YOU?