To me there are only two reasons to remove a connection from my network:
Beyond that every connection is valuable. Why?
Think of it this way: You wouldn't throw out a painting from Rembrandt or Michelangelo because it is "old" - or would you? I wouldn't. With age comes value. How does that relate to LinkedIn?
1.) Except for those who completely abandon a profile, most LinkedIn users add connections every year. Therefore each connection can - in turn - be a link to someone new you may want to meet. You could think of it like interest or like a fine wine. Each connection becomes more valuable with age.
2.) LinkedIn serves a variety of functions including that of a "search engine for people". There is a caveat though: Unless you have a paid account, you can only see people up to three degrees away from you. I'm sure you have heard of the "6 degrees of separation". That means that you are missing out on a lot of potential people who might be able to find you or whose profiles you may want to see, if you reduce your number of connections. Instead of getting rid of connections, I would recommend adding connections. The more connections you have, the more people can find your profile. This could be potential customers, vendors or even potential team members.
3.) Another thing to remember is that you are not the only one to change careers, cities, etc. Others do as well. Therefore the person who may not have been a "good" connection in terms of industry or location last week just so might be in a few months.
4.) On average most people know 250 people - and I do mean "know" personally from work or their daily lives (family, friends, neighbors, favorite barista,...) as opposed to just being a connection on a social media network. These people may not even be on LinkedIn. Is "cleaning up" your list of connections worth giving up 250 potential customers per connection you drop? I don't think so. After all, that would mean giving up 2000 2nd degree potential connections just by cutting out 8 connections! Think about those numbers and what they may represent in terms of business.
5.) Though LinkedIn keeps its algorithms a secret, there are several factors that impact where your profile shows up in search results. Are you at the top of page 1 when someone is looking for your name or a key word on your profile - or are you at the bottom of page 9? Two of the factors that may partially influence your standing are:
A) How many connections you have. After all, if it weren't important, LinkedIn wouldn't show a number or the mysterious "500+".
B) How active you are on LinkedIn: Adding connections is an "activity", as is interacting with them.
Therefore my recommendation is to continue adding connections instead of removing them. Use LinkedIn to build business relationships for the long term and grow your network on a regular basis.
What is your view on this topic? Please share it in the comments below.
And one more thing: If we aren't connected yet, how about changing that? Send me an invitation to email@example.com.
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Image courtesy of KDelaneyphoto.com
Heike Heemann, LinkedIn and career coach, brings over 20 years of business experience to her blog.