Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Developer and Java Champion. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Why no more than 500 connections?

I recently updated my status on LinkedIn to read:

Matt is determined not to have 500+ connections. Will start removing connections soon.

A couple of days later, I received the following message from a connection:

I noticed the other day you mentioned that you are determined to not have over 500 LinkedIn connections. I'm wondering what the reason is? Not just because LinkedIn shows 500+ after that, is it? As you work for LinkedIn, I assume there's some other reason. I'm interested to know what it is...

I joined LinkedIn May 27, 2003, 22 days after it initially launched. For the first few years, I accepted invitations when I received them. Some folks I knew, some I didn't. When I started consulting for LinkedIn last summer, I had somewhere between 200 and 300 connections. Most of them were people who had contacted me, not folks I had contacted.

One day, I used the import webmail contacts feature to pull in my contacts from Gmail. My number of connections quickly jumped by 100 and it's increased quite a bit since then (mostly due to co-workers from LinkedIn). Of the almost 500 connections I have, I believe there's a good 100-200 of them that are folks I don't know, have never had contact with, and will likely never benefit from being "connected" with.

I guess the main reason I'm planning on trimming my connections is to make my network higher quality. I admit I'm somewhat motivated by the 500+ icon, but it's also a genuine feeling that there's quite a few folks I won't benefit from being connected to. I'm not a LION after all. I believe my LinkedIn network should resemble my real-world network.

What's your opinion? Should I have folks in my network that know me, but I don't know them?

Posted in The Web at Jun 01 2008, 06:40:59 PM MDT 17 Comments

Matt - I definitely encourage you to keep those connections clean. I never understand the point of connecting with people on social networks if you don't know who they are. All it adds is noise and confusion down the road when you really need to find a strong path to someone.

Posted by Patrick Lightbody on June 02, 2008 at 01:11 AM MDT #

I'd say trim 'em. As long as you don't delete mine. :-)

I've been trying to keep mine to people I know using the fact that through the degrees of separation you should be able to contact people you need to talk to.

I've had people I hadn't seen in a while contact me and I've accepted those, but there's some I didn't know and don't want them contacting my friends and them getting ticked off.

Hope this helped -


Posted by Greg Ostravich on June 02, 2008 at 03:01 AM MDT #

"Should I have folks in my network that know me, but I don't know them?"

My view, though I may be in the minority on this, is no. I find it of little benefit to connect to people that I have little or no relation to, because ultimately it's just noise.

Posted by stephen o'grady on June 02, 2008 at 03:07 AM MDT #

Everyone one of my linked in connections are those that i can drop a mail and say hey hows the new job going...

If i cant email them, they aint there.

I would trim down Matt, I reckon alot of people will link into others just to get their numbers up. Remeber, quality not quantity.

(linked in request on its way :) )

Whats happening with the linked in group for appfuse, that could be a good way to remove links from your personal profile and them then to the group.

Posted by reddeagle on June 02, 2008 at 08:19 AM MDT #

I am quite strict with my contacts. Especially on LinkedIn. I see no point adding people I never have talked to - and probably never will. Does this person know me? Can it tell someone else something about me? These are the questions I usually ask myself. General rule of thumb: if you haven't met me IRL or at least via phone you will probably be NOT end up as a contact. Only exception: people I know through open source communities via email for ages.

Posted by Torsten Curdt on June 02, 2008 at 08:42 AM MDT #

> Whats happening with the linked in group for appfuse, that could be a good way to remove links from your personal profile and them then to the group.

I created the LinkedIn Group for AppFuse a couple weeks ago. I agree that if I don't know someone, but they know me through AppFuse, it makes sense to disconnect and prompt them to join the AppFuse group. However, for many connections, there's no record of the invite or the context that the "connection" took place in. For others, there's a record (because we messaged back and forth on LinkedIn) that prompts me to not remove them.

I value unique invites from folks who know I don't know them, especially when they provide a reason why we should be connected.

Posted by Matt Raible on June 02, 2008 at 01:30 PM MDT #

Drop 'em. I'm pretty strict with my network. Not only do I need to know you personally, but I only link to people whose work I respect. If I couldn't recommend you for a job, or if I wouldn't want to work with you again, then you're not going to be in my network.

Posted by Chris M. on June 02, 2008 at 02:54 PM MDT #

Hi Matt, No problem if you drop me. You popped up when I imported contacts from gmail (from previous mails on appfuse) I'll just keep in touch via blog feedback or email. Mick

Posted by Mick Huisking on June 02, 2008 at 03:55 PM MDT #

Hi Matt - Your name (and Rick Cecil's) show up under "People you may know" when I log into Linked In. Spooky that it knows the blogs I read... :) I guess I'll skip inviting you so I don't get trimmed!

Posted by Chris R. on June 03, 2008 at 03:36 AM MDT #

Matt, What's the point of deleting the contacts? I would keep them. May be the contacts that you have in your network might benefit from you. Isn't it wonderful? I try to separate REAL from ONLINE.. If you mimic you real network online, what's the chance to meet new people and learn new things? Keep it.

Posted by Muthu Ramadoss on June 03, 2008 at 04:22 AM MDT #

Linking with people >= you generally makes sense ;) I just have a placeholder linkedin account and primarily use it to keep in touch with people I know / former co-workers.

Muthu : "May be the contacts that you have in your network might benefit from you."

Why should someone you don't know or you cant vouch for benefit by having you in their network connections? It's kinda like recommending someone for a job without knowing them.

Posted by Sanjiv Jivan on June 03, 2008 at 12:05 PM MDT #

Hey Matt,

Had sent you note already, then saw this post.

My criteria for keeping a connection is the answer to "is the ice already broken?" Said another way: could I contact <Joe> and, in a sentence (if that), successfully refresh their memory of who I am to sufficiently enable a larger conversation? If yes, then LI connection is OK.

Recommendations are a whole other matter. Here the question is "Would I hire/work with this person again?" The answer has to be a Strong Yes to warrant a rec.

Can't say I'm aiming for 500+. Will happen when it happens. Trying to find/retain as many bona fide contacts as possible: classmates, friends from jobs in early 90s, etc. Have gotten a fair number to join up, create profiles and get started. Your advice a while back on the importance of such efforts and my own feelings on how great a tool LI is help further this.

Do get some invites from the blue, usually based on "hey, we were both in the Navy". After replying to ask duty station lest memory be failing, am not inclined to accept these sorts given that they fail the broken ice test.

Posted by Erick Reid on June 04, 2008 at 05:41 PM MDT #

Hi Matt, Do you have to approve membership to the linkedin user group? -Redd

Posted by reddeagle on June 09, 2008 at 03:08 PM MDT #

> Do you have to approve membership to the linkedin user group?

Yes, all LinkedIn group memberships are moderated at this time.

Posted by Matt Raible on June 09, 2008 at 03:17 PM MDT #

Well matt, then i believe I am off your contact list :)

Posted by Sreeram Koneru on June 09, 2008 at 08:20 PM MDT #

>Yes, all LinkedIn group memberships are moderated at this time.

Got ya,

What's the criteria for acceptance into the group... I feel left out ..

Posted by reddeagle on June 09, 2008 at 09:35 PM MDT #

I don't see a request from you to join the group.

Posted by Matt Raible on June 09, 2008 at 09:43 PM MDT #

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