Dan Schawbel recently wrote about the number of friends vs quality of each friend. It’s an interesting post, that you should check out. His conclusion was this.
“You need both volume and quality. You cannot substitute one for the other. To win the personal eBranding game, you must be hyper-connected, yet maintain relationships with 20% of your network that will provide you with 80% of the value you need (80/20 rule of networking).”
Personally, though, I’m on the fence about this. Yes, I do see where he’s coming from. There’s definitely value in having volume. I don’t think anyone can argue against that.
But there is one factor that I want to bring up, that I think is more important than both the quality of the relationships and the number of friends. I think what is most important is who your friends are, as Seth Godin has touched on before.
In his video podcast, Dan mentioned the example that if you were looking to hire someone, you are more likely to hire someone with 500 connections on LinkedIn than someone with just 5 connections. The number of connections give credibility to your personal brand.
While that is true, to an extent, I would say that who is in your network lends even more credibility. Would you rather hire someone with recognized thought leaders in their network or someone who’s netwrk consists of just their high school classmates?
I believe you’ll gain more – in terms of the credibility it gives to your personal brand, the opportunities that will arise, etc – from having recognized thought leaders in your network. You might have more high school classmates, and you might have a closer relationship with your high school classmates, but I think that the network of your high school classmates might not be as valuable (unless your high school classmates are recognized experts in their field, of course).
As Dan mentioned, “the more connected you are, the better the chance that an opportunity will arise.” But even more so, if you are connected to the right people, there’s an even better chance that an opportunity will arise.
So, yes, you should continue to try and “become more social online and offline in order to maximize those numbers and befriend more individuals in the process”, as Dan suggested. But that should be done one at a time, and with a focus on who you are befriending.
What do you think is the most important part of your personal network? How do you build your network so that it provides the most value for you?