Why I Killed 61% of My LinkedIn Friends

LinkedIn-InMap-300x241Recognizing I had 2,474 LinkedIn connections three months ago, I posted a question on this blog:

Should my network be tight enough that they can recommend me without asking who I am and what I do? If we’re only connected because of a shared interest or geography, is that enough of a reason to sever the weak link?

Phil Gerbyshak appreciated my thoughts and wrote his own blog post in response evaluating 5 reasons to sever that link, including his belief that if you’ve never interacted with someone since that initial LinkedIn connection request (or if you don’t remember when your last interaction occurred), remove the person.

On the nature of LinkedIn invitations, Ed Alexander sums it nicely:

Do you want to be seen as trustworthy, honest and accurate in your communications?

If you don’t use LinkedIn to discriminate between strangers and trusted relationships then, by all means, link away. Just don’t expect me to reciprocate until after we have established a mutual, credible dialogue.

You need to grasp that LinkedIn is an ecosystem. If you connect with me and we never (or rarely) interact, then why are we connected? That’s like having my phone number in your rolodex but you never call. Why am I there?

Arik Hanson suggests that weak links damage your LinkedIn reputation. Recommendations and endorsements are fallacies unless they are from people who have direct experience in working with you.

This is the elephant in the room no one really wants to talk about, it seems. How many recommendations are based on the assumption: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours?

I’m tired of assumptions. I’m tired of connecting to people because we once met at an event and we think we have something in common. Yeah, our commonality is we’re connected and then nothing happens.

The number of my connections decreased 61% from 2,474 in May 2013 to 961 today. I removed everyone who I don’t remember meeting, communicating, or otherwise knowing anything about beyond what’s in their profile.

Dan Schawbel believes you should accept LinkedIn requests from everyone.

I used to believe that — three years ago! That’s when I thought the only way social media could connect us is if we connected to each other. How wrong I was. Connecting to each other without evaluating the other person — and keeping in touch with the other person on a frequent basis — sets both of us up for failure.

If you want to connect with strangers or those you don’t know well, use the follow feature on Facebook or the list feature on Twitter. Forget about LinkedIn for those weak or nonexistent links.

These are my thoughts.

What are yours?

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This article “Why I Killed 61% of My LinkedIn Friends” first appeared on AriHerzog.com

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog is a digital PR strategist living in northeast Massachusetts. He is the founder of Social Media Breakfast North Shore. He's been featured in many publications including TechRepublic, Poynter, CBS Moneywatch, and Bank of America'a blog.
Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

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  1. says

    I add just about anyone who requests me on LinkedIn (except if I truly get bad vibes from their profile). For the most part, it has served me well. When I need to find a new employee or a new vendor, I’ve got a large pool of connections to reach out to. When I need feedback from a certain industry, I can find a few I’m connected to. Also, when I want to reach out to someone whose a 3rd or 4th level connection, I can usually find a friend whose willing to be the “connector”, (though I don’t believe in asking a stranger for an introduction to an associate of theirs without having genuine rapport first).

    Where is it a negative? Spam. I get quite a bit of spammy “join my group”, “try this product for something that doesn’t relate to you or your industry” requests and pleas for written recommendations, (sorry, I don’t recommend a service or employee unless I’ve had actual experience with said person/service.)

    Just my two cents :)


    • says

      If your system works for you, great. But ask yourself this: Unless you can adequately recommend every person in your LI network without looking up to see who they are, you might be connected for the wrong reasons.

      • says

        Based on how I use it, yes. ;) I’m connected with as many as possible so I can reach those I would not otherwise be able to reach.

        Of course, the most effect tool on LinkedIn, Inmail, eliminates the need to friend seed. But it’s a pay feature (you get a habdful free) and very under utilized by LinkedIners (it’s a word now, lol)

        I bumped up to a premium account. It makes recruiting talent much easier than posting in groups. I do advanced searches for traits I want in the zip code so want and I Inmail them. It works 99% of the time surprisingly. In the event it’s not accepted, I get the credit back for the Inmail and then I fall back to my old faithful route of “how else can I connect to this person through my network?”


  2. says

    It's not just "like having my phone number in your rolodex", it's also having your phone number in my rolodex, which is frequently browsed by my friends, colleagues etc. If I offered you to send your business flyer to my relations, no costs involved, would you decline that offer? You could question the effectivity but I don't think it would do you any harm.

  3. says

    I completely disagree with this post. I add pretty much anyone who thinks they would like to connect with me and reach out to anyone who looks interesting to me professionally. This has served me well. As an example I reached out to a local contact for professional advice on a personal matter. He not only was helpful he went out of his way to help at in this case no charge. We will be meeting in the near future to network in person and see how we can help each other. Needless to say he will receive referrals if I have a client or colleague who might need his services.
    My recent post Is a Variable Annuity Right for You?

  4. says

    Ari, I completely understand your point. While I do tend to connect with people I don't know who have some shared interests, I am very discriminating with who I will allow to connect to my network. For example, maybe a couple times a month I get a request from someone who i may have connected with through a technology community group, asking to connect with one of my former business colleagues. Unless I know this person well, or something about their request is very compelling, i deny the connection. Why stay connected with these loosely connected people? For the reasons some others have mentioned here — I am happy to wade through the 50 bad requests to find the rare good request that I may not have otherwise found had my social circles been more closed off. I wish LinkedIn would add one feature: close connection vs loose connection, with the ability to assign different access levels. That, in my mind, would solve this issue of wanted to tap into the collective of an increasingly large social base, without budging on my standards for close connections.

  5. says

    Such an interesting article! One of the things that I have found about Social Media, is that while all of us have access to the same tools, we can each choose how to use them however we see fit. Personally, this approach wouldn't work for me, nor do I agree with some of it. However, perhaps the greatest factor in having Social Media success is being authentic. Good for you for having the courage to go against the trend of "the more connections the better" and going with your instinct!

  6. says

    What I love about social media is the ability to customize it to suit your needs. I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong" way to use it.

    What DOES bother me about LinkedIn connections, is when people (i.e. strangers) request a connection without some sort of customized or personal message. The assumption that I'll just add you for no reason is ridiculous and those are the people I actively ignore.

    I used to reply, politely asking people to "refresh my memory" on how we met…but there are SO MANY of these coming in that I just don't have time to do their work for them.

    My recent post The shocking truth about learning from your mistakes.

  7. says


    I have always taught the "Coffee, Meal, or Beer Rule" …which means I do not link to people on LinkedIn or Facebook (Twitter is different) that I have not had a cup of coffee, a meal or a beer with in person (or the digital equivalent, which is some level of online interaction). Meeting at a conference and trading cards is not enough to have a foundation to build upon. Having a mutual friend does not mean much in out over connected online world.

    Strangers do not usually think about their random links and refer business, so having tons of them in your ecosystem has little pay off to you or them. If you need to find someone for a legit reason, you can easily locate them without being connected on Linkedin.

    I was glad to see I made the cut and am still connected to you on LinkedIn. I remember our lunch in Boston last year!!! (although I had accepted your link earlier, as we had that digital equivalent via social media interactions before lunch)


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