The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

March 07, 2012

Open vs. Selective Networking: A Look at Both Sides

Professionals nationwide are unified in their use of LinkedIn, the largest business social networking site in the world. LinkedIn members are divided by their views of the most effective networking practices.  One group asserts that open networking – accepting all invitations to maximize your total connections – is the best way to use LinkedIn, while the other side favors selective networking – connecting only with those you know personally. Each school of thought has both positive and negative implications, which are outlined below:

Networking Method
  • Access to numerous users and their connections(your second degree connections) creates exponentially growing opportunities for networking

  • For employers, larger group of professionals to whom you can expose your organization

  • For employers, higher visibility to potential candidates

  • For candidates, greater access to employers to whom you can expose your professional credentials and personal brand

  • For candidates, a larger network increases the chance of being referred directly to an employer by one of your connections
  • Irrelevant newsfeed content and network updates

  • Connection to users in fields, industries, position levels or geographic locations that are neither beneficial nor interesting

  • Exposure to spam and/or unwanted advertising

  • Time wasted sifting through second degree connections for relevant users may deduct from networking productivity

  • Impersonal relationship with connections
  • Significantly less unwanted correspondence

  • Your connections provide direct access to your own career interests

  • Newsfeed content and network updates are interesting because you either know the users personally or are tied to them by a common professional concern

  • More trustworthy connection base

  • Using discretion in accepting invitations will likely prevent connections to fake accounts
  • Limiting the exposure of your organization, resume, website or other content to a finite number of users

  • Restricting yourself from access to potentially valuable connections that could contribute to your career or your organization

  • Corresponding only with those who you already know is contradictory to the objective of networking

Informed of the advantages and disadvantages of both networking approaches, you will ultimately need to assess your own professional objectives in order to determine whether being a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION) or selective networker is best for you. Regardless of your choice, you will still need to engage in strategic networking activities to maximize the value of your LinkedIn account. Becoming an Open Networker is useless if you do not make a conscious effort to publicly share content and form meaningful relationships with your connections.  In addition, you will not benefit from selective networking if you do not have clearly defined criteria for those with whom you wish to connect. If you carefully select and diligently apply the method of your choice you can benefit tremendously from the networking opportunities available on LinkedIn.

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