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If you’re on Linked In you’ve gotten them. The notes from people that you linked up with because you met them once at a mixer or because they knew someone you knew, or, let’s be honest, because you wanted to see that ‘500+ connections’ next to your name.

Some of them will eventually drop you a quick note about what they do and then ask you to endorse them. This must work, because a lot of people are doing it. I get at least one person a week asking me to endorse them. I don’t know them any better than the person ahead of me in line at Starbucks.

Now the truth is, if I wanted not to receive these e-mails, I would never link to people that I wouldn’t recommend. But I get at several requests to link every day, and the more links you have the more you get until it’s a never ending stream. If you’re half paying attention, the urge to just click ‘accept’ will get the best of you. Besides, the more people you’re linked to, the more influential you are, right?

But at the end of the process you have a another version of Facebook, where the connections don’t really mean anything, but you have a good count. It makes Linked In a beauty contest, not the connection engine as it was originally conceived as. Really, if you think about it, your real goal should be to have as few connections as possible, but of high enough quality and character that you would unreservedly recommend them at the drop of a hat. And those that you link with should be willing to do exactly the same for you. Otherwise, what is the point?

What is the point, indeed. Stories are told of collaborations that lead to millions of dollars in deals being done. Tales of jobs, sometimes unsolicited, being brought to people through their Linked In contacts. I do see that happening on a few of the groups that I belong to, rarely. For the most part, it’s a lot of noise as people try to stand out from an ever growing crowd.

Quantity is not quality. Quality begins when we make better choices. That starts with including who’s in and who’s not in our circle of business partners and associates.