Personal Branding

How Big Is Your Network?

March 29, 2010

The other day I received a Facebook friend request from someone I didn’t know. While I was surprised at the request, it wasn’t the first time. When I view their profile they had over 3,500+ ‘friends,’ zero of which I knew. While there are those that use Facebook to build quality connections and meet new people, there are those that ‘collect’ friends. Like baseball cards, there are some who boast about the number of friends that they have on Facebook.

Still, this is nothing new. Long before there was LinkedIn, there was business cards, and before that, a simple handshake. For as long as ‘networking’ has been linked with ‘opportunity’ and ‘possibility,’ it seems that the common sentiment is that the larger your network is, the more opportunities you will have. With social media though, ones’ ‘network’ is evolving into more than just ‘opportunities’ and ‘possibilities,’ but ‘relationships.’

Size Matters

“Yup, you better believe it.”

If there are two approaches to ones network when it comes to social media, the first concept is that the more people you have in your network, the better. A great example of this is on Twitter. If you browse through some of the users on Twitter, it won’t take you long to find users that are Following 15,000 people. While it would be amazing if they knew all 15,000, the truth is that they probably know at most between 500-1,000 of that group. For the rest of the 14,000 or so, they are just icing on the cake.

Pros: Large ‘network’ that you can share content with

Cons: Lack of relationships with a majority of your network, difficulty in filtering information from your network

It’s Not The Size Of Your Network, It’s How You Use It

The other approach that you will find social media users engaging in is the good old fashioned “quality over quantity” approach. This approach is the complete opposite of the “Size Matters” approach in that it focuses on building quality and meaningful relationships with a smaller, more manageable group. Although the ‘network’ may only reach out to 100-300 users at a time, the power of this network can be just as effective and in some cases even more influential than that of the individual who is ‘friends’ with 15,000.  The reason for this lies in the core network itself. Because the group is smaller, and thus easier to manage, this allows the user to spend more time creating and nurturing relationships with other individuals. In response, the network has stronger ties and in most cases willing to go further when helping each other.

Pros: More time available to build relationships with each, network connections more willing to help, ability to monitor relationships with ease

Cons: Smaller network, your content/news may reach only a couple hundred as opposed to thousands

So which approach do you practice? Do you collect ‘friends’ like their rookie cards or do you worry less about size, and more about quality? It is too early to say which one is better or worse and until then, the question remains: “Does Size Matter?”

Photo by Robert Scoble


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