My experience – open vs closed networking

One of the recurring themes on almost any networking discussion group is whether open or closed networking is really more effective. There are lots of debates already stored out there, so I won’t go through them here. Instead, I’ll explain why I’m reversing on a decision I made last fall.

Last fall I decided to dump most of my 4050 contacts on Linkedin, and focus on those people with whom I had a genuine connection. I did it because some of the features of Linkedin, namely the network updates area, were becoming somewhat useless as they were inundated by updates from folks who I ddin’t know very well. In addition, I no longer had the pressing need for a large network from a research perspective, and it seemed like a good time to experiment.

Well, the experiment is over. I’d spent lots of time on open networking, and now I’ve tried closed.

Open wins.

For several reasons:

  1. Linkedin is not just about documenting your network. It’s also a personal advertising system. More connections = more exposure.
  2. Network updates only from my closest connections = boring. What can I say? These people are mature, responsible folks who have solid careers and are busy. They’re not changing jobs every 15 minutes, or hurling sheep at each other – this isn’t Facebook.
  3. I need people I don’t know more often or at least as often as the people I do know. With a closed network it’s much harder to find them.
  4. I found Linkedin less useful. No matter what I went looking for, I was less likely to find it. I was exposed to fewer questions, so I didn’t answer as many. I felt more cutoff from the world.

I know that the open vs closed debate will probably rage forever, and this blogpost won’t shift the balance, but for those who are teetering my vote is teeter more toward open.

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