Eric Ly and LinkedIn

Eric Ly: co-founder and CTO of LinkedIn; now CEO and Founder of Presdo, Inc. recently headlined a Socially Savvy panel /workshop I attended which was aptly moderated by Jeff Crilley, CEO of Real News and former Fox reporter.  Ly talked about his passion for combining innovative products, technologies and business models to create highly successful businesses. LinkedIn, the largest IPO since Google, 10 years ago; has become the go to source for business professionals.

I asked him, “quantity or quality? Do we say yes to all of the invitations who claim to be a friend and we either have no memory of this person, or met them casually 1 time?” His answer surprised me, “quality”, he said.  “Accept those you’ve had a meaningful relationship with, or know fairly well. Ignore the rest. I park them in ignore. Maybe I’ll go back someday if our paths cross again”. He asked,” how many friends can you possibly have”?’

Ly quoted anthropologist Robin Dunbar, referenced in Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, who caps the number of people you can possibly know at 150, “as the maximum number of people you can have a relationship with; knowing who they are and how they relate to us.”

The growing debate amongst LinkedIn users argues both sides equally well. Some claim that building trust and long term relationships is what networking is all about. .The quantity argument says the more people the better the possibility of starting something new. A contact might turn out to be valuable and business is about making connections.

While I’m with Ly, quality over quantity, I did notice he has more than 150

“Friends” on his LinkedIn. Still I sat up and took notes when he said “the single most important thing you can do to get business? Join LinkedIn groups in which you have an interest. Be the go to person, have well thought out opinions, and give advice. It’s not about you- it’s about creating value.”

And after all isn’t that what business has always been about?