About once a year, I go through a purge of my professional networks. I do it more often with social media networks as “friends” drop off the radar, or some posts from friends/acquaintances are nothing but hyper-political rants (I plead guilty to the occasional rant myself), age-old video retreads, or just offensive content.
But professional networks represent (or should) a different collection of individuals who are trusted contacts where you can exchange ideas, job leads, and other opportunities. Not everyone you know or have known should get in to your networks (a policy I embrace). The quality of your network is tied directly to the quality of the professionals in it.
Here are 10 reasons to purge your professional network on a regular basis.
The decision for who you select for your network (other trusted professionals) should be grounded in your overall network (LinkedIn, Twitter, others) and career strategy.
Your definition of “trusted professional” may change over time as many in your network seek to help others first, while some seem to always seek help from others first. I receive a number of requests on a daily basis from people I do not know to join my LinkedIn network. If they are members of a client organization which subscribes to my career strategy services, seminars, or consulting, I generally accept the request after reviewing their profile.
Your first-degree connections usually are with people already in your offline network that you’ve known since “pre-network” days. They are the first layer of your multidimensional network.
You can have too many first-degree connections, but you can’t have too many trusted first-degree connections. You aren’t trying to be the Ashton Kutcher of LinkedIn, because that’s not the purpose of professional networks. Trusted first-degree connections are those folks who can facilitate introductions and connections to others in their networks. Remove contacts who may not be able to assist here.
Review your participation in network discussion groups; you want your participation in those groups to reflect your current career and professional interests. When those change, think about dropping those discussion groups that are no longer pertinent and joining others that now are.
Review your endorsements and recommendations to determine if they reflect your current career position; if not, remove them. Purge (or reprioritize) any stale skills in the endorsements as well.
Review any documents, photos, presentations you may have in your chosen professional network to ensure they still reflect your current career position; if not, delete or update them as necessary.
Rethink keywords used in your profile that others may search on and ensure those keywords remain current and germane to your current or future career strategy.
Be sure to purge dead links to blogs, YouTube videos, websites and ensure the active links provide helpful information for others. Be seen as a resource for others first, and others will gladly return the favor.
When receiving requests to join your network, you have several options available: You can accept, reply to a request (to ask for more information from the requestor), ignore a request, or report the request as spam. Ask yourself: “Which response will enhance the quality of my existing network?”
For your professional network to function like a well-oiled “reciprocal opportunity machine,” it will require two important components: your finely tuned expertise (skills, knowledge, experience and accomplishments), and the quality of those unique trusted relationships in that network.