Larry BraunerIn establishing social media and business networking connections, quality matters more than quantity, but only to a limited extent.

Admittedly, 100 quality business connections are superior to 400 random ones. I cannot dispute that. However, it’s rarely the either-or proposition that quantity vs. quality suggests.

For example, you connect with 500 people whom you carefully select, and you hope that all will be great connections. You later discover that 100 are fine connections and that the remaining 400 are questionable ones. Of your 100 fine connections, 20 really shine, but only four of them become clients or employees.

Quantity a Prerequisite for Quality

The 80/20 RuleThat’s how networking and prospecting work. Consider it a process of elimination or an outcome of the 80/20 Rule.

Beware of those who discount quantity in their quest for quality business contacts. In practice, they end up with neither one, since quantity is a prerequisite for quality.

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12 Responses to “Quantity vs. Quality in Social Media and Business Networking”

  1. Mari-Lyn Harris on June 19th, 2011 9:31 pm

    Hi Larry,
    I have to say that I am going to disagree with you right now. And only because you need to know who the people are your quality people. To me it’s better to grown your inner circle people, develop relationships with them and expand out rather than being big and growing in.

  2. Gold Testing Equipment on June 19th, 2011 10:41 pm

    Larry, this is a thought provoking post, but I am not sure I understand how your application of the 80-20 rules works in the context of “quantity vs. quality”. We are talking percentages of what? Could you state in precise words what the application of the 80-20 rule would state?

    “However, it’s rarely the either-or proposition that quantity vs. quality suggests.” — I am not sure what you are saying here either. Surely everybody wants both quality and quantity?

    Thanks as always for the mental stimulation.

  3. Karin on June 19th, 2011 11:22 pm

    I agree with you that the more people you have to choose from the more quality connections you will most likely come up with.

    So quantity is definitely of importance. However, using quantity as a measure for your success on the social media sites is questionable at best, in my opinion.

  4. countertops Orlando on June 20th, 2011 3:20 am

    I plan to start a business social networking community. The target group is professionals, any kind of professionals from CEOs to stay at home Moms. I’m confident about the quality of the site itself. Thank you.

  5. Larry Brauner on June 20th, 2011 8:58 am

    @Mari-Lyn Can you honestly say that these are the only people you’ve connected with. Surely you’re connected with and rejected many more in the process of developing these relationships.

    @Gold Testing Equipment In any group, 80% results come from 20% of the members. In other words, each group has a minority of members that produce most of the results. We’re most interested in that minority.

    Regarding “Surely everybody wants both quality and quantity?” — please read Mari-Lyn’s comment. She’s not the only one out there with this approach.

    @Karin I agree with you. Pursuing quantity without it’s counterpart quality is worthless. It’s the combination of the two that are valuable.

    I want to add a point I chose not to make in the article. Even the so-called “low quality” connections have tangential value. They help to make you more findable on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook.

  6. beverly Monical on June 20th, 2011 9:23 am

    I just did a post on this same subject. I agree with you but I also don’t think connecting with everyone in the world, especially on Facebook with their 5000 limit, just to look popular. Sometimes I think people think it makes them look successful if they have 1000’s of followers. Quality is more important to me, but I do hear you.

  7. Larry Brauner on June 20th, 2011 9:38 am

    I agree with you Beverly. I’m not in favor of adding friends indiscriminately on Facebook. I target my friendships and some of them turn out to be valuable.

    On LinkedIn, Twitter or my Facebook page, the more the merrier. I look to make good connections, but my arms are open to all.

    Because I have direct 4,500 contacts on LinkedIn, there are 17+ million people who can see my profile.

  8. Amelia @ International Business on June 21st, 2011 7:00 am

    Quality really matters but we should also not discount the quantity of friends we have in business networking. This is because we are not that close and intimate towards them. The more they are in our network, the more we feel closer to our connections.

    Our business friends are different from our usual friends from our community, work, and school. They act differently, they are more interactive, and more dynamic.

  9. Dave Clarke on June 23rd, 2011 9:51 am

    I don’t think the two are necessarily different.

    The quantity/quality argument can also lead to confusion with people thinking that networking is all about the activity of meeting new people or collecting followers and friends.

    In reality effective business networking is about building relationships and some of those will become the quality inner circle that Mari-Lynn talks about.

    I think there is another application of the 80:20 rule that comes into play. If you are in a new business or role and have to build a network then 80% of your networking time may be meeting new people. Over time 80% of your time will become focused on your close or inner network.

    I also blogged about this recently in my business networking blog:

    Business Networking: Quality or Quantity?

  10. Sue Reddel on June 23rd, 2011 9:57 am

    Interesting topic Larry. Definitely agree that quality is better than quantity for most social media contacts. Ironically, I do agree with the “more the merrier” strategy as well. When it comes to clients and friends you just never know where the next will come from you might as well create an opportunity to meet as many contacts as possible. We’re in control - you can always choose to disconnect if need be.

  11. Dorothy Beckmann@home schooling explained on June 26th, 2011 3:31 pm

    I do not know whether it is the fact that I do not like anything mathematical, but the 80/20 seems hard for me to understand. I came across it on another blog before, still looking for a simplified version of it. Please do not ask me how simple do I want this. Great post anyway!

  12. Jus fruit recette on July 20th, 2012 8:08 am

    To me it’s better to grown your inner circle people, develop relationships with them and expand out rather than being big and growing in.

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