There are always many discussions about what is most important in networking: quality or quantity. In “Let’s Connect!” I wrote about this discussion. Since it is pretty fundamental I repeat it here and then discuss the strength of weak links.
Actually the discussion is about a “wrong” topic. It is not quantity that is important, but diversity. The consequence, however, is that the more diverse your network is, the more people will be in it.
Let’s look at both quality and diversity a little bit closer.
The Importance of Quality
Let me start by asking you a question: what is quality? How do you define it?
Many people perceive people with a high position in a large and well-known company as “high quality”. Let’s call such a person Mr. Big Shot. And they do everything they can to come into contact with her when they see her at an event. But when they get a few minutes of this person’s attention they don’t know what to say and focus on exchanging business cards. Afterwards they send emails and start calling Mr. Big Shot, only to be blocked by her secretary. And then they are disappointed in Mr. Big Shot, the event where they attended and in networking in general.
Do you recognize this situation? From your own experience or from someone you know? Then it might be a good idea to look differently at “quality”.
For me “quality” can only be measured when compared to your goals. A person is of “high quality” if she (or her network) can help you to reach your goals better and faster. Mr. Big Shot could be high quality, but he is also very busy. So it might be a good idea to look for other people of equal quality that are easier to approach and who have more time for you.
So quality is definitely important in networking. But so is diversity. Why?
There are 4 reasons:
1. Your goals change over time: someone who is now of “low quality” to you might be of very high quality three years down the road.
2. More opportunities
3. Value for your network: someone might not be of “high quality” to you for the moment, but might be of very high quality for someone of your network.
4. Diversity creates a larger safety net when circumstances change: the more diverse your network the more opportunities when you need a new job.
Since both quality and diversity are important, key is to find your own balance between them.
To your success !