I’ve read several articles about a good way to enlarge one’s own network inside LinkedIn or other social networking tools: it could be a rather “simple” task given the number of involved users, however a bit of strategy may prevent some common mistakes that can penalize this brand new kind of “gold rush“… That’s my recipe:
There are some particular groups made up of open networkers, which purpose is to create communities of people who are interested in connecting among themselves. This is obviously a good way to find out new potential contacts, but it can easily turn into a very frustrating stumble if a person has a limited number of invitations (just like inside LinkedIn, where there’s a limitation of 3000 attempts) and “throw away” them all only with other internal members.
The reason is simple: each group established in order to encourage mutual connections is destined to become an isle inside a social network as its clustering coefficient gets higher and higher with an extraordinary density of links and the number of new members remains quite lower than the daily increment of internal connections.
In other words, such a straining, if abused, may bring about an outstanding limitation of any possibility to exploit a “Small World” network and its easy-fillable gap between levels of connection. Thus I believe that a good advice for an open-networking start-up is to try and find new potential contacts looking at the “boudaries” of such groups and giving an higher weight to 3rd (or more) level connections rather than nearer “friends” with thousands of common links.
In order to understand this kind of strategy you can use the network analysed supplied by LinkedIn: it’s not absolutely difficult to discover that growth-speed of 2nd level connections is lower and lower than 1st level one! That’s a clear sign that the majority of our new links are bringing only common friends and shortly (with an imposed limitation, above all) our network will saturate in a kind of equilibrium point where our possibility to expand it is now next to zero.
So exploit the potential of open networking, but remember to keep a sufficient number of unused invitations for your “exotic, rare souvenirs”!