A debate regarding the Quality vs. Quantity [QvQ] issue has been going on for quite sometime now on the LinkedIn YahooGroups [MyLinkedInPowerForum and LinkedInnovators]. Lots of inividual opinions about how people tackle the issue themselves.

One of my connections on LinkedIn, Barbara Holtzman, who is the Founding Partner & Senior Associate of the BDH Group, had the following to say on the LinkedInnovators YahooGroup:

There’s an American/English saying, “Beating a dead horse.” It’s starting to apply to the QvQ debate. Why do people care? Humans as a species are caring creatures and we each have our own list of things we care about, sometimes passionately, especially when it comes to relationships – which is what networks are sets of.

Those who say you can’t maintain active relationships with 100, 1,000, or 10,000, whatever the number they state, are probably correct. So? Someone I haven’t heard from in a few months asked me if I knew anyone who might want to buy his art, and I do – but I haven’t spoken to her in oh, maybe 5 years. Neither time span doesn’t at all mean I wasn’t pleased he asked, or that she wasn’t thrilled to hear from me again (she was) and is, indeed, interested in this project. Deep, shallow, what does it matter? Two people got connected, and they probably wouldn’t have without me.

Under some of the criteria listed here, she wouldn’t even have been in my address book. Most than three, six, twelve months, no job, no deals, no whatever? Dump ’em! By the way, if you set up your contacts in Outlook, Act!, or similar programs in a “tickler” file, which salespeople use to make sure they remember to follow-up, then you can check and see whether you’ve been in touch or not. The journal in Outlook also helps track contact.

This timed method may work for some, but it doesn’t work for me. I’ve met the most amazing people through online networking, some I see, some I speak to on the phone, some I email – and others are just there, on the list, waiting until I THINK OF SOMETHING I CAN DO FOR THEM. I do give to get, I’m not completely altruistic, but giving is the most important piece of it for me – not any quid pro quo.

Perhaps that’s a dividing line between the quality-ists and the quantity-ists (better terms altogether than some we’ve used). The quality folks believe that it’s better to only have a few people you can know really well, and keep out everyone else, or that if someone can’t do something for you, then you don’t need them, and the quantity folks believe that there’s no such thing as someone it isn’t worth it to know, and that just because you can’t do a deal this week doesn’t mean they won’t ever be of value in some way. They may also be motivated by the thrill of having a big first level, just as the quality-ists are motivated by having a small, manageable list, and emphasize but “pure,” if you will, list.

Both sides have positives and negatives – and if you heard judgment in any of that, it’s in your head, not mine. This is the focal point of the “why do people care” argument – if you think I’ve improperly synthesized everything that’s been said about the topic, well, that’s what a discussion is for.

Which can go on forever, god help the moderators – but it seems to have taken on an unpleasant undertone – anger, that one way is right and the other wrong, as if to say, “why can’t you on the other side see the point” of whatever the one side is saying about itself at the moment? Since there is, arguably, no “right” way to network, only your own way, and it could be a very personal method, not to mention the personal nature of networking itself, how could there be a “right” way or a “wrong” way?

Thank you for the permission for letting me share this Barbara!