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Why advice on how big your network should be is probably wrong

Should you curate a small and meaningful network, or cast your net as wide as possible? Let’s discuss.

BASHH network event

I was researching networking advice for y’all recently, and I came across a video where they lay out the exact size a professional’s network should be.

They used charts and graphics and music and it was all legitimately very inspiring – I signed up for their emailer but I might be in an MLM now, I dunno.

Fast forward a few weeks (and several attempts to unsubscribe before straight up blocking), and the advice continues to circle in my mind.

I went to the final BASHH of 2022, and I knew their advice was wrong not only because I didn’t repeat it at any time while at a networking event where people asked for my advice on the topic, but because I looked out into a sea of unique faces.

I realized that none of it can or should be quantified. Truly. Each network is as unique as each person in the room, and what is good for one person isn’t useful for another.

But you’re probably still wondering how big or small your network should be. Should you limit your network, close your network, and more deeply connect with your tribe?

Or should you make it a goal to meet 10 new people every week, whether online or in person? Maybe 100?

None of the above.

Sure, it can be helpful for some types of people to set goals to stay accountable to themselves, but let it stay a goal instead of a requirement. Don’t start adding strangers or shedding friends on your social networks, it’s inauthentic and honestly, a waste of time.

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The best approach is customized to you and it changes over time.

When you’re job hunting or starting a new company or in sales, you’ll network with any human who is down for it. If you’re on chapter one of your first novel and living in a tiny home in the Adirondacks, you might curate your network more intentionally.

Your networking goals are also going to be different based on your industry, phase of career, and so forth. When you’re nearing the end of your career, people will seek you out for mentoring and advice, whereas the beginning of your career, you’ll be the seeker.

We all build our networks in layers over time based on our needs, the needs of those around us, and what the context of our lives are.

So if you see TikTok or YouTube videos with snazzy charts that make you feel like any of this is quantifiable, just keep scrolling.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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