Why I deleted Brad Feld and other 1000 high profile connections from LinkedIn

For the last years, on LinkedIn I’ve religiously only added people I met or worked together, but I wasn’t always so diligent: when I first tried to break into the tech and startup scene, I most probably went on a “connect” spree.

Weak high-profile connections are useless

The other day I was looking at a LinkedIn profile in order to see if I could get a warm intro to someone. When I saw I had 15 connections in common I thought: “awesome, this is gonna be fast and easy” — but after looking at each one of them I realized I didn’t really feel comfortable asking for an intro to anyone of those.

Some of the people I had met 4+ years ago, some I had only exchanged a couple of emails with and some I literally had no idea who they were.

That quickly made for a loss of time.

But more worryingly, what if that other person was checking on me and looking for references? He would have reached out to most of these people and they’d all have responded something along the lines of “I have no idea who that is” or “Yeah, met him a long time ago, don’t know him that well”.

That’s not good at all.

I love Brad Feld, but I’ve never met the guy. I spoke to him on Skype more than 6 years ago about how to replicate TechStars in Italy — but he’ll never remember it (I almost didn’t!). What if someone had seen Brad as a mutual connection and reached out to him asking what he thought about me?

I probably need to do a better job of keeping in touch with people, but the reality is that I’ve probably been too liberal in adding people.

So, today I took some time, went through my 2.5k connections and removed more than 1000 of them.

Criteria I used

I decided I would remove anyone of the following:

  • I didn’t know / forgot who it was
  • I doubted they would remember who I was
  • I only exchanged a couple of emails with
  • I had never met

I removed more than 1000 but I still will probably need a second pass.

Why you should do it too

  • You’ll have a much better LinkedIn experience.
  • You’ll get better warm introductions.

But most importantly

  • When people will backchannel you they will only reach out to people that know who you are and can answer questions.

Removing high profile connections you might have added out of excitement in the past may sound crazy — and I had some reservations before removing partners at A16Z, Founders Fund, tons of entrepreneurs, etc. — but the reality is that they are completely useless connections and can oftentimes even hurt you.

What do you think about it?