It’s hard to keep up with the tweaks that the good folks at LinkedIn are making to their calculations of network size. Mid-December I noticed that the total users I could contact through an introduction plummeted by 8 million from 15 million to 7 million. One day later it was up to 18.5 million which was more than ever before! For the past few weeks I’ve been inching closer and closer to 20 million. Imagine my surprise when it plummeted again to just over 15 million! I wondered just what was going on so I headed over to LinkedIn online help and found this entry:
Network Size ChangeWhy has my network size changed?LinkedIn is a website with millions of members having close to a billion real world contacts. These numbers are constantly changing. We've always provided an estimate of your third degree network size and we have recently changed the way that we calculate that estimate. This formulation can not be shared as the calculations will continue to be refined. Network size is not viewed by LinkedIn to really be a useful measure of capability on LinkedIn. Your third degree network no longer limits who will be included in your final search results. Your search goes across all LinkedIn members at the same time bringing back both in network and out of network results.
I have no idea if this entry is new since it isn’t dated however it seems to explain a little about what is going on. More interesting is the statement that “your third degree network no longer limits who will be included in your final search results.” I hadn’t noticed that before but sure enough I was able to run some test searches that turned up a few people who weren’t in my network. Those people were displayed as Private with no name listed. The only LinkedIn way to contact them was by sending an InMail (a paid feature private message) since I had no links to them. Interestingly I had to work fairly hard to find people who I wasn’t connected to.
So does LinkedIn network size matter? Is sure does if you want to search for people within the bounds of LinkedIn. Of course you could use one of Shally’s LinkedIn hacks or other methods to search the LinkedIn database from the outside.