The Life Time Magic of Tidying Up Your Professional Life and LinkedIn Connections | Beth’s Blog

The Life Time Magic of Tidying Up Your Professional Life and LinkedIn Connections

Professional Networking, Tips, Tools and Tactics

Last year, I read Marie Kondo’s “The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organization” and just read her book, Spark Joy, both of which, of course,  share techniques and the psychology of de-cluttering your closet and home, but the principles work for your professional life – clearing your calendar, to do list, and especially your online social network connections.    And at a higher level, letting go of projects or delegating tasks so you can create more space in your professional work for growth, revitalization, and innovation.

Kondo asks us to think about what happens to your closet if you don’t give away clothing.  It does not stay neat and tidy with just a few items of clothing that you like to wear.   When you make no conscious effort to keep it organized, the closet becomes a cluttered mess.    Every so often, it might get so out of control that you try to purge your closet.   But you need a disciplined system beyond asking “Will I ever wear this someday in the future?  That question may make it hard to let go.   Kondo suggests asking a question like, “Does this item of clothing give me joy or energy?”  If not, recycle it.

beth badges

Kondo talks about how the most difficult items to tidy are memorabilia.  In a conversation with colleagues who are keynote speakers,   I shared that I have saved all my speaker badges over the last ten years.  The badges are like little trophies in a collection that has taken over several drawers in my desk.    Why not let them go?  Kondo suggests that when you delve into the reasons why we hold onto things is it because we are attached to the past or afraid of the future.     I suggested to Jeremiah Owyang that I needed to Kondo those badges and he tweeted a good idea for a start up!

An easier place to start to “Kondo” your professional life is your online professional network.   I want to start a new habit of being better organized on LinkedIn this year, but perhaps what I need to do first is “Kondo” my LinkedIn network.

I’m an advocate of “Smarter Professional Online Networking” which includes building a strong core for your professional network.  It is your inner circle, a smaller but diverse group of people who give you energy and to use Kondo’s phrase, “spark joy.”    But your inner circle is not your entire professional network.   Your network includes weak ties, people you may not know well but can help you with your goals and open you to new ideas.    The key is having some essential goals.

In age of connectivity, is all about relationships and online social networks like LinkedIn can speed professional relationships — that is the more you are present with your authentic brand, the more you can connect with the right people aligned with your goals.   But don’t confuse social media connections with actual intimacy.   Social Media allows us to have broader relationships, but human relationships have not changed.    We, as humans, have not evolved our capacity to have close relationships with many more people beyond the magic Dunbar number.

We need to set limits or have a connection policy (and disconnection policy).  For example, my colleague, Alexandra Samuel, suggests using the “favor rule.”   Would you ask or do a favor for this connection?   But that doesn’t mean we should only focus on small core or inner circle in our professional network.    LinkedIn and other platforms can help us maintain weak ties people that can provide value.

To get started, here’s what you need to think about:

  • Review your LinkedIn connections  and ask:  Do I know this person? How well?  Where did I meet them?   Can they help me reach my professional goals?   Do they provide value?    Many of us may have started off on LinkedIn accepting connections of people that we don’t know and cluttered up our online professional networks.    It is easy to remove a connection from your LinkedIn network, but yet some have a concern about letting go – that somehow it is rude or the other person might get offended.     When you remove a connection from LinkedIn (“unfriend”), the other person will not receive a beeping notification that screams that you’ve disconnected them from your professional online network on LinkedIn and most likely they won’t notice.
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Source: TopdogSocial Media

You might a have a large network – I do.  So, I’m doing this in small daily chunks, making it a daily habit.

  • Use LinkedIn’s Relationship Tab:   As your professional network grows,  you may not remember how you met someone or the last time you connected or if you are searching through your network for a specific, unique identifier (someone you met at an event), the LinkedIn Relationship Tab can help.   If you want to use LinkedIn as a Rolodex on steroids, you have to keep it tidy.   Do that by aggressively using the relationship tab.  Here you can use tags and notes to help trigger your memory or find the right people faster when searching.    This infographic offers some great tips on effectively using the relationship tab.

You can combine these two steps to “Kondo” your LinkedIn Connections.

How do you de-clutter your professional online network?  Do you have an intentional connection or disconnection policy?

20 Responses

  1. John Haydon says:

    Re: “It is your inner circle, a smaller but diverse group of people who give you energy…”

    Chris Brogan uses the term “Manchu”, an Okinawan word that means “one family”, “extended family” or “the family we choose.”

    My goal in 2016 is to matter more to my Manchu – promoting their agendas, collaborating more, and generally seeking to create value.

  2. Laura Norvig says:

    Love Marie Kondo. Her observation about not being able to let go because you are “attached to the past or afraid of the future,” is spot on. This is the “egoic mind” at work. Focusing on the past or the future inhibits us from being present NOW so there are huge benefits on many levels to doing this decluttering work and observing our attachments.

    (Been reading a lot of https://twitter.com/EckhartTolle lately!)

  3. Beth says:

    John, that is a great goal – and thanks for a new word!

  4. Beth says:

    Laura: Decluttering makes you feel good!

  5. Norman Reiss says:

    At the new year, I use it as an opportunity to reconnect with people I haven’t been in touch with for awhile. Usually I get a very positive response. But it’s true, there are many Linkedin Connections that I can’t quite remember why they are there – probably a good idea to reconnect or let go.

  6. John Haydon says:

    Beth – anytime! Great post!

  7. This is s grest opportunity.

  8. Ann Dermody says:

    Enjoyed the post, Beth. Could definitely use a decluttering of everything in my life, and incidentally, just downloaded that book to iBooks!

  9. Robyn says:

    Beth — great thoughts with an additional note. As a professional organizer (and non-profit consultant) I have followed some Konmari concepts my whole life, but also believe in personal flexibility. What about creating a framed collage with your badges, which I’ve actually been thinking about doing. There’s a photo of a framed t-shirt collage on my website — and some other DIY ideas as well

  10. Aisha says:

    Good post. My theme for this year is “Connecting One to One”. So I guess I should take a peak at my Linkedin list and trim it down a bit so I can connect a bit better. A consultant friend of mine Kevin Monroe is the master of using Linkedin. He actually connects with people who have a shared interest.

    Did you know Kondo is coming out with a workbook?

  11. Greta says:

    I just finished a small quilt for my daughter using her college t-shirts…she loves it & that’s a box of t-shirts gone from the basement. I also keep a 3-ring binder with plastic inserts in it to keep memorabilia that I don’t want to toss (niece’s wedding invites, postcards from a trip, grandma’s funeral flyer, etc.). Keeps them organized, sort of, and prevents those awful piles of stuff from building up. They bring me joy, even though it’s all history.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Very well stated. Thanks. Will have to send to my son who is new to this.

  13. Beth Kanter says:

    Aisha,

    I have not heard if Kondo’s book is coming out as a workbook, although I’ve seen journals based on it. Did you read the second one recently published?

    Thanks for the tip about Kevin Monroe – does he have a blog?

  14. Beth Kanter says:

    Robyn: I like the idea of creating a framed collage with the badges, but I have so many!!

  15. Robyn says:

    Beth: My latest collage actually involved taking photos and then creating a piece on photoshop, which my daughter is teaching me… Even if you used the real badges, I bet you could weed some out and then with overlapping you could probably put 100 in a 30×40 frame. Do you have like 500 you want to keep?

  16. Beth says:

    Robyn – great suggestion! Thank you

  17. Ben Steward says:

    A well written post. As a professional networker you raise some very good points not just in your article but also in the responses that you give. Thank you for this post it will be a point of reference for moving forward

  18. Hi Beth. Prompted by your post I’ve been through my LinkedIn connections – quite simply, what an amazing bunch of people I’ve met over the years. I’ve been through and unlinked from anyone I don’t remember meeting and/ or wouldn’t be willing to phone up and ask for advice or some other sort of help. My goal from here is to have a cup of tea every fortnight with someone in my network. Really enjoying reading your work on taking care of oneself. Best, Stephen

  19. Beth says:

    Stephen,

    Wow, I’m impressed! Doesn’t feel great to have a tidy network? I wish there was a way we could have cup a tea, alas – it has to be virtual tea

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