Keep, Delete or Re-Connect on LinkedIn

What constitutes a valuable LinkedIn connection?

As you compile your holiday greeting card mailing list, you may see a name or two that you’re having difficulty placing. Do you recall the last time you spoke or emailed with her?

If you connected with her on LinkedIn a while ago, take a moment to consider your relationship with that individual more closely, and then look at others in your network as well.

Define a criteria to evaluate which LinkedIn connections are worth keeping, which contacts are subject to deletion and which names merit an impromptu note to re-connect. (See below for suggested texts.)

I joined LinkedIn in 2004 and over the years have assembled many contacts, once totaling more than 3,300. Not surprisingly, the connection request was the start and end of the online conversation in hundreds of cases.

Here’s the question: If that connection is not actively engaging on LinkedIn (with me or anyone else), then what is the individual doing there and how valuable is that relationship?

Research shows that only 9% of your connections will see what you post on LinkedIn, which may be why I saw nothing from these contacts. (In fact, some did not even display the activity section on their profile!) Still, in all this time, something they posted or published should have caught my attention.

As you know, the telephone works both ways; you make calls and you receive them.

I might not have followed up with you, but you did not follow up with me, either.

I say ENOUGH. It’s time to take action and clear away the deadwood so I can see the flowers (relationships) that really matter to me.


As the year ends, I’m going through my 2,000-plus LinkedIn contacts and trimming the list.

If I cannot remember the last time I communicated with that person or how we know each other, I check Contact info on that profile to see when we first connected. If that’s more than two years ago, I remove the connection. (In one case, we connected in 2009 with no subsequent activity.)

Admit it; we both blew the opportunity to become better acquainted. Time to move on.

How to Remove Connections in Stealth Mode
If you wish to undertake a similar pruning, here’s how to surreptitiously conduct this clearing out process.

  1. Under the Me menu at the top of your profile, click on Settings & Privacy
  2. Scroll down to How others see your LinkedIn activity and Profile viewing options. It probably says Full profile. Click on Private mode so you become Anonymous LinkedIn Member. This way, when you view someone’s profile to evaluate the relationship, the person will not know you were looking at their profile. (There ARE people who regularly track those who view their LinkedIn profile and then contact the lookie-loos, in a polite way, that nonetheless has the scent of stalking.)
  3. Click on My Network at the top of your profile; in the left column, click on Connections.

Now you are ready to delete connections, either one-by-one or by sorting them into categories.

How to delete connections singly, from the list
To the right of each name are the Message button and three dots. Click the dots to show Remove connection and click again. Poof! The contact is gone.

How to sort contacts in order to delete by category
If you find it too tedious or overwhelming to review your many connections on a one-by-one basis, you can sort them into groups. Click on Search with filters on the right side of the Connections box and click on All Filters at the top.

This reveals categories, such as Locations, Current Companies and Industries, which narrows the number of connections with that criteria and make the review process more manageable.

For example, now that you have your dream job, perhaps you no longer need to keep in touch with many recruiters. Enter Staffing and Recruiting in the Industries box. Click the Apply button to filter, thereby displaying a group of, say, 23 names.

Now, use your mouse to right click on the names of all the profiles you wish to view, so each one appears as a separate tab. After you peruse an individual profile, you may opt to disconnect. Click on the More… box and bring the cursor down to the seventh position: Remove Connection. Click that spot and the person is removed.

Note: LinkedIn will NOT notify the person that you removed the connection.

This KEEP, DELETE or RE-CONNECT process is a rather satisfying activity. You may be prompted to re-connect with some people with whom you had lost touch. You may even find it healing to know that by deleting a connection, you have severed an unhappy tie to the past.

After you finish with the connections in that first category, consider selecting another industry, location or current company and repeat the process.

When you end a session of deleting a number of connections, remember to go back to the Me menu and the Settings & Privacy page. Scroll down to How others see your LinkedIn activity and Profile viewing options. Click on Your name and headline, which will restore your page to Full profile.

Hurray! Now, your LinkedIn connections are the people you want to stay in touch with.

This Month’s Tip

It’s never too late to re-start the conversation. Use these subject line prompts, or your own variation, making sure the question requires a response, not a yes/no answer:

  1. Your name came up in conversation with ____ (Put the name in the body of the email, so the reader will open the note.) What are you working on now?
  2. This article/podcast reminded me of our conversation about ____ (link). What do you think?
  3. Remember this email? Please help me recall what happened next.
  4. Your business card re-surfaced. What’s new?
  5. Your name came to mind in a review of contacts. Let’s meet for coffee and catch up.
  6. According to LinkedIn, you are now (at a new company) (in a new role). Congratulations! When shall we celebrate?


These many dormant connections might be blocking your view of individuals who truly meant something to you in the past year. When you send a holiday greeting or e-card to the clients, referral sources and contacts who are top of mind, you acknowledge the strength of that relationship. Periodically reviewing the names of your contacts will remind you of why you keep in touch with specific individuals and how you might be a resource to them.

If you need assistance performing this process of sorting, keeping, deleting and re-connecting, please let me know how I can assist you. Contact me at , set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s use the garden shears to trim away those inactive contacts and allow your genuine connections to flower.

See also: Your Gold Mine of 5,000 Contacts.

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Image credit: Lafayette Library (CA)