I used to be a fan of the Ecademy networking service. It provided an online service to find and meet people as well as local groups for offline meetings. But after my local offline group (which I helped organise) fizzled out, I did lose interest but kept a free membership and had occasional interesting online exchanges.

Recently I have begun to receive more and more “Ecademy Contact Request” messages which start “person’s name Was sending invitations to join their network on Ecademy, discovered you were already here and requests that you add them as a contact.”.

I do not know the person who is contacting me and the mail gives me no incentive as to why I might want to meet them. Why would I bother to add them as a contact. Yes, it adds to my number of contacts which is prominently displayed on the site, but if I want to find new contacts, it is much better to search for people with relevant interests or skills, using a keyword search (which is a good feature of Ecademy).

Just trying to build up a large number of contacts, followers, connections is the wrong way to do networking (except maybe for a few celebrities). The contacts will mean nothing unless you have something of value or interest to say to them.

For the vast majority, we need to build up the value of our posts, tweets, mails, blogs and other communications. Once we have that, we can, of course, try shameless publicity to become known to a much wider audience. But there needs to be the hook so that the messages are not ignored just as I ignore my “Ecademy Contact Requests”