What is the value of your LinkedIn connections?

The easy answer is you don’t know until you need them. And all of us will need them one day – whether for a new job or client or some advice on a new topic or for help in a new place. I believe that our LinkedIn business network is one of our most valuable personal assets.
To me the better question is how do you decide to LinkIn and how do you decide to LinkOut?
When I send or when someone sends me a connection request, I state the value proposition from the perspective of the things we have in common and the opportunity to potentially help each other be more successful. For many of my invitations, “in common” means Human Resources or Technology and from a few to 100’s of smart people on LinkedIn.
Most of the invites I receive do not have any text or they simply say please LinkIn with me. I would prefer that people entice me to connect with their brilliance and communication abilities. I usually look at the person’s title and profile to see what and how we have in common and if I feel we can help each other.
When I accept or have an invite accepted by someone, I always message them to ask for a 20 minute phone call to have an Intro conversation.
Is that weird?
To me the weird part is accepting a connection and then never, ever following up with anything more. Why connect if you do not want to CONNECT? Or what is the value of someone connecting with you if you have never spoken or communicated in anyway? Why would they refer you to someone else? I think of these connections as “fake 1st connections”.
One argument to just connect with everyone is that it expands your network of 2nd connections. 
NolanBranding.com has this perspective - LinkedIn “connections” are not akin to Facebook “friends.” Do not think that accepting a connection request means you have a personal connection with the individual; in fact, you may not even really know him/her. Instead, accepting a connection request means, “Thank you for access to your network, and if my network can be of assistance to you, I am happy to reciprocate.”
The problem is that you can not message with second connections and why would your “fake 1st connection” ever refer you? And if they would then of what value is that referral? Things that make me go “hmmmmm”.

And how about this one? I have a connection for many years, albeit from a networking group. We have met at meeting multiple times and spoken on the phone a few times. About 2 years ago, she asked me to recommend her to the Board of a local organization (which I did and she won the seat). I recently asked her to refer me to a first connection of hers. As I always do, I said that being LinkedIn she may not know the person so it is perfectly acceptable to say no.
Her reply – “You can certainly reference me in your out reach but the firm generally prefers to steer clear of personal introductions unless we know there is a need.”
My translation of this is that she does not give referrals unless her company makes money. 
Now do I LinkOut with her?
What do you think? Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

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