Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who are the most valuable people in your network?

Books like Linked and The Tipping Point explore how people are connected.  Places like LinkedIn and Facebook give us practical insight in the realities of our connections.

The Most Valuable People in Your Network has an interesting thought.  The people who can give you the best ideas, or access to new products, or help in some other way often are those who are not connected:

Age-old wisdom suggests it is not what but whom you know that matters. Over decades this truism has been supported by a great deal of research on networks. Work since the 1970s shows that people who maintain certain kinds of networks do better: They are promoted more rapidly than their peers, make more money, are more likely to find a job if they lose their own, and are more likely to be considered high performers.

But the secret to these networks has never been their size. Simply following the advice of self-help books and building mammoth Rolodexes or Facebook accounts actually tends to hurt performance as well as have a negative effect on health and well-being at work. Rather, the people who do better tend to have more ties to people who themselves are not connected. People with ties to the less-connected are more likely to hear about ideas that haven't gotten exposure elsewhere, and are able to piece together opportunities in ways that less-effectively-networked colleagues cannot.

A month or so ago I passed 500 connections on LinkedIn.  The article suggests that the people who might be able to provide the most help are those who have few connections.  Interesting idea.

Hat tip: Whitney Johnson.

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