054 — Friend of a Friend with David Burkus

Friend of a Friend with David Burkus

“You don’t have a network. We all exist inside of one network—7.4 billion people strong and counting. The game is not about collecting connections, the game is about figuring out your network to figure out how you can provide value for them and draw that value out.”

For many people, the word “networking” sends chills down their spines. Luckily, David Burkus’ Friend of a Friend is not a networking advice book—instead, it examines the complexity of the networks that already exist in the world, the social science that underpins them, and how to better understand them. We were delighted to host Burkus on the podcast for a lively discussion about how networks work—how they skew our perception of the world, how we can seek out alternative perspectives, and how we can leverage social capital to improve our circumstances.

In this discussion, we cover:

  • How your network affects your social capital (your network is your net worth—trite, but true), and why you should stop doing the standard “pushing your business cards out at social events” while feeling sleazy and inauthentic, and instead gain a greater understanding of how networks work.
  • Why your mission should not be to “build” your network, because you don’t have a unique network—instead the game should be to better understand the global network of 7 billion + people that you are already a part of.
  • Weak and dormant ties: the benefits of connecting with people who are several degrees of connection removed from us, as well as reconnecting with people we haven’t spoken with in awhile. Your close ties likely all know each other—however your weak and dormant ties have different close circles, and are likely to have access to new information.
  • New ideas are combinations of old ideas, and often the best ideas are the most novel combinations—so it makes sense that the strongest ideas will come from people who have different experiences and networks.
  • Why you should stop asking people what they do, and start asking deeper questions about what is exciting or interesting to them, in order to create multiplex ties—relationships with individuals in more than one context.

Burkus kindly provided a free audio course for listeners of the 21st Century Workplace that covers How To Give and Get The Introductions That Will Transform Your Life and Your Career.

Actionable Quote: “We know that ideas are combinations of preexisting ideas. They are more creative when they are more novel combinations. So it makes sense that ideas that come from two different clusters or communities are going to create more novel combinations.”


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