I am a “podcast-aholic,” with multiple episodes constantly at the ready. Hearing interviews with authors of new books are one of my favorite ways to learn something new. I recently honed in on an interview with David Burkus about his new book, “Friend of a Friend: The Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Career.” His TEDx talk and book highlights have given me pause about how I “network” with my connections.
Based upon case studies and scientific research, Burkus debunks a lot of the myths about networking and illustrates key mindset shifts to see networking in a new way. Here are some new perspectives I am pondering:
- Think of your network as something you exist in, not something you do.
- Explore the edges of your hidden or neglected network — called “dormant ties” — and get to know people in multifaceted ways by being genuinely curious about their lives rather than by pursuing purely instrumental, career-related questions. Use a system to keep track of those relationships.
- Our “dormant ties” are the most effective for giving advice, making referrals, and providing us with a different perspective.
- “It should be your goal not to meet the most people as possible, but to understand who else is connected to whom and what the rest of the network looks like.” – David Burkus
- Research suggests you have better odds of getting a job through a loose acquaintance (a “dormant tie”) than a close friend.
- Never ask the question, “How can I help you?” Figure out how you can help someone else, then help them.
- Always think, “who does this person need to meet?” Then, make the connections.
Networking seems to be an insincere way to manipulate relationships for personal gain. And yet there is a significant body of research that demonstrates that being connected to a strong network provides major advantages — shots at key career opportunities, access to varied skills and perspectives, and the ability to learn new information.
Fostering those authentic connections and seeking out diverse new voices is vitally important for your professional success. Pick up the book, listen to Burkus’ TEDx talk, or any of the podcast interviews he has done discussing his book. I believe his practical tactics around the whys and hows of networking are well worth your time.
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