Adam's Linkedin Photo
I met Adam over lunch years ago at the height of the dotcom boom. My first impression was that I was talking not just to a really smart (Cal Tech educated) guy but incredibly insightful too. He has a unique ability to extract the essence of a topic, distill it down to the essentials and easily create a system or set of rules to apply it or use it.
The same is true for his take on networking. I have advised clients for years to grow the biggest networks they can and forget about the "trust" slogan Linkedin uses. If you don't then when you need to extend your reach to access help then you end up paying Linkedin to reach out to strangers.
The other two points he made about how to use a network: often and with those worth working with are the keys to making all your contacts and time spent count. Too often people don't network until they need something. They never think that possibly giving in advance might be a good thing to do for the purpose of reciprocation. But, giving to the right connections matters. As Adam says, we must keep our network cleaned up and weeded out of less supportive connections.
The Basics of Power Networking
By Adam Rifkin
Two years ago Fortune magazine identified me as the best networker on LinkedIn; this in turn led to some wonderful stories in Adam Grant's excellent book, GIVE AND TAKE.
Since then, every day people ask me about things I’ve learned about networking on Twitter, PandaWhale, and in real life.
I feel fortunate to have learned networking from many excellent teachers, and the greatest of these teachers was actually the Internet itself. The top three lessons of Internet computer networking serve as valuable lessons for human networking, too:
1. Networks add value by getting biggerIt seems uncontroversial now, but that’s because our thinking has been so inflected by many years of access to a public, open, scalable Internet. Back in the day, many computer scientists argued that networks would maximize their value by being made out of nodes that were more tightly controlled by a single owner. Similarly, until recently, human networks were small, tightly connected, and controlled by gatekeepers such as elite colleges, social clubs, and prestigious professional organizations. The Web has been a great example of how technology — in the form of apps such as LinkedIn — can help foster more connections than can be maintained in real life.
TIP: Since networks add value by getting bigger, use every day as an opportunity to grow the quality of your connections. I am often asked how I created my network, especially given that I am naturally introverted. It turns out that building a network is not hard; with time and patience, you can do it, too. The key is to tend to your network a little bit at a time, over the course of many years.
A good rule of thumb is to connect with at least 1 and up to 3 people every day. More than 3 means you're not connecting deeply enough.
Each interaction need not take long; you can get started with just a single five minute favor each day. It's not about time; it's about authenticity. The main way to deepen a connection is through genuine interactions that share knowledge and stories and emotions. 2. Networks add value by being used more
There are many obvious downsides of heavy network usage: slowness, conflicts, lack of prioritization, lossiness, and low signal to noise ratio immediately come to mind. But the corresponding upsides include plenitude, ubiquity, rapid growth, and habituation. They don’t call them network effects for nothing! The same lessons apply to human networks: the more we reach out to our acquaintances, the more value we create not just for ourselves but for all of them, too.
TIP: It is important to connect EVERY day. Let's repeat that: EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some connections can be new (and, ideally, with a warm introduction from a mutual connection). Some connections should be re-connections with "dormant ties" that deepen a connection already made.
Relationships are progressions and re-connections are the fuel for that progress. Deepening 1-3 connections every single day makes you healthier, happier, and it's good for your career.
3. Networks add value by being fault tolerantIn many ways the Internet is the very worst designed network of all time (think about how often things fail when you're surfing The Web!) but paradoxically that is also its greatest strength. Every part of it was designed to fail early, often, and hard without impacting any other part too negatively. On the human level, I have learned that communities must also be designed to deal with messiness, loss, and failure. Unlike the architecture of the Internet, we also have the ability to learn and grow from the error conditions of life -- which ultimately makes the whole network stronger if we all share what we’ve learned.TIP: Tend to your network like a garden, a little every day, by weakening connections. Weed your garden: If someone demonstrates s/he is not worth growing a connection with, do not invest more time with that person. Instead, invest that time in someone who IS worth knowing better. Over time, your network will dynamically reflect your efforts, and be wonderful and helpful not just to you, but to your connections, too. We distill these lessons into 3 rules of thumb:
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