Learn more about Keith's new book or buy it now.
My new book -- Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One
Relationship at a Time -- was recently released by Currency/Doubleday. In Never Eat Alone, I expose many secrets behind the success of so many accomplished people. Most of these secrets involve the power of relationships and how we all can succeed best in business and in life by contributing to the success of others. The mindset and techniques that have helped me meet and connect with so many amazing people, all of which have meant everything to my professional success and personal joy, are distilled into 31 simple and fun chapters that are easy to read and to follow.
The following excerpt is from Never Eat Alone's Chapter 15: "Connecting with Connectors." In this chapter, I discuss super-connectors. You know who I'm talking about. They're the people who make possible "the strength of weak ties," they know and connect people from all walks of life, and they're essential to growing your network -- whatever your mission in life. I even give a quick rundown of seven professions in which you'll find natural super-connectors. Learn the unique talents of each and how best to get on their radar screens, and you just might become a super-connector in your own right!
It has become part of our accepted wisdom that six degrees is all that separates us from anyone else in the world. How can that be? Because some of those degrees (people) know many, many more people than the rest of us.
Call them super-connectors. We all know at least one person like this individual, who seems to know everybody and who everybody seems to know. You'll find a disproportionate amount of super-connectors as headhunters, lobbyists, fundraisers, politicians, journalists, and public relations specialists, because such positions require these folks' innate abilities. I am going to argue that such people should be the cornerstones to any flourishing network.
What Michael Jordan was to the basketball court, or Tiger Woods is to golf, these people can be to your network. So who are they, really, and how can you get them to become prized members of your circle of associates and friends?
In his bestselling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell cites a classic 1974 study by sociologist Mark Granovetter that surveyed how a group of men in Newton, Massachusetts, found their current job. The study, appropriately titled "Getting a Job," has become a seminal work in its field, and its findings have been confirmed over and over again.
Granovetter discovered that 56 percent of those surveyed found their current job through a personal connection. Only 19 percent used what we consider traditional job-searching routes, like newspaper job listings and executive recruiters. Roughly 10 percent applied directly to an employer and obtained the job.
My point? Personal contacts are the key to opening doors -- not such a revolutionary idea.What is surprising, however, is that of those personal connections that reaped dividends for those in the study, only 17 percent saw their personal contact often -- as much as they would if they were good friends -- and 55 percent saw their contact only occasionally.And get this, 28 percent barely met with their contact at all.
In other words, it's not necessarily strong contacts, like family and close friends, that prove the most powerful; to the contrary, often the most important people in our network are those who are acquaintances.
As a result of the study, Granovetter immortalized the phrase "the strength of weak ties" by showing persuasively that when it comes to finding out about new jobs -- or, for that matter, new information or new ideas -- "weak ties" are generally more important than those you consider strong.Why is that? Think about it.
Many of your closest friends and contacts go to the same parties, generally do the same work, and exist in roughly the same world as you do. That's why they seldom know information that you don't already know.
Your weak ties, on the other hand, generally occupy a very different
world than you do. They're hanging out with different people, often in different worlds, with access to a whole inventory of knowledge and information unavailable to you and your close friends.
Mom was wrong—it does pay to talk to strangers. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote, "Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you are."
Throughout this book, I try to emphasize that what's most important is developing deep and trusting relationships, not superficial contacts. Despite Granovetter's research, I believe friendships are the foundation for a truly powerful network. For most of us, cultivating a lengthy list of mere acquaintances on top of the effort devoted to your circle of friends is just too draining. The thought of being obligated to another hundred or so people
-- sending birthday cards, dinner invites, and all that stuff that we do for those close to us—seems outlandishly taxing.
Only, for some, it's not. These people are super-connectors. People like me who maintain contact with thousands of people. The key, however, is not only that we know thousands of people but that we know thousands of people in many different worlds, and we know them well enough to give them a call. Once you
become friendly with a super-connector, you're only two degrees away from the thousands of different people we know.
A social psychologist by the name of Dr. Stanley Milgram proved this idea in a 1967 study.He ran an experiment that set out to show that our big, impersonal world is actually quite small and friendly.
It was Milgram's experiment that created the notion of "six degrees of separation." In the experiment, he sent a package to a few hundred randomly selected people in Nebraska with the instructions that they forward the package to an anonymous stockbroker in Boston whom they did not know. Each person
could send the packet only to someone whom they knew on a firstname basis, and who they thought was more likely to know the stockbroker than they were themselves. About a third of the letters reached their destination, after an average of only six mailings.
What was surprising was that when all those chains of people were analyzed, Milgram found that a majority of the letters passed through the hands of the name three Nebraskans. The finding drives home the point that if you want access to the social power of acquaintances, it helps to know a few super-connectors.
Connectors can be found in every imaginable profession, but I'm going to focus on seven professions where they most commonly congregate. Each of these kinds of connectors provides me with a link to an entire world of people, ideas, and information that, in a very significant way, has made my own life a little more fun, helped my career along, or made the businesses I worked for
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