What is the #1 best predictor of career success? According to Ronald Burt, one of the world’s top network scientists, it’s an open network. Open networks are when individuals are connected to different clusters of people who don’t know each other to any meaningful extent. This stands in contrast to closed networks, which are the opposite. If you think you need to work on opening your network more, here are three key steps you can take to expand.
Step outside your comfort zone
Most people live their lives in closed networks. This is because it’s comfortable and safe. We like to bond over our shared love of Taco Tuesdays and our shared annoyance at the workplace “Negative Nancy”. When we build a diverse network, we open ourselves to new perspectives. This encourages information flow and makes us more creative and innovative, and we see unique connections that others can’t.
Focus on weak ties
The most effective executives form open networks by taking advantage of “weak ties.” Weak ties form bridges between diverse groups of people and, in doing so, facilitate critical introductions between diverse circles of networks. That’s why it’s not surprising that most job opportunities occur via second- or higher-degree relationships.
Focus on quality not quantity
We only have so many hours in our days. It’s impossible to maintain strong relationships with thousands of people. The famous "Dunbar Number" states that a person can only actively maintain approximately 150 connections. Focus on creating high quality relationships. If you’re well in tune with your network, you’ll be more effective at identifying synergies. You’ll be able to spot win/win situations and form bridges between diverse stakeholders.
Being a human bridge is powerful. Like a physical bridge, you need to build a strong foundation that will enable you to support different moving parts. If you’re successful, you’ll open up new avenues for growth that will enable you to thrive.
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner