Your network is bigger than you think


This post is by Reid Hoffman from Reid Hoffman


Your network is bigger than you think

Interconnectedness feels good emotionally, but professionally it is limiting because the same information recycles through your local network of like-minded friends. If a close friend or ally knows about a job opportunity, you probably already do too. That’s why the breadth and reach of your network is valuable.

When thinking about how to expand your connections, remember the times you’ve met someone and discovered you know people in common. The clerk at the local hardware store once hiked through Yosemite with your brother-in-law. Your new girlfriend went to grad school with your boss’s wife. A new client’s kid goes to the same school as yours. “It’s a small world,” we say after such realizations.

But is the world actually that small?

In 1967, Psychologist Stanley Milgram and his student Jeffrey Travers conducted a famous study in which they asked a couple hundred people in Nebraska to mail a letter to someone they knew personally who might in turn know a target stockbroker in Massachusetts. On average, it took six different stops before it showed up at the stockbroker’s home or office in Massachusetts. It’s this study that birthed the six degrees of separation theory, the idea that every human being on the planet is connected to every other via no more than about six intermediary acquaintances. Subsequent studies in the digital age have borne out Milgram’s finding, also landing on the figure of six degrees.

The practical implications for the startup of you are significant. Suppose you want to become (Read more...)