525: How to Strengthen Your Network, with Marissa King

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Marissa King: Social Chemistry

Marissa King is professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, where she developed and teaches a popular course entitled Managing Strategic Networks. Over the past fifteen years, she has studied how people’s social networks evolve, what they look like, and why that’s significant.

Her most recent line of research analyzes the individual and group-level behaviors that are necessary for large-scale organizational change. She is the author of Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection*.

In this conversation, Marissa and I explore the three major categories of personal networks — along with the strengths and challenges of each one. We make the invitation to strengthen your existing network instead of trying to further expand it. Plus, Marissa highlights several practical tips to more fully leverage the power of your own network.

Key Points

There are three types of networks:

  1. Expansionists have extraordinarily large networks and tend to be well known. They tend to be inspiring in both social and professional settings.
  2. Brokers generate value by bringing together from different social spaces. Their networks have large information benefits and are innovative. They are adaptive and have better work-life balance.
  3. Conveners build dense networks where all theirs friends are also friends. They enjoy deep trust and reputation benefits. Conveners tend to be great listeners.
  • Maintaining great relationships with your existing network is often more productive than attempting to grow entirely new relationships.
  • Those with very close relationships have been able to weather the storm of the pandemic with little impact on loneliness.
  • We tend to underestimate both the strength of our networks and the willingness of others to help us.
  • A starting point to improve the strength of your exiting network is either to be generous to someone by helping them in some way or to ask for support with something that might be helpful to us.

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