How To Hack Networking | David Burkus | TEDxUniversityofNevada

How To Hack Networking | David Burkus | TEDxUniversityofNevada


Translator: Madison Shirley
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven So, we all have that person in our lives
who seems to be connected to everyone. You know, that person
with the perfect elevator pitch, that person who knows how to work a room, that person who keeps winning friends
and influencing people, that person who never eats alone, that person who is
the quintessential networker. Don’t you just hate them? (Laughter) I mean, you don’t hate them outright, but you probably hate that somehow
networking and making connections, it seems so easy to them,
and every time you try, you just feel like that sleazy weirdo pushing business cards
in everyone’s hand. Or you make a conscious effort
to go to that networking event, and then you end up standing
in the corner of the room next to someone you already knew, trying to figure out how long
you have to stay and how to leave without being noticed. I’m right there with you, most of us are. And we know that networking
and professional connections are hugely important
to our careers and our lives. In one study, executives who were taught to see
what sociologists call “social capital” – this is the value in an existing network and the potential value
in new network connections – the executives who were trained
to see social capital were more likely to get promotions,
more likely to get raises, they had more fulfilling careers overall, and we know that companies whose employees
are rich in social capital dramatically outperform their competitors. But, working makes us feel awkward. In one study, participants were asked about a time
where they had to reach out and make a new professional connection, and the participants who had to do that were more likely to experience
subconscious thoughts of getting clean. So, to translate,
networking makes us feel dirty. (Laughter) So, how do we reconcile these two ideas? We know we need a robust network, but we know we feel really awkward
every time we try. Well, the good news
is that the same studies that demonstrate the power
of a social network also offer a totally different
and refreshing way to look at it. In fact, they suggest that we need
to redefine networking. Networking’s not really something you do. A network’s not something you have,
it’s not about meeting strangers. In fact, the best definition is probably
that it’s about understanding the network that’s already around you
and acting accordingly. I mean, I like to think of it
as it’s about knowing who’s a friend, and who’s a friend of a friend. And when you adopt that mentality,
and you look at the research, you’re left with three implications
that almost anyone can do, hopefully without feeling awkward. The first is that contrary
to popular belief, some of the biggest wins, the low-hanging fruit
in networking, if you will, comes not from meeting total strangers, but actually from reaching out
to old friends. Sociologists call these
weak ties, or dormant ties. Dormant ties are those friends
that you used to be close with, but for whatever reason,
you don’t talk to as much anymore. And because those people
are in different social circles now, or different industries,
sometimes different geographies, they provide the same new information
and new opportunities than total strangers would, but it’s easier to build rapport
with them because they’re … Well, they’re not strangers; they’re literally your friends. You just haven’t talked
to them in a while. One of my favorite examples
of dormant ties unlocking a powerful connection is the story of Dana White
and Lorenzo Fertitta. You might recognize those names. Those are two of the three former owners
of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which was just sold
for four billion dollars. I’m paying attention. The story goes that Dana and Lorenzo
were high school acquaintances. They went to high school together
until Dana got kicked out, which is the ultimate way
to become a dormant tie, and about ten years later, the two reconnected
at a high school friend’s wedding. They found out that they shared
a mutual love of prize fighting. Dana was managing
a few early UFC fighters. Lorenzo was working
in his family’s casino business, serving on the boxing commission. They reconnected
over the love of prize fighting, and they did what most of us do
when we meet an old friend. We go, “Well, that was great,
we should do it again sometime soon.” But unlike us, they actually did. (Laughter) A couple weeks later, Dana found out that the original owners
of the UFC were losing money and were looking
to get rid of the franchise. So, he calls his new old friend,
Lorenzo, and he says, “Hey, I think the UFC is for sale,
and I think you should buy it.” And they do, and they give Dana
ten percent, which is awesome. The combination of Dana’s
knowledge of the sport, Lorenzo’s connections
with the athletic commission, makes for a powerful connection
that would have never happened had two friends not reconnected
at a high school wedding. Now I know what you’re thinking,
if your take away is, “Go to more high school
weddings and reunions,” that doesn’t solve
the awkwardness problem. So try this. Make a list of four or five people
you haven’t talked to in a while. Scroll all the way down to the bottom
of your friend list on Facebook and reach back out to those people. You don’t have to have an agenda,
in fact, that’s what makes it awkward. Just reach out and see
where the conversation goes. You’d be amazed. But there are times where you have to
step outside of your circle, and when you do, the best way to do that
is actually to go through your circle. When you have to meet new connections, the best way to do it
is through friends of friends. Maybe you’ve heard the term
“six degrees of separation,” or maybe you’ve played the game
“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The truth is, in study after study,
almost the entire world really is connected
by five or six introductions. And the majority
of your professional world is probably connected by one or two. So, when you need to meet a new person,
start asking current friends, “Who do you know in ‘blank’?” With ‘blank’ being whatever industry
or region or sector that you’re trying to meet new people in,
and then ask for the introduction. Go through the friend of a friend. You would be amazed
at the breadth of the network, just one degree
of separation out from you. That breadth certainly surprised
Michelle Mckenna-Doyle when she was looking for a new job. Michelle grew up in the south,
all of her brothers played football, they were a football family. Her father believed that one day,
one of his kids would make it in the NFL. And Michelle took a different path,
she didn’t play football, she studied accounting. She actually transitioned
mid-career to IT. Eventually, she became
the chief information officer of companies like Walt Disney World
and Universal Studios. And one day she found herself
on the NFL website – she was checking
her fantasy football league – she scrolls down,
notices in the career tab that there’s a job
that sounds an awful lot like her, but it wasn’t listed as CIO
and she had no connections to the NFL. So she started feeling out
her network through friends. She found a dormant tie, an old colleague
who worked with her at a prior company and now worked
at an executive search firm. But that firm wasn’t handling the search,
but he knew who was. So he makes the introduction. So, if you’re keeping track, we’ve got one weak tie
and one introduction, and now Michelle is interviewing
in front of the executives at the NFL. She’s convincing them
that they need a CIO, and she’s convincing them
that it needs to be her. She gets the offer, she accepts the job,
and on the day she starts, she becomes the highest level
female executive in the NFL ever, up to that point. And her father finally gets to see
one of his kids make it in the NFL. (Laughter) There are those times
where you meet random strangers, and when you do, the research suggests that maybe
you should try a little different tactic than that question we all love: “So, what do you do?” Instead, ask about hobbies, ask about passions, find shared non-work interests. The research suggests that the more and more diverse ways
that we connect with another person, the deeper the relationship
that we build faster. It’s not really a work-friends
versus real-friends thing, we’re all just friends,
so find a non-work reason to connect. One of my favorite examples of this
is a friend and fellow writer, John Levy, and John is known for throwing
some of the most amazing dinner parties with some of the world’s
most influential people. The reason they’re so effective
is that when guests arrive, John asks them to refrain from saying
their name and occupation, pairs two people together,
and then he assigns them tasks. And so now you have two strangers
that can’t use their usual script and just learned they have to cook
their own dinner, (Laughter) and they have to find non-work reasons
to get to know each other. As a result, when the dinner’s over, they leave better connected
to each other and to their host. And what started as a simple dinner
among a few strangers has compounded over the years,
to where John is entertaining best-selling authors,
award-winning musicians, Nobel Prize Laureates,
one time even royalty. And to say that this has had
a positive effect on John’s career is like the understatement of the day. But it’s also provided some amazing
opportunities for adventure and for deep, close relationships. Okay, I know what you might be thinking. “I don’t know how to host
a dinner party for royalty.” I don’t either, and that high school weddings thing
still makes me feel awkward. I’ve skipped every one
of my high school reunions. But when we look at the research
and when we redefine networking, these three ideas are something
that we can make our own without feeling all that awkward. Reconnect with our old friends,
turn work friends into real friends, and connect through friends of friends. But there’s a deeper reason for taking
a science approach to networking, and that’s that your network
has a massive effect on you. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “Show me your friends,
and I’ll show you your future?” You probably haven’t heard it
since you were a teenager, because we usually tell it to teenagers
to get them to stop hanging out with that scruffy kid
from down the street. (Laughter) But the truth is, your friends affect you
more than you know, and so do their friends. About ten years ago, two researchers,
Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, conducted one of the largest
social network studies ever. They used health data
from the Framingham heart study, which was the largest
and longest-running health study ever, and they found, well, they found
that your friends make you fat. (Laughter) They found out
that if you have obese friends, you are more likely yourself to be obese. So your friends make you fat,
but so do their friends, and so do their friends’ friends. They found that your friend
of a friend of a friend, even if you’ve never met them, has a statistically significant
influence on your weight. And the truth is, we don’t know why. We don’t know why it’s so strong,
three degrees of influence out, but that hasn’t stopped Christakis
and Fowler from looking, conducted similar studies,
one of smoking rates, and found the same level of influence
three degrees of separation out. And then, the most fascinating study
was of happiness. The two found out
that your friends make you happy. I mean, it’s no surprise, right? If you have a bunch of friends
who are happy with their life, you’re more likely to be happy with yours. But so do their friends,
and again, so do their friends’ friends. If your friend of a friend
of a friend is happy with her life, then you have a six percent greater
likelihood of being happy with yours. All right, six percent, big deal, right? But consider, that if I gave you
a $10,000 raise, that would only increase
your happiness two percent. So your friend of a friend of a friend,
even if you’ve never met, has a greater influence on your life
happiness than your salary. That is perhaps why this is so important. That’s why we need
this approach to networking. That’s why we need to redefine it, not as meeting total strangers
at cocktail parties, but as knowing who’s a friend
and who’s a friend of a friend. Because it’s about more
than just getting promoted more. It’s about more
than just making more money. It’s about how happy you are
with your life. I mean, it really is, “Show me your friends,
and I’ll show you your future,” but it’s also, “Show me your friend of a friend,
and I’ll show you your future.” Thank you all so much for having me. (Applause)

46 thoughts on “How To Hack Networking | David Burkus | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  1. Your true friends will help you lose weight and eat healthier.and try not to hurt your feelings as impossible as it seems.

  2. I love when David Burkus does something on networking.  I have learned a lot from him on this subject.  I signed up for one of his online summits on networking about a year ago and the speakers were excellent.  This is the first time I have ever seen him speak at a public event and he is also an excellent speaker.

  3. My best friends are my computers. They are not fatty. Their friends are not fatty either. Then why am I fatty? Yeah, my computers make me happy. I'll like to gain computers and of course some online courses and documentation rather than gaining money.

  4. I have made millions networking in the real business world. It's funny how much harder it has been to grow a social media audience! I do better in live events. @DavidOldenburg1 on IG and FB …I am in the real estate flipping, wholesaling, and marketing niche.

  5. Wow, amazing… I especially like how a friend of a friend has more influence on my happiness that money. I got happy friends, but I will be on the lookout for more happy friends.

  6. Thank you for this interesting & inspiring talk, I can't help but share those points:

    1. Reconnect with old friends – renew dormant ties: new old connections.
    2. Turn work friends into real friends
    3. Connect through friends of friends.

    The Catchphrase : Show me your friend of a friend, & I'll show you your future.

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