There’s an interesting article in Harvard Business Review called “How to Build Your Network” by Brian Uzzi and Sharon Dunlap.
They explain one of the reasons Paul Revere was so successful in his fateful ride was because he was a “superconnector”: someone who bridged different cliques in a larger social network.
One of the problems most of us have is that our networks are too inbred – we only know people who are very similar to us and we know everyone they know.
How can we bridge the gap and make contacts in other social circles? Uzzi and Dunlap say we need to focus on the Paul Reveres that already exist in our networks.
They describe a simple process for this:
After you identify your key contacts, think about how you first met them. In the center column of the work sheet, write the name of the person who introduced you to your contact (if you met the person yourself, write “me”). This column will reveal the brokers in your network and help you see the networking practices you used to connect with them.
These are the people you already know who are clearly able and willing to help you branch out. They should be the first people you call and where you invest a disproportionate amount of your time and energy.
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