Dr. David Burkus: Understanding And Making The Most of Your Personal Network, Episode #22

Anytime we begin to talk about a personal network, there are people in the conversation who break out in a cold sweat. That’s because they have been given advice about networking and tried to apply it and the results were less than stellar. In fact, many of us have very sour taste in our mouths because of the miserable networking advice we’ve tried to apply. My guest on this episode of the podcast, Dr. David Burkus has written a new book entitled, “Friend of a Friend.” It’s his remarkable attempt to examine the actual research that exists about how networks actually work. It’s not a collection of anecdotes crammed into short chapters of pithy advice, it is actual data that explains how networks operate and debunks the myths about personal networks many of us believe. Listen to this fascinating conversation and you will learn how to make better use of your personal network.

[Tweet “@DavidBurkus : Understanding And Making The Most of Your Personal #Network, Episode 22 of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhawan #GetBigThingsDone #networking”]

Why you need to understand the network you are actually in and act accordingly

Most of the books you read or advice you hear about the topic of networking are based on first-hand accounts and experiences. My guest today, Dr. David Burkus points out that that is a dataset of one. It’s not a very reliable source of knowing what is normally true in most cases. He suggests that we look at the actual research that’s been done about how personal networks operate to better understand best practices. He says understanding networks is not the issue, but understanding the actual network you are a part of is the real key. In our conversation, he outlines some of the things you need to consider about your personal network in order to make the best decisions about how you should interact with people within it. It’s a valuable conversation you won’t want to miss.

Do you know how to make your personal network work for you AND for others?

We often think of networking from the perspective of what we can get out of it. Surely, there is an aspect in which we want to benefit from the relationships we invest in, but that benefit usually comes from being a giver, not a taker. David Burkus explains that it is important for us to take the time to understand our network in all of its intricacies and nuances so that we can better respond to the people we correspond with and know – in ways that actually benefit them and us at the same time. You’ll find out how David recommends you do that, on this episode.

[Tweet “Do you know how to make your personal #network work for you AND for others? @DavidBurkus shares data one how to do it, on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhawan #GetBigThingsDone #networking”]

What are the best-practices to effectively leverage your digital network connections?

One of the promises that social media made in its beginning days was that we would be able to build our personal networks faster and more deeply as a result of using social media. David Burkus says that is only partly true. We are able to carry on conversations and discover things about the people with internet with through social media, but very seldom does that interaction take the place of real, face-to-face relationships. David explains how we can make good use of social media to build existing relationships and why it’s often necessary to organize face-to-face meetings in addition to the social media interactions we have on a day-to-day basis.

Networking tip: Don’t ask a friend for an introduction to one of their friends

One of the things I was curious to receive David’s thoughts about was how he recommends a person should go about asking for an introduction from one of their friends. His answer: Don’t. In David’s view, that approach puts the friend in a position that is uncomfortable for them at the least and potentially dangerous to their relationship with the person you want the introduction to, at the worst. He has a better idea: inquire broadly throughout your network for people who specialize in the areas you’re focused on at that time. The responses you get will be generous, eager, and much more helpful than pursuing the one person you think you really need to meet. David has a great deal of practical advice like this to share, all based on research. You can hear it on this episode.

[Tweet “#Networking tip: Don’t ask a friend for an #introduction to one of their friends. Find out why @DavidBurkus makes this recommendation on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhawan #GetBigThingsDone #networking”]

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:47] What David believes about when a person becomes a leader
  • [2:54] The reasons David wrote his book: a fascination with network science
  • [7:25] Key questions to ask yourself to make your network work for you
  • [11:54] Digital networking: Best-practices to effectively leverage it
  • [14:33] Do stylistic choices we make in digital communication matter to your network?
  • [18:55] The highlights David feels are most important in his book
  • [21:40] Advice for those who want to become smart networkers
  • [25:02] What’s the best way to ask a friend for an introduction to one of their friends?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica






[Tweet “Why you need to understand the #network you are actually in and act accordingly. #Networking data and recommendations from @DavidBurkus on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhawan #GetBigThingsDone #networking”] [Tweet “What are the best-practices to effectively leverage your digital #network #connections? Discover @DavidBurkus’ advice on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhawan #GetBigThingsDone #networking”]

Join over 50,000 newsletter subscribers to receive invites to Erica’s events and insights on how to lead, collaborate and market in our new normal.