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Friend of a Friend .: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career Hardcover – May 1, 2018
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
— Cal Newport, best-selling author of Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You
“David Burkus is one of the world’s most highly-regarded young business thinkers — and this book shows why. FRIEND OF A FRIEND is packed with unexpected insights about networking, all built on top of a solid foundation of social science. For years, we’ve all gotten same advice about making and maintaining contacts. This book offers a fresh — and human — approach.”
— Daniel H. Pink, best-selling author of To Sell Is Human and Drive
“There’s a better way to network than hitting up mixers and throwing business cards in people’s face, David Burkus shows you how — with some hard-hitting science and fascinating stories to back it all up.”
— Jordan Harbinger, host of “The Art of Charm” podcast
“David Burkus is a gifted translator of social science research. In FRIEND OF A FRIEND, he shares not just tips on how to network more successfully, but also a new, research-based framework to help us cultivate more meaningful relationships. You’ll never look at networking the same way again.”
— Dorie Clark, best-selling author of Entrepreneurial You and Stand Out, and adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business
"A self-help business book that challenges conventional wisdom about networking. As a business professor and contributor to TED and the Harvard Business Review, Burkus (Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual, 2016, etc.) has compiled plenty of anecdotes and case studies about how successful people have networked to form successful alliances, and he backs these stories with some theoretical underpinnings from the social sciences. Perhaps the most counterintuitive but convincing advice he offers is that your network's weaker ties, the people with whom you have rarely connected for years or even decades, might prove more valuable than your closest connections. The reason? The people you know best usually know the same people and also know what you know. "Our weak ties often build a bridge from one cluster to another and thus give us access to new information," writes the author. "Even though the strong ties in our life are more likely to be motivated to help us, it turns out that our weak ties' access to new sources of information might be more valuable." Each chapter ends with a set of exercises, "Practicing Online," including a link to a template to download. In providing an overview of "how social networks operate and how they create opportunities in work and in life," Burkus stresses the fluidity that a business landscape that changes so rapidly requires: how teams work best when they have a short shelf life, how positioning yourself to connect seemingly disparate camps pays dividends, and how important it is to know how to work inside your silo and when to step outside. The author extends his argument beyond career pragmatism, suggesting that networking events with the goal of expanding those networks are less effective than opportunities to do something together and really get to know each other. Furthermore, many prosperous business relationships begin as personal friendships, with those who like and trust each other looking for something they could accomplish together. A fresh rethinking of a crucial process in today's world." - Kirkus Reviews
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Now, the heart of the matter. If you have ever felt that the way that we currently do "networking" just seems off, then this book is for you. Burkus takes the reader through some surprising (or too often overlooked) realities straight out of the gate, including in chapter 1 when you realize that it is the weak ties in your network that have the most potential value for you.
Chapters 3 through 6 were worth the price of the book (and more) just on their own, and will challenge the way that you look at finding not only your place inside of a networked society, but change the way you look at your friends and friend of friends.
As someone who reads about 70+ books a year, this is one of the best nonfiction texts I have read in the last two years!
There was not a single chapter I didn't find valuable (see dogears in photo). I could immediately see how to apply the science to my own work, and in many cases, I was inspired by the stories to create my own networking activities. And along the way, I picked up some neat trivia, too. (Did you know Sequoyah single-handedly developed the written Cherokee language that is still used today?)
Each chapter starts with a summary of the wisdom contained within. Burkus then cites research, case studies, interviews, and conversations that all demonstrate the idea posed in the summary. Each chapter ends with action steps for you to analyze your own network ("From Science to Practice"), and ways to incorporate social media into your practice.
Highly recommended! (I've already passed my copy on to a colleague.)
As a fun aside: I was one of the kids they monitored as part of the Framingham Heart Study mentioned in the conclusion. (Being "mentioned" in the book did not affect my rating.)
So, if you want to read it, I’d just skip all the text and read the summaries at end. Sadly, this felt like another “coulda been a blog post” book. I read it mostly because I’m engaging a lot more in networking, so I still got some value from the points. I could summarize them pretty quickly:
1) Don’t just spend time on existing connections, reconnect with past friends/coworkers as that can yield more opportunities
2) Host a dinner or event as a way of connecting people and allowing some great new ppl into your circle
3) Be intentional about who you spend your time on, how they might help you, etc when it comes to professional connections
4) Use activity-based events (e.g. volunteer event, class) rather than networking-based events as a better way to make connections
David has not only changed my mind about networks several times over, but given me a whole new set of action items that will engage and leverage my connections differently: find my own local cluster, rekindle dormant ties, and almost every chapter title this book has laid out. I’m actually looking forward to doing them too! As I learned here, the connected become more connected. Read this book, take its advice, and tailor it to what works for you authentically. There’s plenty of sound research to back you up, thanks to David’s hard work.