WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

 
THE MORE YOU HAVE, THE MORE YOU WILL HAVE
Gathering connections is like a rolling snowball: once you’ve got some, you’re going to amass more and more. In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus declares that those who already possess much will be sure to acquire more. In sociology, this is called the Matthew effect, and it applies to networking, too.
Simply put, the more connected you are, the more connected you’ll get. It’s pretty logical, really: when people are out to make new contacts, they naturally look for people who already have lots of ties.
It’s easy to visualize what happens next. When an already well-connected person starts piling up more links, they’re more likely to attract new people wanting to join their network. There’s a lesson in this. If networking seems hard at first, don’t worry; as your contacts accumulate, it will get easier.
Another reason why networking becomes easier over time is that popularity is infectious and spreads quickly through social groups. This was the discovery of sociologists Matthew Salganik and Peter Dodds in 2006. The pair set up a website where people could log in and listen to unfamiliar songs for free. But they actually created several different versions. In one, the visitors only saw the album’s title and artist’s name. In the other, it was also possible to see how many times a given song was previously downloaded.
It turned out that the participants were highly influenced by others’ choices. On the website version where it was possible to see others’ selections, certain songs rapidly became hits. In fact, one song soon outranked them all. In contrast, on the other site that displayed no such information, the same song only came in at spot 40 of 48. This very same principle applies to networking.
If you’re connected and people know it, then others are going to come knocking at your door.
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Super Connectors can make your own network pale in comparison, but you, too, can become one.  
Imagine that one of your friends was 100-feet tall. If you were then to calculate your friendship group’s average height, you’d find that this one measurement had skewed the average dramatically upward. In fact, you’d have to admit that you were shorter than average.
The same idea holds true when comparing network sizes. Though many people like to imagine they have more friends and contacts than the average, they don’t.
That’s because Super Connectors – people who have amassed mountains of contacts – will knock the average right out of whack.
Social media only exacerbates the issue. In 2016, two McGill University computer scientists, Naghmeh Momeni and Michael Rabbit, analyzed millions of Twitter users’ followers and tweets. They found that Super Connectors ruled the roost.
Very few users boasted millions of followers, and the vast majority of users actually fell well short of the average number of followers, which stood at 155,657 at the time of the study. But there’s no need to get disheartened. It’s actually possible to become a Super Connector and to profit from it.
Tim Ferriss is one such example. Before he published his best seller The Four-Hour Workweek in 2007, Ferriss was an unknown with no network to speak of. But he had a business plan up his sleeve. Ferriss worked out that his target audience would be men aged 18 to 35 and interested in technology. He therefore found the 10 to 15 websites that were most popular with that demographic. After that, Ferriss targeted their owners: he attended conferences where he could meet them and struck up informal conversations that quickly segued into full-blown product pitches.
Before long, most of these online bloggers and journalists were posting about him – the illusion had been created. To hordes of tech geeks, Ferris seemed to be a Super Connector. They came flooding to him, his book became a best seller and he became a genuine Super Connector for the first time.
People cluster into homogenous groups, which can make diversity a difficult goal to achieve. The old saying goes that birds of a feather flock together, and there’s a lot of truth in that. Just look at how Nigeria elections are split between increasingly PDP and APC.
Olusola Bodunrin
Olusola Bodunrin is a social commentator with a passion for gathering facts on social issues. He is writer, businessman, blogger, and wardrobe consultant. He is a graduate of Philosophy from the University of Ado-Ekiti. He anchors – ‘What You Should Know’ on SHEFFA. ‘What You Should Know’ is a column that offers to educate and enlighten the public on general falsehood and myths.