Forge Better Connections:
In order to produce an efficient network, one must break through the barriers
created by the self-similarity and proximity principles by using the shared activities
principles. The idea here is if one has introduced one’s self to various key contacts more
than 65% of the time, then that network built is too inbred. The best networks are not
forged through casual interactions with people with a similar view on life. In fact, they
are forged through relatively high-stakes activities that connect people that have diverse
views on how the world works.
For instance, Mary Gates did not schmooze her connection with IBM’s Akers.
They built a foundation of trust, exchanged private information, and had access to each
other’s skills. They agreed on a shared activity and pursued it.
Actually any executive can participate in and benefit from a shared activity. The
secret to understanding the power of shared activities in building networks begins with
recognizing that not all shared activities are equally effective. Using the Gates andAkers
example, both parties were focused on one activity and they evoked an extreme level of
passion on this shared endeavor.
Most importantly, someone who cares passionately about an activity will find a
way to fit it into his or her busy schedule, and reliance on others to get the job done will
build trust quickly, even among dissimilar individuals.Additionally, whenever a task has
something at stake whether it is a competition for a prize, breaking a personal record, or
achieving a long-term goal, it provides opportunities for celebration. The idea of
merriment generates supplementary bonds of loyalty. This aspect is similar to the reason why playing basketball for a team will build stronger ties amongst the participants than
playing basketball alone. Independent activities lack the opportunity of networking.
Shared activities bring together a group of people with disparate visions around a
common point of interest, instead of connecting similar individuals with shared
backgrounds. Participants in a shared activity allows for instinctual responses and
unscripted behaviors, which are usually deemed as genuine. Consequently, this group of
diverse individuals will enjoy a close working relationship with others that they might not
otherwise have formed.
The magic of shared activities can be beneficial to all people. Todd Redding, a
client development executive for nonprofit firms, meets with potential donors through
shared activities that are outside a typical business setti