Combinatorial Networking

Oct, 14 2020
2 Minutes

On the Meyer's Briggs scale, I'm slightly more introverted than extroverted. Some might call that an ambivert. But whatever I am, I know I like meeting people, but I just hate doing it at networking events.

In this post, I'll talk about a networking strategy I've unintentionally been using.

Second Degree Connections

I stumbled upon an article last week about LinkedIn's graph database Liquid. The article was interesting to me, but not because of the database. Rather, my attention was fixated on the motivation behind why they needed to build it:

the value of an economic graph for the average member lies mostly in their second degree network

LinkedIn needed a proprietary graph database because they wanted to help customers get more connected with their second degree connections - apparently, the most valuable type of connection.

How large and how valuable?

the set of second degree connections is typically at least 50,000 entities (e.g.,people, schools, employers). It is large enough to be diverse, but at the same time, actionable: you are one new connection away from something that can happen. In fact, your next job is probably in your second degree network.

50,000 is a lot. That's much larger than a solid Twitter following. That would be a very significant mailing list.

And the fact that these connections can be made via a warm intro - that's pretty eye opening.

Combinatorial Opportunity

Being connected to 50,000 people indirectly vs being connected to 50,000 people directly is obviously a very different level of connection. But the point still stands - most of us are far more connected than we might think we are.

Consider, for a moment, the network expanding events that may have happened in your life:

  • Going to college
  • Changing jobs
  • Moving to a new city
  • Joining a club
  • Attending a class after work

If you look around at the people in your life, there's a very good chance they have walked extremely different paths from you. What does that mean? Well, it means your network is packed with dormant, combinatorial opportunity:

What if you asked your current coworkers to introduce you to a former coworker of theirs that they loved working with? And of course, you'd return the favor.

What if you asked some college friends to introduce you to one person they've met since school that they think you'd get along well with? And again, you'd do the same.

What if you asked your new friend from cooking class (or whatever class you're taking these days) to join your college friends for a discussion on travel (or whatever people talk about these days)?

You can see where this is going - take people you know from one context, and intentionally connect them to people from another. Meanwhile, asking if they can do the same for you. There are A LOT of context combinations!

Most of us do this already, but it only happens once in a while. But what it we did this intentionally and frequently?

Wrapping Up

Now, you might see where this is going - but let's start combinatorial networking right here - you and me!

If you're a first degree connection, message me and let's trade combinations!

If we haven't met before, just reach out -  cite this article (or anything from this website) in a Twitter DM and let's set up a time to meet!

Cheers all 🍻