Tag Archives: networking

What Are You Looking At?

Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness.” — David Foster Wallace

That cartoon at the top of this post is by a cartoonist named Wally Wood, and — the title is kind of a giveaway on this — it’s a list of 22 ways to illustrate a panel in a cartoon.

Consider this: There’s only so much you can do with a cartoon. There’s only so many ways to keep a story going. There’s only so much that’s possible in a tiny rectangle.

Before looking at the Wally Wood graphic, I might have been able to name five or six ways to illustrate a panel.

But 22? I had no idea.

Point is: Whatever you’re thinking about, there’s probably another way of thinking about it. Whatever you’re looking at, there’s probably another way of looking at it.

Don’t get locked into your own perspective. Get out and listen — to friends, to critics.

Let them help you figure out what you’re really dealing with. Let them show you a new side of the problem.

The Really Easy Way To Tell If You’re Networking The Right Way.

“Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.” — Keith Ferrazzi

I was folding my laundry on Monday when I realized something: Right there, in that laundry basket, I could tell that I hadn’t hustled hard enough the week before.

All I was pulling out were T-shirts and jeans and sweatpants. There wasn’t a polo shirt or a pair of khakis or anything with a collar. There wasn’t any dry cleaning for me to pick up later, either.

That’s a bad, bad sign.

Like most people, when I’m going to networking events — dinners, talks, conferences — I try to dress the part. Yeah, I’ve got the word “founder” on my business card, but I’m no Zuckerberg. Hoodies just don’t work for most of my networking events.

But if I get to the end of the week and my decent clothes are still hanging instead of in that laundry basket, I know I just haven’t gotten out enough.

I’ve said this many times before: If you want something really big in life, you need an awesome team behind you.

The best jobs, the best opportunities, the best stuff in life — it all comes from working hard and building a network that can support you and push you to the next big thing.

And the best way to grow your network is to do some networking. Great things come to those who show up and hustle.

Last week, I didn’t hustle hard enough. My laundry basket’s gotta look a little better next week.

That photo of laundry machines comes via @fumichika.

You Are Not a Supernetworker. (Sorry.)

About a month ago, I started writing a blog post that I never finished. It was about Dunbar’s Number, which explains a simple human limitation: we can only really care about so many people. Dunbar puts a limit on it: 150.

But thanks to Facebook and Twitter, we’re more easily connected to others than ever before. You don’t need a giant Rolodex anymore, just an active news feed and the latest version of TweetDeck. So I started wondering: I’ve got a few hundred Facebook fans and a few hundred Twitter followers. And that’s on top of my normal, Dunbar-defined circle.

I may not be a Supertasker, but could I be some sort of Supernetworker?

The résumé-deflating answer I came up with was, No, I’m not a Supernetworker, and neither are you. See, Dunbar’s theory creates circles, starting with your innermost circle of friends and expanding until you reach that outer circle of passive acquaintances.

Think of it this way: the inner circles will end up at your wedding. The outer circles might get a Christmas card (or maybe a Facebook birthday wall post). Social networking might bring you a few hundred or a few thousand additional connections, but the majority will remain in that outer circle — or beyond.

The irony is, you might engage them regularly — but you can’t really care about them on the level that Dunbar’s describing. (1)

But I was hugely impressed to see a media outlet finally discuss the ramifications of social networking on Dunbar’s Number. It came in a Guardian piece that actually asked Robin Dunbar what he thought of his number’s role in the world of social networks.

I asked Dunbar if he saw anything in the evolution of online networks to suggest that the next stage might extend our social horizons in any meaningful way.

“The question really is,” he said, “does the technology open up the quality of your social interaction to any great extent, and the answer to that question is, so far: not really.”

Exactly. But that doesn’t mean these connections are worthless. As Clay Shirky points out in the same piece:

“What these games and applications do,” he says, “is extend and churn the edges of our network, which is often how new ideas are brought into it.”

So add those friends on Facebook. Connect with others on Twitter. They probably won’t be coming to your wedding, and they might not even end up on your Christmas card list.

But if you’re smart, those fringe circles might just help you create something that your circle of 150 never would have thought of.

You don’t have to be a Supernetworker. You just have to be a good listener.

  1. The closest thing I’ve heard of to a Supernetworker is Politico’s Mike Allen — who the New York Times describes as a one-man networking machine. He engages a huge network of contacts on a regular basis. But his closest friends also apparently don’t even know where Allen lives. So I’m not sure he’s the healthiest example of a normal human.