What’s the Value of Your Social Network?

Quality over quantity: it’s an age-old adage that’s been drilled into our brains for almost every situation possible. When it comes to the business world, this concept is even more applicable.

It may seem counterintuitive: we normally think that a diverse array of connections makes for success. That is indeed true, and a broad network is especially useful for testing out ideas. However, when it comes to actually implementing an idea, having a more intimate network is essential.

Social networks
Smaller, more intimate networks are more conducive to implementing business ideas, says Mack Center core team member Lori Rosenkopf.

In a presentation to Wharton alumnae in March this year, Mack Center core team member and Wharton management professor Lori Rosenkopf explained why. According to Rosenkopf, smaller networks allow for greater levels of trust and collaboration.

Rosenkopf used this principle to explain why Paul Revere reached so many people during his famous ride in 1775, while his comrade William Dawes, who made the same trip, is practically unknown; Revere had the support of a small network.

Today, strong social networks are essential. Their necessity in the business world has been sealed by the advent of growing technology; companies need to capitalize on the accessibility of information. Moving around individuals in different departments allows companies to identify key players and maximize efficiency.

The same principle applies to the undergraduate realm. Students are becoming more adept than ever at assessing their “connectivity worth,” shaping their academic pursuits around concrete relationships rather than stretching out their activities across the board. This will prove beneficial in the real world, as recruiters are increasingly turning to applicants who prioritize strong connections.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” said Rosenkopf. With social networks, this has never been truer.