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Social Chemistry

Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection

By Marissa King
15-minute read
Audio available
Social Chemistry by Marissa King

Social Chemistry (2020) is a fresh research-based approach to something that many professionals regard as a necessary evil: networking. The author demystifies how we network and explains the different networking modes available to us. The result is a convincing argument for the transformative power of good networking.

  • Anyone who hates the idea of traditional networking events
  • Professionals who are inundated with business cards but can’t leverage their networks
  • Everyone who’s wanted to connect with a stranger but wasn’t quite sure how to do it

Marissa King is a professor of organizational behavior at Yale University with a special interest in networks, social influence, and group dynamics. Her work on networking has been deployed in the opioid crisis and the fight against the loneliness epidemic. Her research features in publications like the New York Times and the Atlantic.

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Social Chemistry

Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection

By Marissa King
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Social Chemistry by Marissa King
Synopsis

Social Chemistry (2020) is a fresh research-based approach to something that many professionals regard as a necessary evil: networking. The author demystifies how we network and explains the different networking modes available to us. The result is a convincing argument for the transformative power of good networking.

Key idea 1 of 9

Networking isn’t a chore if you know how to do it well.

You, like most people, probably hate networking. The word might conjure corporate networking events where participants look over their conversation partners’ shoulders in search of someone more important to talk to. Or conferences where you come away with a stack of business cards and only a faint recollection of the people who own the cards.

But think for a minute about the role relationships play in your life. A network of relationships can bring comfort, joy, intimacy, new perspectives, new experiences and so much more. When you really think about it, it’s surprising we don’t pour more time into our networks.

The key message is: Networking isn’t a chore if you know how to do it well.

Slick corporate networking misses the point. It’s founded on the misplaced belief that simply knowing more people brings benefits. More social status, job offers, financial gain, and insider intelligence.

But authentic networking isn’t about treating people as assets and relationships as commodities, it’s about finding common ground, facilitating new relationships, and maintaining old ones. A good networker focuses not only on what she can give people but also on what she can get from them.

So, how can you become a good networker? First, learn your networking style. You probably conform to one of three main types: expansionist, broker, or convenor.

An expansionist is a hit at every conference and cocktail hour. Why? This networker is at ease with approaching strangers and exceptionally talented at forging spontaneous ties. If you’re an expansionist, you probably have an address book full of contacts. But while you know all your connections, your connections are less likely to know each other.

A broker tends to have a diverse network of people with different interests and expertise. Brokers are naturals at bringing these varied people together by, for example, introducing their archeologist friend to that cyber-security expert they know. The connections the broker facilitates often result in innovation and collaboration. If you’re a broker, most of your contacts are, like you, creative and open-minded.

A convenor’s network is closely interconnected. Not only are all the convenor’s key contacts valued and intimate friends, but the convenor has worked at fostering deeper relationships between those contacts. As a result, the convenor’s friends are very likely to know and move in the same circles as each other. If you’re a convenor, you’re probably trusted and valued within your network, thanks to the quality of the relationships you’ve forged there.

No one style of networking is better than the other. But learning which style is yours can help you become a better networker.

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