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Are you familiar with TED talks?

If so, great, if not google it and have a look. Inspirational, educational, informative and thought provoking. Everything that good talks should be.

I think that for most people, there will be several talks that are helpful…for me there are many.

At present, one of the things that is really interesting is the work being done by Nicholas Christakis who has spent the last 10 years analyzing the dynamics of human networks. His work is, at first, a little confusing but nonetheless fascinating and it started me thinking about how the research that has has produced could perhaps help individuals and businesses develop their networks in a simultaneously more random and more beneficial way.

His thinking goes a little like this.

The Friendship Paradox – [says that] your friends have more friends than you do! Although this may be a little hard to intuitively swallow, I will have a go at explaining.

If you ask people to recommend a friend, the friends they suggest are [statistically] better connected than they themselves are. The reason this happens is that if you imagine two people one (person A) is very well connected (with say 100 friends) the other (person B) is poorly connected with just a single friend.

If you asked a random sample of people to recommend a friend, person A would be 100 times more likely to be recommended than person B. This is the essence of the way that networks work. Anybody chosen at random is (by statistical nature) more likely to recommend people who are more, rather than less, popular than themselves.

If this is true (and I am led to believe that it is), then there must be some way we can take this and use it to grown our networks and influence in a more enriching rather than diluting way.

I already have the answer (I think) and will post that next time!