Friend of a Friend Book Summary By David Burkus

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Friend of a Friend (2018) is a book that provides an insightful look into the importance and power of networking.

It teaches readers how to effectively put the networks around them to use and how to take advantage of the opportunities available in their personal and professional relationships.

The book dives deep into how networking is such a vital component for career development and success, along with exploring its effects on business success, innovation, and much more.

It guides readers through practical advice on how to make meaningful connections as well as help set goals for future growth and progress.

Friend of a Friend Book

Book Name: Friend of a Friend (Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career)

Author(s): David Burkus

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 20 Minutes

Categories: Communication Skills

Author Bio

David Burkus is an influential thought leader and respected educator in the business world.

He is an Associate Professor of Business Studies, as well as a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, where his forward-thinking concepts have gone on to shape and inform countless leaders worldwide.

Additionally, he has become a renowned TED speaker as his talks on topics such as management and business have been viewed by millions.

It's no wonder that his book, Friend Of A Friend: Unlocking The Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life was so highly anticipated!

Unlock Your Network: How To Expand Your Business Potential And Achieve Your Goals With The Right Connections

Achieve Your Goals

Having a strong network of people around you is one of the most important things for achieving success.

Leveraging your existing connections and making new ones will open up opportunities for business growth, innovation, and diverse perspectives that can help you reach your goals.

This is exactly what David Burkus explores in his book “Friend of a Friend: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life”.

It teaches readers how to increase their circle while ensuring its quality at the same time.

Through examples both theoretical and practical, such as hit songs whose tune doesn’t really matter or how The Four-Hour Workweek became a bestseller, as well as finding out what card game led to a lasting friendship between Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, we see just how powerful networks can be.

If you take David’s advice and learn to leverage your networks for all they’re worth, then there’s no telling where you’ll end up!

Weak Social Ties Are Key For Professional Success, Innovation And Job Searches

When it comes to achieving success in any field, whether it’s at work or in your personal life, connecting with people you’re not so close to is incredibly important.

Known as ‘weak social ties’, these connections are key to becoming a better networker and promoting innovation.

In 1970, Harvard University student Mark Granovetter surveyed people who were attempting job transitions and discovered that the majority of those who had managed their job search with weak social ties- instead of strong ones- had 83% more success.

Essentially, by talking with people that weren’t too closely connected to them and their current network, they were able to receive information from an entirely different set of people.

This method of networking also applies when trying to generate innovative business ideas for start-up companies.

In 2002, Martin Ruef conducted an experiment involving 700 startups and asked how they had formulated their business models.

It was found that almost all the business models generated from weak social ties proved more innovative than others from strong social ties.

This was supported by the fact that many more patents were filed for unique ideas emerged from speaking with weak ties in comparison to strong ones.

Ultimately, connecting with people you don’t know very well leads to better networking opportunities and increased chances of innovation.

So grab yourself some new contacts today!

Networking With People Outside Your Comfort Zone Leads To Innovation And Professional Success

Making connections with unfamiliar groups opens up a world of possibilities.

We see evidence of this in the work of Sequoyah, an early nineteenth-century Cherokee silversmith who created a universal syllabary for his native community from his interactions with American settlers.

His innovation not only helped to bring the Cherokee together, but has also stood the test of time to be used today in Cherokee cities like Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Furthermore, research by sociologist Ronald Burt supports this point; he found that those managers who ‘networked’ outside their social clusters were able to come up with much better ideas than those that kept within their known circles.

These same people were the ones with the highest salaries and promotions within the company.

This shows us that building connections with unfamiliar groups is more than just beneficial to innovation – it is good for your career too!

Teamwork – The New Mantra For Innovation And Invention


Gone are the days of isolated scientists crying “eureka!” alone in their labs – nowadays, innovation is more likely to result from a team effort.

Sociologist Brian Uzzi studied millions of scientific papers published between 1955 and 2000, along with the teams and individuals behind them, and made an interesting discovery: while the average size of a scientific team in 1955 was 1.9 people, by 2000 that number had risen to 3.5 people – and collaboration added up to as much as 51.5 percent of total content on scientific papers by then.

Not only that, but Uzzi also found that studies produced by teams increased in impact over time; in 1955, research done collaboratively was referenced 1.7 times more than solitary research – but by 2000 it had increased to 2.1 references for every single paper.

More surprisingly yet, when Uzzi looked at what made those teams successful, he found that the most respected works were not written by established working relationships – instead, coming from new teams composed of researchers who had never collaborated before.

Teams who worked together for a long time were less successful, despite having more experience together – indicating that innovation needs fresh perspectives!

This suggests that reshuffling teams can lead to better outcomes when innovating.

In other words: if you want great results in your work collaboration process – don’t be afraid to shake things up every once in a while!

The Matthew Effect And Social Influence Show How Networking Becomes Easier Over Time

Gathering connections is like a snowball effect – once you start, it can quickly gain momentum.

This is understandable; when looking for contacts, people naturally gravitate towards those who already have lots of them.

Jesus said the same in Matthew’s gospel, referring to the Matthew Effect which states that those with much will receive even more.

The same goes for networking.

The larger and more connected your network is, the easier it becomes to add to it.

Popularity too can help create positive momentum when linking up with others.

In 2006 two sociologists performed an experiment on a website where participants could listen to unfamiliar songs for free — it showed that choices became much more popular and influential when other people could see how often each song had been downloaded before.

Just as selecting one particular song over another caused its popularity to skyrocket, so does having lots of contacts mean potential new contacts come knocking at your door.

So for successful networking, remember the snowball effect!

Once you’ve got some connections, the chances are you’ll be able to grow your network easily from there.

How To Become A Super Connector And Profit From It

Super Connectors are those people who have amassed huge numbers of contacts and an extensive network.

When compared to the average person, the Super Connector’s network will pale in comparison – making it seem like you don’t stack up with the rest.

But before you get disheartened, know that it is possible for you too to become a Super Connector.

There are real-world examples which demonstrate success in achieving this, such as Tim Ferriss.

Before his bestseller The Four-Hour Workweek was published, Ferriss had no established network; instead he created an illusion of having one.

He focused his attention on sites and individuals who fitted his target audience demographic: men aged 18 – 35 and interested in technology.

He made connections with these people by attending conferences where he could meet them and initiating informal conversations which would quickly develop into opportunities that would promote his book.

As a result, many tech geeks started posting about him; creating the illusion of being a Super Connector, thus driving hordes of potential readers towards him.

This propelled him from being an unknown into becoming a genuine Super Connector – along with the gratification from publishing his own bestseller!

Diversify Or Default: Why We Need To Make Conscious Efforts For Networking With Different Groups

Efforts For Networking

In 2009, sociologists Duncan Watt and Gueorgi Kossinets observed the email flow between students of a university over the course of a year.

They studied student profiles detailing attributes such as age, gender, and courses taken.

The results showed that similar-minded people were more likely to get in contact with one another because they tended to hang out in the same places on campus or even take the same courses.

Over time, this preference for similarity became self-replicating and lead to an inclination towards clustering into homogenous groups.

This phenomenon was even recognized by entrepreneurs and journalists Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber when founding Gimlet Media within 2015.

Though their staff was mostly white, liberal and cosmopolitan due to networking among New York-based journalists, they realized how difficult it is to establish diversity based on affinity towards similarities.

It comes down to this: If you want to maximize your networks potential you’ll have make a deliberate effort to connect with different types of people and diversify your contacts easily.

Otherwise, you can risk clustering into populations of sameness which makes achieving diversity a challenge.

Skip Social Mixers: Network And Bond More Effectively Through Shared Activities

Social mixers may seem like the favorable way to network, but it’s not necessarily the most effective.

It turns out that people have an easier time bonding through shared activities rather than just attending an event.

This was recently discovered in a study conducted by two business professors from Columbia University.

A group of students and business executives attended an evening drinks event on campus fitted with recording devices.

Results showed that despite most participants viewing themselves as “highly motivated” to make new connections, they end up speaking with old acquaintances more than half of the time.

That’s why behavioral scientist Jon Levy holds dinner parties with a unique twist: each guest is split into teams when they arrive and cook dinner together; identities and occupations are not disclosed, and thus hierarchies are removed.

Then afterwards, everyone plays a game to guess who each person is.

The results speak for themselves – Levy’s dinner parties are hugely successful and many attendees had gone on to collaborate with starting businesses or TV shows together!

So if you want to truly connect with someone, forget about trying to talk over noise at a mixer.

Try engaging in some fun activities instead!

The Benefits Of Business Connections Formed Through Friendship

Business Connections

The idea that the friendship and business connections go hand in hand is not only true for Bill Gates and Warren Buffet but is a concept seen across businesses around the world.

In 2009, sociologists Ferriani and Fonti studied companies in the Bologna area of Italy and found that there was a strong correlation between business connections and friendships.

It was further discovered that when friendships formed the base of a relationship, it was more likely that they would engage in business together.

A separate study in 2015 by Methot showed the importance of encouraging professional friendships within companies as these could lead to better performance levels while reducing emotional fatigue among employees.

Its clear evidence of how networking works; having strong relationships can help you be more successful both professionally and socially.

Whether you are seeking advice or new opportunities, having friends within your industry can give you an incredible advantage over those who don’t have established relationships.

Networking through friendship is a great use of time as it allows for personal development as well as growth on a professional perspective.

Wrap Up

When it comes to networking, you need to start by being aware of who you’re talking to and cultivating weak social ties.

Doing this can lead to stronger networks and more diverse contacts that will benefit your workplace productivity and innovation.

Additionally, engaging in shared activities is a great way to break down social barriers and build better relationships that could lead to successful business partnerships.

You don’t even need an official team for this either – reach out to your friends, listen to what they have to say and learn from them.

Ultimately, these small efforts have the potential of forming strong bonds that will strengthen both personal and professional networks.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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