Network Your Way Into Work, Part II: The Seven Laws of Networking

This is the second instalment of a two-part article on the art of networking. In part I we learned about the law of the small world and the law of first mover advantage. Today, read about five more important laws, the understanding of which can turn a supernerd into a supernetworker.

3. The fit ones will get rich

Fit people do get rich.

People who have a deep and earnest interest in other people, who care, who are humorous, relaxed, friendly, will make more connections as a network-node than your typical hard-studying, poor communicator nerd.

If you are fit and good at making connections, you may even overcome the first mover advantage. And if you are not fit, you might want to get into training (remember the five modes of human interaction: Steal - Beg - Deal - Like - Love!).

Let's suppose that there are some people that you like. Or who love you. Or at least with whom you can make an honest exchange, a deal. SPEND TIME WITH THEM. Give out beers, or the equivalent, whatever suits your situation. Listen to people and interact with them. Check the balance and there you are: fit, and getting fitter!

Getting your network in shape is crucial because finding work needs more than a handful of extremely close and dear friends. Because finding work is governed by:

4. The strength of weak ties

In 1973 Mark Granovetter1 found in his study of 300 professional, technical, or managerial workers that 56% of people got their job through personal contacts. And 83% of these personal contacts were a vague friend, an acquaintance, someone they did not know well.

This is where the Law of the Small World comes in: Information about jobs is possibly best found through hubs. Plus, you do not have to be a best friend or lover of this hub to get to this information.

Imagine your dream job. There is a hub somewhere who knows about it. And she probably knows who is making the decisions about it too. AND YOU ARE ONLY SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION AWAY FROM HER. And since the Law of the Strength of Weak Ties always works, you don't even have to know for sure where to find her yet. Another weak tie can get you there. And of course, it is already a biblical wisdom: "Ask and thou shall be given."

But hey, be careful out there. There is always:

5. The risk of referencing

My friend Jan works in IT, but also is heavily involved in politics. Now, suppose that I ask Jan to introduce me to a specific person in his political party, let's say, Sharon.

If Jan likes Sharon, here is his risk of referencing:

  • Jan likes me.

  • Jan likes Sharon.

  • If Sharon hates me, where does that leave Jan? (See Figure 1)

  • Jan would be in trouble!

Figure 1. Jan, Sharon, and Me

Luckily we have the Law of the Strength of Weak Ties. Referencing vague acquaintances is less risky then referencing people that you are very fond of. And in job hunting we were looking for weak ties anyway. So as long as we are careful, we are in the clear.

Therefore we now can introduce:

6. The benefit of a crisp question

"Jan, would you happen to know somebody somewhere, in politics or anything, that would like to give me a job in doing something that you think I'm good at. ... And I want a company car as well."

Ever got a question like that? Could you do anything with that? I guess not. In the given example Jan would have to start by thinking of those scarce talents that he knows I have, then conceive a job relying on those, then think of an area where I could perform such a job, and lastly remember some people in this area that are looking for personnel.

Not even my own mother could do that, and she knows me very well.

What you need to send out across your network, through the weak ties, reaching for hubs, is a crisp question.

For example, a friend of mine, an interim manager, always says: "I'm good at cutting companies in half. Do you know any companies that need cutting?" (Is that crisp or what?) And then, responding to the question in the eye of the listener, he adds, "Of course I'm no butcher. I make sure that it is as painless as humanly possible. I make sure that the cut half, the people that are laid off, land on their feet. I start them on a new career. But I do cut the company in half."

If you look at this question, notice that it is very short, very memorable, and it almost invariably invokes a need for further explanation. It is a beautiful crisp question. Not for me, but I know it works for him.

What is your crisp question? And how does the other one profit? Because crisp questions only work if they obey:

7. The paradox of profit

As a poor student I always bought the first round of beers. I knew that it would all come back to me, and it always did. (I did study too.)

Networking is simple. There are only five modes of human interaction and only three of them work for you. Deal, like, love. There are seven laws that govern networking.

But you can forget all of that. You can forget all but the seventh law: the paradox of profit. You have to give in order to get. Not giving beer means not drinking beer. Treat others as you want to be treated. So steal and be stolen from. Beg and be begged from. Give and get. Love and be loved.

In networking you simply give without expecting to get back. Give with pleasure, and the world will give back. In networking world, this makes you fitter, and as we have seen, the fit get rich. Remember balance though. Give respectfully. To the receiver. To yourself. Big gifts usually involve difficulties. Giving yourself away is not respectful to you.

Givers get. That is the paradox of profit.

Roel and I came to a mutual understanding. We found our way of studying, drinking, and coexisting. Jan and I see each other regularly. I never cease to be amazed by how easy it is to renew old ties, or to make new ones.

People are interesting, if you listen to them, if you have the guts to take the first step. I wish you all the guts to take that first step, to be interested in people, to deal, like, or love.

Dick van Vlooten is founder and owner of di Cuore, an institute that studies the art of doing business from the heart. Networking is one of his major fields of interest. Dick has trained businessmen, students, and entrepreneurs in the art of networking, published articles, and given lectures. You can contact him via the Web site:


  • M. Granovetter, "The Strength of Weak Ties," American Journal of Sociology 78, 1360 (1973)

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