The Power of Your Social Network

When we were younger, making a new best friend was something simple to do, but now we are all grown up. As adults, there is more that goes into choosing who we let into our personal and professional lives. When we surround ourselves with successful people we feel empowered and inspired to do more; likewise, surrounding ourselves with negative influences can make us develop internalised negativity.

An individual is known by the company he keeps.

Nicholas Christakis, in a 2010 TED Talk, discusses how our good, bad and indifferent behaviours and actions tend to mirror those of our network of relationships. For example, if your friend has poor eating habits, their influence may cause you to develop a similar diet. That is why many times people will associate your values, attitudes and behaviours with those you surround yourself. If you spend most of your time with an unmotivated and unreliable colleague, you may be ultimately associated with them, and this can go for your personal social circle as well as your professional one.

If the people we spend our time with are going to have a big impact on how we lead our lives and our careers, it may be a good idea to choose your friends carefully. Consider your close relationships and identify the traits these people share. You may find that you spend a great deal of time with people who are more skilled than you, which inspires you to develop your capabilities. Perhaps your closest friends are encouraging and supportive people, constantly pushing you to succeed. Or maybe they are all ambitious go-getters who understand your desire to work hard and persist. Although you may be chasing different dreams, these friends can support you in your pursuit of growth, development and knowledge.

The one thing that is more important than creating and keeping a great social network is being a great friend yourself. Relationships are not one-sided, and you cannot achieve success on your own. Surround yourself with people who will help you become the best, and in return surround these people with the support and encouragement that will help them bring out their best. Your social network is a two-way street, hence always have the mindset of adding value to a relationship. In a social or a professional network it’s not only about how many people you know, its also about how many people know you.