The very nature of what we do means all of us within the BTB Team spend more time on the plane than we would like. The only bonus, I find, is that I read and read a tonne. Reid Hoffman, the man behind LinkedIn and one of the early investors in Facebook, has really changed the way we develop relationships, in particular, business relationships. I smiled with amusement when Reid describes the very act of networking as slimy and inauthentic.
People are smart. Just engaging with someone because they might benefit you, somewhere, somehow in the future, is pretty fake. It’s a poor excuse for a relationship, it’s not a relationship at all really. The novelist Jonathon Franzen gets it right when he says ‘inauthentic people are obsessed with authenticity’.
The maximum number of relationships we can realistically manage – the number that can fit on the memory card, as it were – is described as Dunbar’s Number, after the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar.
In the early 1990’s, Dunbar studied the social connections within groups of monkeys and apes. He theorized that the maximum size of their overall social group was limited by the small size of the neocortex size; Dunbar calculated that humans should be able to maintain relationships with roughly 150 people at a time. He also found that many businesses and military groups organise their people into cliques of about 150. Hence, Dunbar’s Number of 150.
People are indeed smart; they see through the fake and look for the real. The authenticity.
The article is excellent and well worth a read.