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Why networking is essential for entrepreneurs

Stashed in: Steve Jobs, Founders, Creativity, @oprah, Bill Gates, @richardbranson, Creativity, Entrepreneurs, Networking

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From Jonah Lehrer's new book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works":

Ruef then analyzed each of these entrepreneurs using an elaborate metric of innovation. He measured the number of patents they’d applied for and kept track of all their trademarks. He rated the originality of their products and gave them bonus points if they’d “entered an unexploited niche” or pioneered a new marketing method. He then compared these innovation rankings to the structure of each entrepreneur’s social network. The results were astonishing: businesspeople with entropic networks full of weak ties were three times more innovative than people with small networks of close friends. Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity— thinking the same tired thoughts as everyone else— they were able to invent profitable new concepts.

There is something unsettling about Ruef’s data. We think of entrepreneurs, after all, as creative individuals. If someone has a brilliant idea for a new company, we assume that he or she is inherently more creative than the rest of us. This is why we idolize people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey. But Ruef’s analysis suggests that this focus on the singular misses the real story of innovation. The most creative ideas, it turns out, don’t occur when we’re alone. Rather, they emerge from our social circles, from collections of acquaintances who inspire novel thoughts. Sometimes the most important people in life are the people we barely know.

It's good to see affirmation of this.

And a reason why we should practice networking regularly. That helps us make more connections.

And as Steve Jobs once said, Creativity is just connecting things.

From Richard Florida's book review: 

I just find it slightly ironic that even the researchers inventing all these wonderful tools that allow us to interact remotely, such as email and Skype and Facetime, still organize themselves into local clusters. They know that they need to constantly interact in person, which is why they pay the exorbitant rents of Mountain View or San Francisco or Brooklyn. The city, it turns out, isn't obsolete. Not even close.

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