Who is your 150?
Where people sit in your network is just as important as who is in your network
Social Media has changed how we think about networks. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others gave us the illusion that our networks can be virtually infinite and that we should be valued on the size of our networks. “Influencers” are glorified – and becoming an influencer (often dictated by the number of likes, shares, and more that one receives) is an object of desire. Unfortunately, this trend has taken attention away from the most important network we have – the relationships you actively manage.
The concept of Dunbar’s Number is that as human beings, our brains are limited to tracking and maintaining stable relationships with “only” 150 people. It would be easy to debate whether 150 is the right number, but most importantly, this concept outlines that our capacity to manage multiple relationships is limited. The number of connections we can manage is not confined to just work – we’re limited across the scope of all of our social interactions. We can’t endlessly add people to our network and expect to get the full benefit of a relationship with each individual.
Our attention and capability to manage relationships is a critical asset, a scarce and precious resource of tremendous value.
If we frame our ability to manage relationships as a precious resource, we ask ourselves new questions. Who is my 150? How often is my 150 changing? Is it the right 150? These questions are provoking but must be in the context of our goals (including having a happy family life or maintaining friendships). As I work with organizations, I encourage leaders to consider whether their 150 includes the leaders in different functions that will ultimately impact the organization’s success. If not, the opportunity for success and collaboration is limited.
At AFN, we believe in the power of a network to drive your success. Your network is the source of new ideas, opportunities, the solutions to your challenges and is crucial to providing the support you need. AFN boosts the capabilities of your 150 and ensures it can be the right 150 as your needs change.
As you continue your leadership journey, remember that the relationships you manage are precious – make the most of them!
About Matt Sitter
Matt Sitter is CEO of the Advantage Foundry Network (AFN). He is passionate about optimizing team collaboration and harnessing the power of networks. Matt has served on multiple executive management teams and is an executive coach and organizational consultant. He received his BA from Brown University and MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth.