At CIC, we value the impact that a good conversation between two talented people can have. So much so, that six years ago we founded a non-profit organization (the Venture Cafe Foundation) to devote an entire afternoon every Thursday to the power of networking. People gather, share ideas and learn under the umbrella of Venture Cafe’s weekly gatherings.
It made me wonder: How powerful is networking? Which factors combined lead to a powerful exchange of information between people?
To gain more insight on the matter, I perused the world wide web and came across various papers – and it turns out a big key to successful networking is diversity in your network. Research on networking published by universities in Norway explained that to measure the success factor of a person’s networks we need to look into how this person’s networks are connected to each other. In non-redundant networks, where people do not know each other and rarely have the same information, you gain the most valuable information.
The Oxford of Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship also looked at the success of networking. This research suggests that the weaker the tie between two people, the greater the diversity in information sources. Gathering information from different, unrelated, sources results in more powerful information, and thus, more useful networking.
Overall, weak ties among people appear strongly promoted to increase the value of information and therefore can be preferred in networking.
Strong ties, on the other hand, result into an increasing feeling of trust among different people which increases the possibility of one person helping out another. While not directly considered ‘networking,’ this is something we’re extremely interested in at CIC. Research done on the rate of collaboration between researchers at Bell Laboratories (founded by Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone) showed that when they worked in different buildings, only 0.4% of the researchers collaborated with others from another building. However – when researchers shared a corridor, that amount rose to
10%.* This is because sharing a space, and meeting people in a safe space with similar interests builds trust. And trust leads to fruitful business collaborations.
At CIC, we believe that the impact of networking comes from the people who pro-actively engage. Those who are ready to meet likeminded entrepreneurs or dive into the unknown of a different industry tend to leave the conversation with fresh perspective. It is also the way CIC was designed. Come together. Get the best out of the community.
Both CIC and Venture Cafe bring people together in a familiar space and might therefore stimulate trust – networking with strong ties. However, our doors are open to the public, bringing all kinds of unrelated people and expertise together – networking with diverse groups. We want to be a space where you can be surprised by the people you meet, learn new things, and part ways inspired.
Please feel free to check us out, come to a Venture Cafe weekly gathering, and swing by, we’re sure you will enjoy the power of networking.
*Source: Kraut and Egido, Bell Communications Research, and Galegher, University of Arizona, 1988.