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Who We Know Matters

Who We Know Matters

In 2019, Professor Paul Ingram of Columbia University published a first-of-its-kind paper on the careers of 90 pioneering abstract artists.


Who We Know Matters

The paper explored fame. Why do some talented artists become famous? And others don’t Ingram’s research found that great art doesn’t necessarily correlate with fame, but a diverse and influential network does.


Networks matter. But what do we do with that? If our networks matter, how do we build ours?


Strong networks aren’t really built by handing out business cards and attending ribbon cuttings. By gripping and grinning. And they’re not built by connecting with people on Linkedin or Twitter.


These are tactics. To be effective, they require a foundation. And the foundation of a strong, enduring network is being a person of value consistently, over a long period of time.


By helping a colleague win a big client.

By referring a high performing friend to an executive who hires her.

By collaborating with smart peers on successful projects.

By introducing two people who benefit from the connection.

By creating things.

By following through on small commitments.

By spending time with people. Preferably in person. Over coffees, lunches, and dinners. By asking good questions. Then listening to understand.

And by regularly checking in. An email. A text. Holiday cards. A phone call to say happy birthday.


Strong networks are built by nurturing real relationships. With a diverse group of peers. And maybe a handful of people a few decades ahead of us who’ve built a career we’d like to model.


The best way to nurture real relationships is by being a person of value. Consistently. Over a long period of time.

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