You Become The Network You Hang With

Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our core conversation, “Great Connections Lead To Great Ideas.” In our last thread, Carol Roth showed how great minds often don’t think alike. Today, Chris Garrett – the founder of the ChrisG and co-author of the Problogger book, shows how it may not be the birds that make the flock, but the flock that makes the birds.

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I owe a great deal to my network. Of course in the usual ways, but also ways you might not expect.

When I look back on my career and business, I can’t imagine what it would have been like without the opportunities, motivation and advice I received. It’s more than that, though.

  • My network introduced me to every new technology that I became an “early adopter” of.
  • It was my network who told me about business strategies that were working or had not had the outcomes they hoped for.
  • All my book deals and big gigs came through my network.
  • Heck, I met my wife through my network!

The strange thing is these are “obvious” outcomes from having a strong network.

What interests me more and more is how your network influences you in more subtle ways.

I really believe you become the network you hang out with.

Have you heard of the “Crab Bucket” concept?

Consider a group of people who gather to complain. Anything different from the norm is looked down upon, criticised and generally discouraged. “Success” is seen as being just like everyone else. Think anyone would achieve their goals while surrounded by people like that?

I used to have a group of friends exactly like this. They mostly lived in the same village (some on the same street). Did the same things. Listened to the same music. Worked at the same place for a long time. They even had joint vacations.

When my first book was published they told me they could also publish a book if they had time. When I suggested they would have time if they quit going to the pub and watching so much TV, it was made clear they did not tolerate such talk.

I started to see real progress when I made a new network. When I sought out people who were a positive, nurturing influence. People who would help me up rather than find ways to knock me down. Rather than hold me back my new network expanded my horizons, expanded my opportunities, and expanded my reach.

It can be tough to consciously move into a new social or peer group. It feels like the wrong thing to do, to leave a tribe is difficult and you will face resistance both from the outside and psychologically.

Thankfully in most cases you do not have to do anything drastic – I’m not saying cut people out of your life! Most of us are lucky that our negative social influences are subtle and not particularly abusive.

Just be conscious of how your network encourages you to think and feel, and work out if this gels with your core values and your goals. Then do something about it!

More about Chris: Chris Garrett is a full-time blogger and new media consultant who has been involved commercially with the Internet since 1994. He founded ChrisG.com where he posts tips, thoughts, and advice on the business of new media and online marketing. He co-authored Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisGarrett.

In tomorrow’s contribution, Sarah Robinson shows how great ideas depend on developing real connections online ”” and offline.
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Comments

  1. tdotcopeland says

    Great article. A key difference between “nice” people and your real friends include people who care enough to challenge you in a healthy, *constructive* way. I learned this from watching athletes on the same team train with and compete against one another.

  2. Archan Mehta says

    Chris,

    Thanks for your contribution here. I also appreciate Charlie for the sponsorship.

    What you have described is indeed true. The tribal mentality mentality means that everybody agrees with everybody else and there is no scope for new ideas at all.
    If you suggest a new idea, you may be considered a “traitor” and kicked out of the group. On

    The group lives in a bubble, but if you are smart you finally know that it is a fool’s paradise. The world is a big place and does not conform to the norms of any group. Innovation means you have to be willing to take a plunge into the unknown and experiment and keep on trying through the tried and trusted process of trial and error. If the group cannot tolerate that, maybe it is time for the individual to leave the group and strike out on his/her own.

    This phenomenon of the tribal mentality is widespread in any society. Social scientists have even come up with a phrase to describe the phenomenon. It is called “group think.”
    “Group think” can prove to be an impediment especially for entrepreneurs. Cheerio.

  3. says

    Perfect message for me this morning Chris. I’ve realized that the time has come to some some overdue changes to my network. It’s a challenging thought at the moment, but that’s what life’s all about so onward and upward! Thanks :-)

  4. says

    It is important.

    It’s also important that we look at ourselves and our contribution to our everyday networks. Are we complaining, gossiping or supporting and positive?

    How do we behave when we’re in networks that are older and deeper and more familiar to us?

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