You have 150 friends

British Anthropologist, Robin Dunbar coined the “Rule of 150”.  This rule states that 150 is the number of people with whom any one individual can maintain stable social relationships – your network.  In his Bloomberg post, Jake Bennet explains, “Putting it another way, it’s the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.”  These people are your Co-workers, clients, college friends, neighbors, church/PTA/tennis club members, and hair stylist.

The strength of weak ties

Here is where the math gets interesting.  If everyone in my network of 150 has a network of 150 then I am one degree away from being known and trusted by 22,500 people. In her book Defining Decade, Meg Jay describes the concept of the strength of weak ties.  She explains that if, for example, you are looking for a job the odds are none of your closest friends will be in a position to hire you. Someone in your friend’s network; however, may know someone who has a job opening for which you’d be perfect.

The goal of networking is when someone in your network of 150 or one of their 150 needs your expertise, they will think of you first.


Relationships are all there is.
Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else.
Nothing exists in isolation.  We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone. 

Margaret Wheatley

Six tips for being known and trusted by more people

Look for ways to help people

  • When you meet someone, your focus shouldn’t be on what they can do for you, but instead on how you can help them. I have found that if I focus on helping others get what they need, eventually I get what I need.

Make conversations about the other person, not about you

  • You leave the best impression by listening well, not by talking. Telling the other person how much you know may demonstrate competency, but it tends to diminish the view of your character.  When this happens trust gets diminished.


  • If you have followed tip one and two above, it’s easy to follow up. Send a short e-mail the following day saying you enjoyed meeting them and providing the information you promised them.  Not only does this remind them of meeting you, it is another chance to demonstrate character by delivering on the commitment you made.

Get involved in trade associations and civic groups

  • It takes a long time to get known and trusted when you just show up for an hour meeting once a month. Instead, get involved by serving on a committee. This way you have the opportunity to demonstrate your character and competency to the most influential people in the organization.  Once you have built trust with them, they will introduce you to everyone you need to meet.

Connect others together

  • Often the greatest value you can provide is to connect two people who can help each other but would never have connected without your help. You don’t need to have all the answers if you can put people in touch with someone who does have the answer.

Stay in touch with your network

  • If your college roommate hasn’t heard from you in 20 years, then it is going to be awkward when you give her a call to ask a favor. It won’t be awkward if she hears from you every year or so.  Find ways to stay in touch with your network – check in by phone calls or text, e-mail a link to a blog they might like.  Social media can help you stay connected but don’t rely on it completely.