It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“It looks like the American Dream – which promises that if you work hard and use your brain, you can find success – is alive and well. After a 25 year study that followed over 2,000 Americans, researchers have demonstrated that it isn’t your connections that determine your professional trajectory, it’s your intelligence.” (“Research Proves It’s Not ‘Who You Know,’ Intelligence Is The Key To Success” ; TheGrindstone.com 3/31/2011)
One of the great things about making lots of connections and having lots of friends is that you might know people in various different fields. In my year of making friends I met consultants, teachers, bridal consultants, caterers, writers, actors and more. In a job market like this one, having a vast network that spans industries comes in handy. If I have a friend looking for a job, I almost always have another friend in the same field who is willing to at least answer some questions or make an introduction.
But if you’re still starting your BFF search, or it’s a bit slower going (after all, who else in their right mind would go on 52 friend-dates in a year?), never fear. The latest research says that whether you have lots of connections or not, they whole “who you know” mantra is a myth. Even being a Trump or a Wayans doesnt guarantee you success: “The researchers found that while a well-connected and socio-economically stable family could help young professionals score a high-paying entry-level position, it couldn’t help them move through the ranks of their company.”
I used to hear especially connected people who wanted to prove their own merits say, “I don’t want to use my connections, I want to get it on my own.” I’ve always thought that was silly. In a world where jobs are scarce, reaching out to contacts is part of life. My response is usually this: Having contacts won’t get you a job, it will get you an interview.
Companies aren’t going to hire someone who is incompetent and lose a lot of money. They are willing to spare the time to meet someone, though. At least that’s what I’ve always thought. It’s always nice to get this kind of scientific confirmation. “Once working, brainpower was the true indicator of a person’s advancement. Those who scored highest on standard Army intelligence tests were promoted quicker and reached higher pay levels in the end. Their abilities helped them to leave even their well-bred peers in the dust.”
Obviously nepotism, or being the boss’s best friend, can come in handy sometimes. But the good news is that overall, connections aren’t the whole deal.
Of course, with this, as with pretty much every other aspect of life, having more friends and social connections is more likely to help than hurt. If you ask me, it’s what you know and who you know.
What do you think? Is being connected the fastest route to getting ahead? Or do you agree that “who you know” can only get you so far?