Research Finds That Success Might Be Related Not Just to Whom You Know but to How You Communicate with Them

Research Finds That Success Might Be Related Not Just to Whom You Know but to How You Communicate with Them

Nathaniel Bulkley, a doctoral student working with assistant professor Marshall Van Alstyne at the University of Michigan School of Information, won the first annual Visible Path Graduate Student Award for new research on social networks and professional performance, the International Network for Social Network Analysis announced (INSNA) today.

Bulkley analyzed how white collar workers use social networks to improve professional performance. The hypothesis that success is related not just to whom you know but how you communicate with them was supported by key findings including:

— Professionals’ use of social networks evolves over the course of their career from accumulating relationship capital to exercising it

— Frequent, short communication outperforms lengthy, infrequent communication in efficiently moving information through a social network

— A central position in an organizational social network is consistent with higher individual performance

For his research, Bulkley conducted surveys and studied six months of email data and accounting records from an executive recruiting firm representative of professional services firms organized around client practices.

An unexpected finding was a lack of relationship between a recruiter’s private rolodex and network size or job performance.

More information on this year’s winning paper, “An Empirical Analysis of Strategies and Efficiencies in Social Networks,” is available at www.centralityjournal.com.