Seth talked yesterday about Dunbar’s number, that Wikipedia defines as:
Dunbar’s number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restricted rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number, but a commonly cited approximation is 150.
One take on this is that there is no way of stretching this number without blurring people over 400 into a meaningless stream of faces that you fail to remember who they are.
I believe there is also a second approach, where you turn constraints into a business model. A big part of the 150 limit will be occupied by your non-professional friends and work colleagues, extended family etc. Leaving you just a limited room for true professional contacts.
Here is where the business model comes in: if you’re willing to sacrifice the relative amount of your personal network, you can in turn resell it to others via introductions and networking facilitation. One could call this occupation community management (as you need to know and have relationship with influencers), but it expends to all sorts of managerial out-reaching roles such CEO or public relations officer. At the end of the day, it also might be the reason why you’re a better freelancer.
How many of your personal contacts are you willing to sacrifice for your career?