The billionaire founder of LinkedIn says there's something more important to success than ambition or a detailed career plan
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- LinkedIn cofounder and investor Reid Hoffman is one of the most well-connected people in tech.
- He said that a strong network is more important to career success than a detailed plan.
- Hoffman said most people don't recognize the power of referrals.
LinkedIn cofounder and investor Reid Hoffman is one of the most well-connected people in Silicon Valley.
His circle of friends includes SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, fellow billionaire investor (and political opposite) Peter Thiel, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg; he's a prominent Democratic donor in US politics; and he's on the boards of several companies, like Microsoft and Airbnb. He's both a tech gatekeeper and guru, and is a prominent writer and speaker on career success.
In a recent episode of Business Insider's podcast "Success! How I Did It," Hoffman explained that a strong network is more important than even the most detailed or ambitious career plan.
He said that the reason why certain parts of the world, like Silicon Valley, produce so many successful companies is because it has an entrenched network of people that make things happen.
"And so, as opposed to saying, 'I have a master plan,'" Hoffman said, referring to either a great startup idea or plan to climb a corporate ladder, you're better off focusing more energy on building "as strong a network as possible, because that's the thing that most catapults you, in terms of your capabilities, in terms of your abilities to do things."
To accomplish this, he said, you have to become a "central node" in a network, where you are adding value to the people who can move your career forward.
As for how to get this going, Hoffman it's much better to get a "warm introduction" than it is to cold call or blindly approach someone, whether that's over the phone, online, or in person.
It ties into the advice he gave author Keith Ferrazzi for his book "Never Eat Alone," which is to only accept LinkedIn requests from people you would feel comfortable chatting with or introducing to someone else in your network.
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