diminishing marginal utility of too much network growth

yesterday, i wrote about how the tradeoffs between network growth and network utilization. during that process i came up with a a visualization for how my ideal experience of network expansion would be balanced with getting things done via that network.

now, network growth doesn’t only come in the form people although that is what i looks like most often. but sometimes in conjuncton with meeting new people and sometimes not, new ideas and new access to new or existing resources are also a part of network growth (see this paper by mark granovetter on the strength of weak ties (which is one of the most cited sociology papers of all time)).

anyways, whether i’m thinking about people, ideas, or resources, below is a first draft of what i think my ideal growth pattern looks like.

ideal network growth pattern

the vertical bursts are moment of network expansion. the curvy bits are me figuring out how to work effectively in my newly expanded network.

non-ideal network growth patterns

at a certain point, once i’ve done a good amount of actual working with my network, another network expansion moment is a great boost. but as is somewhat apparent in these other two sketches, too many or too few moments are not ideal (in my experience). too many moments means i don’t have enough time to effectively follow up with everyone i wanted to connect with before. i sort of think of this as having sown too many seeds without having enough time or water to tend to them all. too few i think leads to stagnation (too few seeds sown, not enough output).

all of this isn’t to say that continuous network expansion isn’t desirable. i meet new people all the time. this type slow expansion is normal and manageable. it’s just that having too many moments of significant expansion isn’t ideal because it’s not possible for me to effectively tap into the connections i’ve made previously.

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