“When I explain my job to people I always say it is a combination of mathematics, anthropology, sociology, psychology and communication. We play with all those ingredients to help people live their dreams! It can be a company dream, like getting more clients or finding new employees, or it can be a personal dream, to find a new job or to find the love of your life…”

Finding your dream job or a life partner – it seems that Miriam Notten, a social network expert and founder of her own company “La Red”, knows how to do it all. We interviewed Miriam to get to know the secret to a successful and happy life. Get on board!

Hi Miriam, please tell us more about your company and what you are doing.

16 years ago I founded a company – it is called “La Red”, which is Spanish for “The Network”. And there is only one thing that we do: we teach people and companies how to build or to empower their social capital in the networks of themselves or their employees.

We define social capital as mutual help that is being given or received in the network of people. Social capital can be various things: it can be an inspiration, it can be sharing ideas and knowledge or introducing you to somebody new who possess certain expertise valuable for you; it can simply be listening to your story and giving you feedback or even helping you with moving to a different place.

So what we do at “La Red” is the network analysis that shows people how the network around them or their company is built and how to make use of it in the most effective way.

To give you an example, let’s say that you are in the electricity business and there are 1.200 partnering companies for you to keep in touch with. However, you cannot drink coffee with 1.200 people in a year – that’s impossible! So we identify who are the 50 most powerful and influential individuals for you in your network, so you can take your time and invest in building a genuine and sustainable relationship with those top 50.

How exactly do you do that?

We gather a lot of data about companies and people around you by finding out all the details about who works where and what they do in spare time, what kind of political party they vote for or if they have any extracurricular activities.

All that data is put into a computer model which runs the mathematical analysis. This analysis is based on three measures: degrees centrality, closeness centrality and betweenness centrality.

Degrees centrality is who are the most “popular” people in the network. Those are the ones who know everything that is going through the grapevine.

People who have the highest closeness centrality are the ones who are the closest to everybody else in the network. So if you want to spread a message and spread it fast – you start with them.

Betweenness centrality shows the most influential people in the network, the most powerful between network clusters and certain groups. Those people are the ones to have on your side and to make sure they like your idea, especially if you want it to be adopted by the rest of the network.

The maths behind makes the top 50 list of people of those 3 categories. And then we do the next step. Since different people may come from different backgrounds, cultures and religions not everybody would fit perfectly well together. To give you an example, let’s say that there is a man of 55 who likes playing golf. In that case, you should not match him with a very young woman, especially if she is coming from Muslim religion. They are too different – they would simply not match.

We analyse your top 50 people list and make a description of their “social” DNA. And that actually becomes your guidance of whom to drink coffee with!

And how to find the love of your life?..

It is basically the same process as finding a job! You would not find the love of your life in your inner circle, you have to go to your weak ties. Step out of your comfort zone and go to networks of your acquaintances – there will be someone!

We actually always advise people to find new hobbies. So if you were playing golf forever then you might also like to play cricket or to go to the rugby game or maybe even to a classical ballet performance. And whenever you change the infrastructure of where you meet people – you will start meeting different people. And that is the key to success, be that professional or personal life – doesn’t matter!

General recommendations for people who want to find job/love?..

First, you need to understand that networks are more powerful then you think and that everything is contagious in the network: emotions, information, word of mouth, your reputation. Then it is good to map out your network to check if you are not moving around in circles. Sometimes after analysing your network you might realise that all people you know are actually coming from the same neighbourhood (/town/city, etc.). That means that to move further with your career or social life you might need to step out of regular circles of friends or routines.

What we also suggest is asking people you already know to introduce you to their networks.

And what can you do if you just moved to another city or country and you do not know anybody at all yet?

Whenever we have people moving to a different place we always advise them to check out how people actually mingle in that particular town/city. Would that be a cafe? Or a downtown bar? Or is it actually a place where people gather to play board games? Always try to find out what is the area where people that might be potentially useful for you meet. Then take your preferences and start action! And whenever you meet first 50 people you will get to know another 5 000 through them and expand your network.

Thank you very much, Miriam!