I listened to a Virgin podcast the other day, and I heard about Dunbar's Number. Thought I'd look into it a bit more.
"What's the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar?" 150!
This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.
This number has been proved in so many ways. Such as the average number of Christmas cards sent out by an English household is 153.5. In the Western military, the smallest autonomous unit hovers around 150. The maximum number of people in a tribe is around 150.
The simple explanation by Dunbar is that "In the same way that human beings can’t breathe underwater or run the 100-meter dash in 2.5 seconds or see microwaves with the naked eye, most cannot maintain many more than 150 meaningful relationships."
So it seems that social networks will not help us develop better meaningful relationships (I think most of us know this already). But my question is, since 150 is the human limit, any way we could enlarge that with some medical breakthrough?
Actually, a more down to earth question, how do we distribute that 150 effectively? A wide range of people should definitely help a.k.a. "diversity your portfolio". Get to know people from different "zones". It's interesting because my spinning class instructor started using this "Zoning System" based on individual's physical ability. Everyone is in a zone based on age, sexuality, education, income, religion, strength, weakness etc.. Reaching out to different zones is essentially resource sharing. So in my opinion, networking event adds little value if you are just hanging out with people in the same zone. It's like you are just consuming 1 pie without enlarging the pie.
A little exercise we can all do, have you reached your 150? If so, try to optimize it.