While networking is the biggest requisite for finding jobs and business opportunities, a new study has revealed that it sometimes does more harm than good.
In the study, Dr. Yuval Kalish of the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University analysed the networks among groups of students at a teachers' college.
"If you're at the intersection of two previously unconnected niches of a network, you're occupying what I call a 'structural hole,'" said Kalish.
He claimed that if one fills that space, it could lead to prestige, opportunities and power, or it might lead to something drastic as well.
"While it's been reported that people who occupy these 'structural holes' become more successful, some structural holes may be 'social potholes' that can harm you and your business," he warned.
He said that both the positive and negative lessons of his unique research could be applied to business, politics, the arts, and even the military.
Among group members in the study, he found two quite different personality types-ambitious "power-hungry" entrepreneurs who tried to keep the network closed and increase their own power, and "peace-builders" who tried to close the structural holes, bringing members of the group together to enhance the collective good.
Finally, Kalish found that both ambitious entrepreneurs and socially conscious peace-builders had great risks in manipulating the networks and structural holes to their advantage.
"Ongoing research shows that occupying a structural hole, even by the well-intentioned, is associated with short-term gains and long-term costs," said Kalish.
He said that those who fill these structural holes might be putting themselves in more jeopardy than they think.
Kalish said: "For example, if I'm the only connector between Arabs and Jews in a classroom rife with intergroup conflict, I'll probably burn out."
He claimed that occupying a structural hole lets you control information, which is power and ultimately translates to prestige and monetary benefits.
But once your manipulation of information is revealed to others, you may suffer negative consequences.
The study has been published in the Asian Journal of Social Psychology.