Matthew O. Jackson: Human Networks – How To Amplify Influence In A Digital Age 

Greetings everyone, my name is Julie Masters and welcome to another episode of Inside Influence. In which I delve into the minds of some of the world’s most fascinating influencers – or experts in influence – to get to the bottom of what it really takes to own your voice – and then amplify it to drive an industry, a conversation, a movement or a nation.

Here are some questions that have been on my mind recently:

Is there a science behind how and which ideas become mainstream? Could there be a formula to driving a movement through a human network – at maximum impact and speed? Is it possible to develop a framework that would predict what we pay attention to, what we ignore and what we actually act upon?

And… if the answer to any of those questions was yes… then could it be used to predict some of unexpected situations (politically and culturally) – that have occurred globally?

Essentially – is there something predictable here that I’m missing when it comes to who and what ideas gain the most influence.

My next guest has dedicated a career to – among many other things – understanding this science. The science of human networks. In particular decoding how our position in these networks impacts the most important decisions of our lives.

So why is that vital to the question of influence? Well – our networks – and where we sit in our networks – write the story of pretty much every choice we make.

Traditionally these networks were the people we grew up with, the people we worshiped with and the people we worked with. However now and perhaps most influentially – they are the people, groups and platforms we spend our digital lives interacting with online.

These networks make up the fabric of our lives – our identities – our choices – and everything we believe to be true.

And yet – amazingly – very little is known about the science of human networks. In particular how ideas spread from one part of a network to another. A fact my next guest – Matthew O Jackson – aims to change.

Matthew is the author of ‘The Human Network – How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors’. He is a Professor of Economics at Stanford University, an external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute, and a senior fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences; a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and former Guggenheim Fellow. Having reached more than a million students via his popular online courses on social and economic networks.

In today’s conversation Matthew and I unpack:

The digital tipping point in human revolutions – how, when and why ideas take hold
Why influence and popularity are distinctly different – and how the person with the least contacts is often the most influential
The importance of being the primary translator – or ‘centre star’ – for your target market.
How not enough people focus on the ‘halo effect for building influence – where it’s who you know rather than how many people you know that makes the difference
How to go about identifying the most influential people within your network
And finally – some of the key patterns that make an idea or a movement contagious

There is a quote by Sonia Sotomayor that Matthew uses in his book that I love: ‘Virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this work you have to be known to people’.

Understanding human networks is essentially that – understanding the science of becoming ‘known’. Which I would suggest, whatever work you do – is usually the key to taking it to the next level.

So grab a cup of coffee, a notebook and pen and get ready for a crash course in global movements, historical figures and network based influence.

Enjoy my conversation with the fascinating Matthew O Jackson

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