I tend to be a skeptical person. Perhaps it’s from years of doing brain teasers and logic puzzles, perhaps it’s from my early desire to be a journalist and an economist growing up, or perhaps it’s just time and experience. Whatever the reason, I tend to not see much value in pithy memes or inspirational social media posts. Sometimes, depending on what they are, I really dig into what the implications are from what is being shared. And, when I do this, I find that the message is often illogical at best and misleading or detrimental at worst.
Today, I am talking about a popular phrase that’s been thrown around on social media. It comes from a book that was published a few years ago and sounds catchy, but the implications could be detrimental if the guidance is taken literally.
"Your network is your net worth."
Have you heard this one?
It’s originally from the book Your Network Is Your Net Worth by Porter Gale. At first, I thought she was just trying to throw out a clever saying, a spin on words if you will to grab attention. After reading more about her theory, outlined in her HuffPost article about her book, it sounds like she intends to make a literal comparison. For example, in the article Why Your Network is Your Net Worth she states (my emphasis added):
"I believe your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio.
Therefore, I believe that your "net worth" will be based not on the size of your portfolio or the size of your network but on your ability to define and stay true to your passions and values and that working with other people who share them will allow you to build a strong and enduring interpersonal safety net that will carry you through any financial calamity to greater output and personal fulfillment."
This might sound compelling, especially since it's probably more fun for most people to build their network with people instead of invest money in their IRA. That said, research, testing, and data refutes this. Listen to my take on why this comparison is inaccurate, data on actual wealth-building from an empirical study of 10,000 millionaires across the US, and a high level overview on networking here. My goal is to encourage you with practical, pragmatic information on wealth building and financial planning as well as to highlight the real, rather than the hyperbolic, value of networking as one of many inputs or variables when it comes to achieving success.
Bringing it full circle, I'll end with my own inspirational signoff: your actual worth is never based on how much money you have or the size of your network.