new college grads can rest easy knowing that research suggests there are career benefits of having friends at work. In fact, research shows that new employees who have stronger and larger networks of friends at work better integrate themselves into the social fabric of the firm (Morrison, 2002). Additionally, employees who have strong work friendships are more committed to the organization and have greater role clarity (the sense of knowing the responsibilities and boundaries of one’s work).
The best networks are the biggest ones, right? Wrong. Although popular belief and common self-help books tend to equate effectiveness with size, the truth is that the sheer number of people in your network is not nearly as important as you think. In their 2008 article “How Top Talent Uses Networks and Where Rising Stars Get Trapped,” researchers Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas introduce three other factors that are much more influential in crafting an effective network: authenticity, centrality, and a complementary nature.