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Success and Centrality in Social Networks

In the business world, building a strong network presence is one of the main indicators of success. A person’s success in this field is almost completely defined by the people they know and how they use these connections to their benefit or to expand their network. While many people are well-versed in the skill of networking and forming large amounts of connections quickly, there exists a common misconception that power in a network is solely based on how connected one is, or centrality. While in many cases, centrality is a good indicator of power in a network, it is not the sole measure that should be used. To understand the power of a node in a network, all the relevant factors have to be taken into account, but centrality can be telling in many cases.

One instance is in social networks, specifically those of LinkedIn and Facebook. When the relationship between success, defined in terms of publications, successful projects, business ventures, net worth, and job title, and position in the network is studied, the importance of centrality becomes apparent. Centrality is an especially good indicator of success on LinkedIn. This can be attributed to the fact that LinkedIn consists of professional and significant connections as opposed to a Facebook network, which often consists of unimportant and even random connections. Furthermore, having LinkedIn connections in circles where a person has few other connections creates more power in the network since it opens access to a different section of resources than the existing circle.

In order to predict the success of a businessman or businesswoman, both Facebook and LinkedIn networks need to be studied simultaneously. When the two networks are combined, this is the best indicator of how successful a person is. Looking at both networks allows us to see centrality, proximity to other successful individuals, and the power of those that the subject is connected to. All of these factors, in turn, provide indication of whether the subject is successful in their field.


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