Believe me, its interesting!
Robin Dunbar was born on June 28, 1947 in Liverpool (well thats not important). He is a British anthropologist and evolutionary biologist, specialising in primate behavior. This gentlemen gave us a number, called as Dunbar‘s Number which basically says that the most amount of people that you can maintain stable social relationships with is 150.
Wikipedia says
“Dunbar’s number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restricted rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number, but a commonly cited approximation is 150.”
The moment I came to know about this number, I started reading about it. One big concern for me was, has anyone revised this number from 150 to 150n after social media.

What I can make out with the word “stable relationships” is having good and consistent relationship with people. This may be right, even after social media’s era. People, you are good friends with, Dunbar says, are less than or approx 150. As per me, this isn’t really important! You can not infer any damn thing with this number, or can you?
As per me, more important than Dunbar’s number is, how many Dunbar’s circles you fall in! Confusing? Let me try and explain. With 150 stable relationships that you have, how many people consider YOU in their stable relationships? Lets call it Satyam’s Number. 🙂
I haven’t read the theory behind Dunbar’s Number, however I believe its true. My logic says (without any analysis) that if your Satyam’s Number is greater than your Dunbar’s Number, you are socially preferred and people like you. Which also concludes that higher your Satyam’s Number, better is your networking. Dunbar’s number, on the other hand, doesn’t tell much about one’s social circle or one’s preference among networks.
If your Dunbar’s number is satisfactory, you shall still look forward to your Satyam’s number. Because the latter also tell how trust worthy you are. You might also consider people from Satyam’s number as week stable relationships but a help from week relationship (unexpected) is as good (or better) as a help recieved from people from Dunbar’s number.
“A research shows that weak ties can prove much more helpful in networking, because they form bridges to worlds we do not walk within. Strong ties, on the other hand, tend to be worlds we already know; a good friends often knows many of the same people and things we know. They are not the best when it comes to searching for new jobs, ideas, experts, and knowledge. Weak ties re also good because they take less time. It’s less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak tie) than twice a week (a strong tie). People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.”
We shouldn’t be trying to figure out how we can maximize the number of strong relationships we can build or how we can beat Dunbar’s number; that task is as fruitless as it is irrelevant. Strong ties are formed without efforts. Build weak ties where you can because they are extremely valuable, more so than strong ties. Leverage Social Media for this and you will see week ties converting into strong ones, effortlessly.
Enjoy That!

Satyam is a Consultant with Infosys Ltd. and editor / founder of marketinomics.com. When he is not talking about Digital Marketing or dreaming of CRM strategies, he can be found on a treadmill. He enjoys travelling, reading and listening to music! Catch up with him on twitter at @xatyam

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