By Nick Corcodilos, Syndicated columnist

Q: You're trying to get an audience with a certain hiring manager to discuss a job, but you have no contacts who know her. You wish you had access to some of the huge networks some people have on LinkedIn. Your own network is pretty small. What's the best way to get connected to that manager you want to meet?

Nick's reply: I've always contended that having big-time contacts isn't what it's purported to be. Lots of folks think that unless they know someone who is well-connected within a company, they might as well apply for a job through a job board and the personnel department. After all, only a few decision makers in a company really matter. Either you know someone powerful and influential, or you don't.

Nuts to that, says Duncan Watts, one of my favorite social scientists. It's better to know "grunts" who don't know many people than to chase highly connected people.

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