How many friends do you have (real-world, or otherwise)? Is your manager among them? If so, recent research (pdf) from IBM and MIT suggests you may be a more productive asset to your firm because of the benefits of a strong management connection.
The research. . .even assigns a dollar value to e-mail interaction with an employee's managers. Among the group studied, several thousand consultants at IBM, those with strong links to a manager produced an average of $588 of revenue per month over the norm.
Researchers. . .found that the average e-mail contact was worth $948 in revenue.
The IBM-MIT study found that consultants with weak ties to a number of managers produced $98 per month less than average.
In order to attempt to quantify which patterns and interactions are profitable, BusinessWeek reports that companies such as IBM and Microsoft are hiring a mix of economists, anthropologists and other social scientists to pinpoint this value.
It's no accident that these same two companies offer suites of web-based social software tools that potentially offer their customers a wealth of network data, clicktrails and interaction analytics to track who is connecting to whom and who is accessing what, feeding ever more data into the system for the social scientists to decode.
It's always made sense to be friends with management; it's just never been quite so literal a connection.