“In a world where things are viral, you’re more likely to succeed with passive networking (strangers recommending you) than the old school active kind”
This is true in a closely connected world like VCs or the blogosphere, but may not be so true on a regional level where connections are not so close. The big guys (McKinsey, Steven King, General Foods) Seth mentions always manage to win probably are able to do so because they are big, and have a strong connection network. They don’t have to be viral because they can easily win by sheer weight.
When you are starting something, which I am also currently going through, you have to find a way to infect people so that the virus catches hold and spreads. To be successful, you still have to infect a “sneezer”, to use Seth’s vernacular. A sneezer is a person so well connected that when he or she sneezes, everyone catches a cold, so to speak. And the message, or virus itself, has to be a sticky one. That means that it still depends on who you know, or how closely you are connected to a sneezer.