Art & Science of Networking


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Does networking really make a difference? The answer is a resounding yes! In a study performed by Partnering Resources, 93% of completely successful change initiatives were led by leaders with very strong or strong personal networks. Not one change initiatives described as less successful was led by a leader with strong or very strong personal networks. Furthermore, a recent study featured in Sloan Management Review showed that high performing project teams had almost twice as many non-core contributors affiliated with the team.

In this highly interactive session, we learned about the science behind networking. We drew on insights from researchers and practitioners in the social sciences and in business to learned about the networking practices of high performers. We dispelled the myth that people who want strong networks should never eat alone and, instead, we learned about the simple actions that significantly contribute to the health of your network. We merged the art and science by mapping individual participants’ networks, identifying gaps, and developing plans for filling those gaps.

Presented October 2, 2012 at The Commonwealth Institute.

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Art & Science of Networking

  1. 1. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 The Art & Science of Networking The Point Yes, There Is a Science! The top 20% of The Commonwealth Institute October 2, 2012 performers in organizations are more Maya Townsend likely to cultivate and Partnering Resources leverage their networks. 2 Objectives Howdy, Neighbor! • Increased understanding of the science behind • Turn to the person next networking to you. • Swap business cards. • The three different kinds of networks—strategic, • 3 minutes to discuss: operational, and personal—and how to use each ► What do you like most one about networking? • Preliminary strategic analysis of their own ► What is your greatest fear or concern about networks networking? • Identification of the gaps in their personal networks and ideas about how to fill those gaps 3 4 What is a Network? What is a network? The science of networks Public transportation networks help people travel in cities How high performers use networks Analyzing your networks Watch out for network traps Computer networks move data from location to location How to do it The circulatory system Networks are about movement carries oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from our cells 5 6 617.395.8396 1
  2. 2. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 The Simplest Network All In All… Human networks are also all about movement: • A network consists of the The movement of information trusted relationships created in order to… Sam knows how to answer the ► Exchange information question so Mary connects you to ► Complete work Sam You have a You ask your She doesn’t know ► Get advice question friend Mary the answer and calls Sam for advice ► Solve problems ► Socialize Problem solved! 7 8 Image: TouchGraph. Networks versus Social Networks Networks are Ancient Social network tools help us Tribe 1155 develop and maintain networks But the goal is the network Village 148 Overnight Camp 38 Core Group 2-6 9 10 © 2011 Maya Townsend. Data: Christakis & Fowler, Connected. Weak Links are Important The Power of Weak Links • Weak links outperform strong links when attempting to connect Weak links are more to a different world casual, sporadic, • 25% of jobs secured unplanned, or through contacts who fleeting were hardly ever seen (Granovetter study) 13 14 © 2011 Maya Townsend. Image: WebWizzard on Data: Koch & Lockwood, Superconnect. 617.395.8396 2
  3. 3. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 Critical Connector Quiz What is a network? If you answered “Yes” to The science of networks questions… How high performers use networks #1 AND #3 – Put a yellow Analyzing your networks dot on your name tag. Watch out for network traps #2 AND #6 – Put a green dot on your name tag. How to do it #4 AND $5 – Put a red dot on your name tag. 16 17 The Secret to Managing Networks: The Hub Critical Connectors • Identified by Dr. Karen Stephenson • Exist in all networks Cathy • Critical Connectors Harry Gary comprise only 5% - 15% of the network Chris • Three Critical Connectors ► Hubs • Highly and directly connected with many people ► Gatekeepers • Communicate and disseminate knowledge through the organization ► Pulsetakers 18 19 Image: © 2005 NetForm, Inc. Used with permission. The Gatekeeper The Pulsetaker Cathy Cathy Harry Gary Harry Gary Chris Chris • Serve as links between departments, functions, and groups • Have maximum influence using minimum number of direct contacts • Act as information gateways • Work through indirect means • Broker knowledge between critical parts of the organization 20 21 617.395.8396 3
  4. 4. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 The Pulsetaker: 6º of Separation Master Companies like Org Charts… Jane is at the individual contributor level on the org chart 22 23 But There’s More to the Story Howdy, Neighbor! • Turn to the person on the other side. • Swap business cards. • 5 minutes to discuss: ► Do you think you might be a hub, gatekeeper, or Jane pulsetaker? If so, why? ► What hubs, gatekeepers, and pulsetakers do you know at work? 24 25 Network Knowledge & High Performance What is a network? 41% The science of networks • 36 - 42% more 34% How high performers use networks likely to exceed expectations 30% Analyzing your networks 24% • 43 – 72% more Watch out for network traps likely to be 15% How to do it promoted 11% 12% 11% 5% • 42 – 74% more likely to stay with "Far Exceeds" Promoted to Higher Left Company the company Expectations Rank BLP Graduates Control Group Others in Top 5 Job Ranks 26 27 From Burt & Ronchi, “Teaching Executives to See Social Capital: Results from a Field Experiment.” 617.395.8396 4
  5. 5. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 High Performers are More Likely to… Network Considerations of High Performers • Build high-quality relationships • Operational • Invest in relationships to • Personal extend expertise, balance biases, and prevent career • Strategic traps • Position selves at key network points and leverage people The top 20% of employees are more around them likely to build and maintain personal networks • Cultivate select ties with external experts 28 From Cross, Thomas, & Light, How Top Talent Uses Networks and Where Rising Stars Get Trapped. 29 Operational Networking Personal Networking • People who can help you… • People who can help you… ► Get work done ► Grow personally and professionally ► Provide referrals to useful ► Fulfill your work responsibilities information and contacts • Contacts are usually internal and ► Give honest, caring feedback focused on current demands • Contacts are usually external and share current interests or future • Your job: build strong working potential interests relationships • Your job: Reach out to people who can make referrals or give advice • Who do you need in order to get things done? • Who do you need in order to develop professionally? 30 Three types of networking from Ibarra & Hunter, Harvard Business Review. 31 Three types of networking from Ibarra & Hunter, Harvard Business Review. Image by Wonderlane on flickr. Strategic Networking • People who can help you… ► Figure out future priorities and What is a network? challenges The science of networks Get stakeholder support for How high performers use networks ► the future you want to create • Contacts are future-oriented and can be internal or external Analyzing your networks • Your job: Create leverage— draw on resources from one Watch out for network traps area to achieve results in How to do it another • Who do you need to build the future you want? 32 Three types of networking from Ibarra & Hunter, Harvard Business Review. Image: Aussie Gal on flickr. 33 617.395.8396 5
  6. 6. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 Critical Connector Former Last full-time job client Board connections / Boston connections Connections in my field University client Connections where I teach 34 35 Advisory Board Member Colleague Just Back in Workforce 36 37 Quick Network Assessment Analyzing Your Network 1. Jot down the ten • Turn to the person behind people you interact you. with most frequently • Swap business cards. on the job • You have 10 minutes: ► What strengths do you see 2. Identify differences in your network? 3. Identify networks ► What red flags do you see? ► What might you do to 4. Assess strength leverage strengths and address red flags? 38 39 617.395.8396 6
  7. 7. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 Watch out for network traps… What is a network? The bottleneck The formalist The biased learner The science of networks How high performers use networks Analyzing your networks Watch out for network traps How to do it The disconnected expert The surface networker 40 41 Images: Gijs van Kooten et al. Traps: Cross, Thomas, & Light, How Top Talent Uses Networks and Where Rising Stars Get Trapped What can you do if you’ve fallen into Quick Quiz: Network Traps a networking trap? Which network trap are you most likely to fall into? Biased learner (A) Bottleneck – Has too much on their plate or has a tendency Bottleneck Formalist Identify areas of Find information, decisions, Identify brokers, informal overinvestment and to be controlling and tasks that can be decision makers, and other underinvestment and take reallocated and/or mentor key network players and (B) Formalist – Relies too much on the formal structure and others to provide backup align with the formal system steps to balance the network misses the nuances (C) Disconnected expert – Knows what they know… but doesn’t keep up with new learning Surface networker Disconnected Expert Refocus attention on what (D) Biased learner – Draws too much on old relationships or Identify skill gaps and build can be offered, not just “like” individuals ties to those who can help what can be received, and fill gaps build relationships with (E) Surface networker – Knows a lot of people superficially but critical individuals hasn’t built trust 43 44 A Common Tip for Network Building What is a network? The science of networks How high performers use networks Analyzing your networks Watch out for network traps How to do it 45 46 617.395.8396 7
  8. 8. The Commonwealth Institute, 10/2/2012 Managing Relationships The Minimalist Approach Create a Build tie Identify the critical connectors and gaps in weak tie strength your network. Then… 1. Schedule two coffee meetings per month Strong relationship Two Do Weak tie disconnected nothing; Maintain people maintain relationship weak tie 2. Forward two emails per week 3. Walk around the office and talk with people two times per day 47 48 Key to Building Your Network Where can you go from here? Project Performance The bottom line: Identify the individuals that You can improve your will make your project successful. Broker performance by relationships between those individuals. cultivating and leveraging your networks Professional Success Sales Performance Analyze your work Identify the people that you networks. Take corrective need to tap in order to action to remedy any increase sales productivity. network traps. Build those relationships. Using Knowledge Find knowledge hubs and gatekeepers. Connect them to improve coordination across divisions. 49 50 Photo: Sizumaru’s Photo Stream, Flickr. About the Presenter • Founder of Partnering Resources, a management consulting company. • What stands out as • Specializes in helping companies meet complex change and collaboration challenges using network knowledge. most relevant to your • Client list includes Alcatel-Lucent, Andover / Phillips Academy, work? eCopy, eTeck, Fidelity Investments, Financial Profiles, Hanover Insurance Group, MIT, and Merrimack Pharmaceutical, • What are your next National Air and Space Administration, and the National Braille Press. steps? • Teaches leadership, strategy, collaboration, and alignment through Boston University Corporate Education Center. • What are your • Published by CIO.Com, Mass High Tech, Chief Learning Officer, Talent questions? Management, and other magazines and journals. • Serves on the Editorial Review Board for OD Practitioner, the premier organization development practitioner journal in the US. • Blogs at and • Likes chocolate a lot. |617.395.8396| 51 617.395.8396 8