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Harv Bus Rev. 2005 Dec;83(12):53-60, 151.

How to build your network.

Author information

1
Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, Evanston, Illinois, USA.

Abstract

Many sensational ideas have faded away into obscurity because they failed to reach the right people. A strong personal network, however, can launch a burgeoning plan into the limelight by delivering private information, access to diverse skill sets, and power. Most executives know that they need to learn about the best ideas and that, in turn, their best ideas must be heard by the rest of the world. But strong personal networks don't just happen around a watercooler or at reunions with old college friends. As Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap explain, networks have to be carefully constructed through relatively high-stakes activities that bring you into contact with a diverse group of people. Most personal networks are highly clustered--that is, your friends are likely to be friends with one another as well. And, if you made those friends by introducing yourself to them, the chances are high that their experiences and perspectives echo your own. Because ideas generated within this type of network circulate among the same people with shared views, though, a potential winner can wither away and die if no one in the group has what it takes to bring that idea to fruition. But what if someone within that cluster knows someone else who belongs to a whole different group? That connection, formed by an information broker, can expose your idea to a new world, filled with fresh opportunities for success. Diversity makes the difference. Uzzi and Dunlap show you how to assess what kind of network you currently have, helping you to identify your super-connectors and demonstrating how you act as an information broker for others. They then explain how to diversify your contacts through shared activities and how to manage your new, more potent, network.

PMID:
16334581
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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