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7: Tapping Organizational Networks

Dulworth, Michael Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If you are well along in your career, are happy with your progress, and see a bright future in the organization where you work, you may think that networking is not important for you professionally. After all, you’re advancing at a good pace and don’t feel the need to seek out opportunities outside your organization—you know where you’re going. You may think the best thing for you would be to keep your head down and focus on your job: if you shine at your job, you’ll get the next promotion that much quicker. Spending time networking would just be a distraction. You might think that, but if you do, you could be heading for a tumble.

The fact is that every organization has networks, often hard to spot, that are separate and distinct from those shown on the official organizational chart. The organizational chart shows you who does what and who reports to whom, but it doesn’t show you who talks to whom, who knows what, and how the work 103actually gets done. Politics also plays a role in the life of every organization and often profoundly affects the decisions that get made—and politics most often flows along networks.

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4: What’s Your Personal Brand?

Dulworth, Michael Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Do you know what your personal brand is? Did you even realize that you have a personal brand? Of course, you know companies have brands: Tiffany’s is upscale, with the accent on luxury. Wal-Mart’s is down-to-earth, focused on low prices. Even cities have brands: New York is the Big Apple, while Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. And people have brands too—think Trump, Oprah, and Tiger Woods.

But you don’t have to be a television star to have a brand. You are famous within your own network. People within your network recognize you instantly. And within your network, you have a personal brand. Your brand is, to use an older word, your reputation. It’s how people know you, what they have heard about you, what they think about you.

Your personal brand isn’t how you see yourself; it is how others see you. We can see this most clearly in public figures such as politicians. They work very hard to define themselves, to control the message, their personal brand—but public perceptions win out in the end. The fact is that our brands—our reputations—are rarely the result of the image we try to project but of our actual behavior (which is why people in the public eye often get in so much trouble). Your personal brand isn’t a fake persona or mask you use when you network. It is the real you as others see the real you.

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1: What’s Your Networking Quotient?

Dulworth, Michael Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

As we have seen, people are finding that strong personal, professional, and virtual networks are an increasingly essential element in their development, effectiveness, and well-being. Just look at the popularity of virtual networks such as MySpace, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Ryze. A strong network can help you navigate rapid change in a number of ways, including broadening your exposure to information and your access to expertise.

Networking is something that we all do naturally every day; we just may not call it that. The people who are most successful in life do it purposefully. This book is to help you do what you do naturally more consciously, more systematically, and more effectively.

In this chapter, you will have an opportunity to assess your NQ, or networking quotient. By having a single measure of your ability to develop strong networks—your NQ—you’ll understand the strength of your network and where you can improve.

Before we get to the assessment of your NQ, let me share with you my equation for success:

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5: Entering the Network Zone

Dulworth, Michael Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

At this point in my life, I’ve entered the rarefied world of the “Network Zone.” There is almost nothing that I can’t do or accomplish—or do better, more efficiently, and more effectively—through my network. This network has grown so extensive and deep that I can tap into it to support me personally and professionally and even leverage it to make a positive impact on society.

What can you accomplish when you’re in the Network Zone? The answer is, just about anything! This book is one result of being in the Network Zone. But the Network Zone can go far, far beyond getting books written and published. When I interviewed leadership expert and bestselling author Jim Kouzes, he told me the following story:

I remember when we interviewed Don Bennett, who was the first amputee to climb Mount Rainier. Don responded to one of our questions in a very memorable fashion. When I asked him what was the most important lesson he learned in climbing this mountain (14,470 feet, or something like that) on one leg and two crutches, he said, “You can’t do it alone.” He said, “I wouldn’t have made it to the top of this mountain 76if it weren’t for my climbing team, and I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for my family.” And I think we should all remember that every day—that you can’t do it alone.

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Resource A: Choosing Your Board

Dulworth, Michael Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It is essential to know yourself. Once you have gone through a process to create self-awareness, you are ready to choose the right people to sit on your board to help you make sound choices. Who do you want on your board and why do you want them? Just as important, what do you expect from them and what do you have to offer them?

We assume you want board members who have wisdom. By this we mean people who understand the importance of heeding your life’s calling and living and working on purpose.

Naming your purpose is the first step in your quest to working and living on purpose. In answering the question, “Who are you?” many questions usually come up. They may include:

These are the kinds of questions your Sounding Board can help you to answer.

Your Sounding Board is made up of trusted individuals who listen well and offer you courageous conversation. They may have only one thing in common—you! But they all meet the following criteria:

They’re interested (versus interesting)
They are genuinely interested in you and want to see you succeed.

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