From Networking to Net Work

I watched/listened to a webinar by Patti Anklam as part of the Community 2.0 Conference. Patti is the author of Net Work: A Practical Guide to Creating and Sustaining Networks at Work and in the World.

Patti started by thinking about whether there are sets of network properties. If so can we apply a taxonomy to them. All networks share certain properties. You can draw them and you can count the connections and map the connections. Patti pointed out that networks are not Facebook or LinkedIn. We have always had networks. Facebook and LinkedIn start exposing the network in a very visible way.

Every network has a purpose. Patti proposed five major group of purposes:

  • mission – aid and support
  • business – create economic gain
  • idea – generate and collaborate in the developing ideas
  • learning – communities of practice
  • personal – nurture emotional relationships

Patti demonstrated a few different network structures. The visual representation of a social network can often show how the communication and therefore the decision-making in the enterprise do not follow the hierarchical organizational chart. It can also show that the departure or retirement of person who may not be a key person in the organizational chart, but is a central person in the network.

For leaders, your management can be re-thought if you think about the network you are leading. For the most, part law firms are networks.

  • Network intentionally – create more connections, fill in gaps in the network, make it more collaborative and cooperative
  • Practice network stewardship – you need to pay attention to change triggers, watch the network evolve
  • Embrace and leverage technology – get the technology aligned with the network, enterprise 2.0 is aligned with a mesh network structure
  • Create a capacity for net work – encourage outreach, encourage on-boarding and incorporation into the existing network within the firm
  • Learn to use the network lens – map the idea network and see if there are artificial boundaries

Going from networking to net work, its not how many networks you participate in, its how many people you “connect” with. Think about quality and contribution. Don’t think about quantity.

In the spirit of the social network analysis I created a visualization of my Facebook friends and their relationships to each other. On the right side in green are my Facebook friends from The Firm. At the bottom in the blue and purple are my friends in the legal knowledge management and legal technology area. (Most of the Canadians got the purple label. I am not sure how it figured that out). At the left in the pink are my Facebook friends in the knowledge management area, but not in the legal industry.
The chart was generated by the TouchGraph Photos application in Facebook.

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