Professional networking

Ace your studies with our custom writing services! We've got your back for top grades and timely submissions, so you can say goodbye to the stress. Trust us to get you there!


Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper

 BY DAY 3

Post some proposed steps for building and maintaining a strong professional network, including an examination of the merits of doing so. Be sure to include the following:    

  • What are some benefits you can gain by developing your professional network? How can you be a benefit to others through professional networking? In other words, what are some ways to develop a mutually beneficial professional network?
  • Do you feel that professional networking is worth the effort?
  • What are some steps you can take to create and/or expand your professional network? Once you establish a professional network, what are some things you can do to sustain and grow your networking efforts?

Refer to the Week 7 Discussion Rubric for specific grading elements and criteria. Your Instructor will use this grading rubric to assess your work.

https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/careerservicescenter/networking/home

72 TD | August 2017

development
CAREER DEVELOPMENT

W hat word do you hear quite often in the business world, social
events, and especially when you are considering your career?
Networking. While it has become somewhat of a buzzword, it is

extremely important as a life skill.
What is networking? First, let’s talk about what it’s not: Networking is not

about collecting business cards. Rather, it is about building relationships.
A more formal definition of networking is that it’s a supportive system of

sharing information and connections among individuals having a common in-
terest. You have heard the expression that whenever we want to get something
done we can do it most effectively through people and relationships. That is
true not only when it comes to one’s career, but also in one’s personal life.

The Lifelong Pursuit of Networking

Making professional and personal connections shouldn’t be a chore.

BY AMY DINNING

P
H

O
T

O
: I

S
T

O
C

K

August 2017 | TD 73

I believe that the reason I am suc-
cessful and fulfilled in my life is
because of the network that I am
constantly building and maintaining.
Networking enables us to gain new in-
formation, find answers to challenges,
understand others’ viewpoints, de-
velop ourselves and others, and gain
new connections and friendships. We
learn and grow through these rela-
tionships and being open to what we
can experience from them.

Where to network
The truth is, we can network anywhere
and everywhere. I am always looking
for people who I can help, new infor-
mation that I can learn, ways that I can
connect people to information and
people to other people, and ways to
broaden my own horizons. Some great
examples of places to network are:

• work
• socials events
• professional associations
• networking or informal groups
• gatherings with family and friends
• children’s activities
• religious organization events
• clubs
• sporting events.

How to network
Now that you know where you can
network, how do you go about it?

First, it is important to have a mind-
set that you are always networking,
and to be prepared to do so.

If you are attending an event and
know who will be there, decide be-
forehand who you would like to
connect with. Research those individ-
uals online so you can determine what
you might have in common and top-
ics that you can discuss. Think about
questions you might ask these individ-
uals or things you want to learn from
them.

When you’re at parties or network-

ing events, be willing to break the ice
and go up to people. Usually people
are waiting for someone else to come
up to them—be that person. Be curious
and inquisitive. Ask great questions
that get people talking. Show interest
in others and what they have to share.

Take that one step further and have
something of value to share with them.
Think of ways that you can add value to
that person, such as information, di-
rection, resources, or connections.

Follow up to stay in contact with the
people you network with. Many people
meet others but never follow up, thus
losing valuable connections. Ask if you
can connect on LinkedIn and make
sure to send them a personalized invi-
tation. You might want to remind the
person what you discussed in person.

Accept that you will not have
strong connections with everyone
you meet. Identify individuals who are
power connectors and work at main-
taining those relationships.

Remember, networking is about
forming mutually beneficial relation-
ships. Make sure that both of you have
the opportunity to share, ask ques-
tions, and learn from each other.

Keeping track of your network
Develop a record-keeping system for
your network. LinkedIn is a great tool
by which to make connections, stay
connected, and find connections. You
can export your LinkedIn connec-
tions to an Excel spreadsheet, then
add notes to track information, such
as where and when you met some-
one, what information you shared with
them, who they connected you to, and
any other information that you want
to remember.

Finally, how do you maintain your
network? If you are not in contact,
those connections fade over time. Here
are several strategies you might want
to use to keep your network alive:

Be visible, both online and in person.
I post on LinkedIn, tweet or retweet,
blog, write articles, and share infor-
mation that I believe benefits others.
I also attend networking events and
professional association gatherings to
make sure that I am visible.
Connect and reconnect. When at-
tending events, my goal is to make
new connections as well as to re-
connect with people already in my
network. I want to find out what is
happening with them, how I can help
them, and also share what is happen-
ing with me.
Make a special effort with power con-

nectors. Make it a point to reconnect
with power connectors on a regu-
lar basis. You will want to keep those
relationships alive and growing to
benefit both you and your connection.
Reach out in between events. Consider
sending a newsletter to your network-
ing circle every so often to stay in
touch. If you are in job transition, this
is a critical tool in your job search tool-
kit. You can send an email, a message
through LinkedIn, or use a service such
as Constant Contact. The newsletter I
send includes my current role, how I
can help others, and how they can help
me.

You never know when you might
need your network, so it is important
to find ways to keep in contact, recon-
nect, and add value wherever possible.

I cannot put a price on the friend-
ships I have developed, knowledge
that I have gained, and the many other
benefits I have acquired as a result of
focusing on networking as a lifelong
pursuit. Plus, I believe that I have been
able to help many people through my
openness to networking.

What’s stopping you? Don’t miss
out; start networking today.

Amy Dinning is a senior training and talent

development leader; [email protected].

Copyright of TD: Talent Development is the property of Association for Talent Development
and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without
the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or
email articles for individual use.

HCM Sales, Marketing & Alliance Excellence presented by HR.com OCTOBER 2018 31 Submit Your Articles

The most successful entrepreneurs typically
have one thing in common (other than a great

business idea): They’re good at networking.

Networking is an important skill to learn for small
business owners. Some people are naturals who
can work from a room without breaking a sweat and
seem to float from conversation to conversation.
Others often do break a sweat and tread water from
conversation to conversation.

If you’re in that second group, know it does get easier
with a bit of practice and trial and error.

In order to boost your networking confidence,
try breaking up the task into three main areas:
philosophy, networking, and follow-up. Here’s how.

1. Philosophy
When it comes to networking, it’s important to step
back and remember what this is all about. At the core
of it all, you’re looking to make connections that can
potentially help you down the road. Even if someone
seems like they have nothing to offer you, treat them
as if they do. You never know who they might know.

Set a goal for yourself.
To ensure you’re actually getting out there and
networking, set a goal. It could be a target for how
many events, meetings, happy hours, etc., you’re

4 networking tips All
small Business owners
should Know

tips for those who are not good in networking

By Milan Vracarich

going to attend each month. This is especially
important if you’re reluctant and don’t like doing it.

Take opportunities.
Go to events even if they don’t seem completely on
target with what you’re doing for your business. This
could be a networking happy hour with folks outside
your industry or a speaker discussing a topic you
already know. Go to those events and meet people
who might bring up future opportunities (business
partners, customers, clients).

Look for opportunities in unexpected places.
Whether it’s at your kid’s school or community events
(fairs, holiday boutiques), places where you might
not think to talk about business could be places for
creating partnerships or garnering future sales. Make
sure you turn over every rock in your own backyard.

Treat everyone you meet as an opportunity.
Even if they can’t help you today, you never know
the contacts someone has in their Rolodex. Making
people feel important and treating everyone as a
potential opportunity can open doors you previously
didn’t have access to.

Treat everyone you meet as a friend.
Don’t be shy to introduce yourself (which can be
easier said than done). The only way to get to a point
where you’re used to meeting new people is to get
out there and shake some hands.

HCM Sales, Marketing & Alliance Excellence presented by HR.com OCTOBER 2018 32 Submit Your Articles

4 Networking Tips All Small Business Owners Should Know

Reset competitors.
Think of competitors as potential mentors. Meet
them and attempt to nurture that relationship the
same way you would with anyone else. Not all
competitors will be receptive to this but those who
are can share helpful information or become good
avenues for advice when you need it. Don’t forget to
refer customers to your competitors, but only do so
when it makes sense for you and them.

Create a support system.
Family and friends are great for helping out in a
pinch. However, it’s important to have a network
of peers and a mentor to discuss ideas, solutions,
and problems.

2. networking
You’ve got a plan and you know what you want to do.
Now it’s time to execute.

From formal networking events and business
meetings to cups of coffee, happy hours, classes,
speeches, picnics, mentorships, volunteering —
the list of networking opportunities/events is
almost endless.

If, as we mentioned above, you mentally frame
everything as a networking opportunity, you’ll be
prepared to take advantage of every interaction that
comes your way.

Here are some things to do in order to prepare
yourself as well as a few dos and don’ts.

Prepare
1. Have your elevator pitch nailed down and make it
second nature. It should be easy to explain what you
do and why you do it. For deeper conversations, it’s a
good idea to also nail down how you do it.

2. This might seem obvious, but make sure you have
business cards on you at all times. You don’t have to
carry a stack in your pocket but keep extras in your
car and bag, so you can always refill your wallet or
pocket at a moment’s notice.

3. If you go to any sort of networking event with another
person, make sure you’re not just talking to that person
all night. It’s nice to go with someone you know so you
have a home base in case you run into a lull, and they
can also introduce you to people they know.

4. Come prepared with things to talk about or
general questions you can ask other people about
themselves or their business.

5. Do your research before you go to an event.
Who will be there? What it’s all about? Will there be
snacks? Give yourself every advantage by doing
your homework.

6. Try to get a speaking spot at an event. Speaking at
an event can sometimes get you the biggest bang for
your buck. It doesn’t have to be a major conference.
Something as simple as an alumni association
event is a great chance to speak in front of others.
Not just for those who hear you speak but all of the
people after the event who come up to you for that
one-on-one time. 

Dos
1. Genuinely listen when you’ve asked a question.
Practice active listening and don’t think about what
you’re going to say next.

2. Be interested in what others have done or are
doing. When you’re at an event, you’re not just selling
yourself. Ask questions. Focus on them.

3. Be humble. Give a good handshake and dress
appropriately for the occasion. Don’t brag or try to
impress someone with money.

HCM Sales, Marketing & Alliance Excellence presented by HR.com OCTOBER 2018 33 Submit Your Articles

Don’ts
1. Don’t overindulge on free drinks. You want to
remember the connections you make, and you don’t
want to be that person at a networking event.

2. Don’t talk to someone for too long. Talk, get to
know them, exchange information if it makes sense
to do so, and then move on.

3. Don’t talk during a presentation or over a speaker.
If you’re at some sort of presentation or some
community event with a presentation component, it’s
rude to continue networking while others are trying to
pay attention.

3. follow-up
Networking isn’t a one and done thing. Once you
meet folks, it’s important to keep those relationships
going. But now that you’ve done the legwork, what’s
next? After you network, how do you keep your
network? Use social media.

Nothing beats coffee meet-ups and lunches for that
face-to-face time, but you need to keep those social
networks, so you won’t fall out of mind if you’re trying
to keep something going.

That doesn’t mean you need to post on social media
all day every day, but it’s good to stay engaged with
what others are doing. Send the occasional email,
message or comment. It’s also a good idea to share
others’ wins with your own network.

The platforms you choose to utilize for social
networking can depend on your industry.

LinkedIn, in general, is easily the best bet for small
business owners. It’s the most business-driven
platform and its sole intention is for professionals to
use it for their digital networking.

Facebook is great for networking on a deeper level.
Just be mindful that no matter how private your
profile may be, those in your network can see what
you do, screenshot it and share it publicly.

Twitter is a good platform for keeping up with current
events and industry-related influencers. It’s especially
helpful for networking at in-person conferences.

A good idea to stay informed at all times is to set
up Google alerts for your business, your industry
and some of your competitors. This will also help
with networking because you can easily share
relevant content on your social media accounts
and also congratulate competitors and industry
leaders for their successes, nourishing those
positive relationships.

4. lather, rinse, repeat
Remember to pay it forward. If someone introduces
you to some really great connections, make sure
you’re introducing them to great connections as well.
Sometimes you need to give to get.

Also, having a great network can help when you’re
ready to expand your business and hire an employee.
You can utilize these relationships to find the perfect
candidate to help run your business and take it to
new levels. Ideally, it’s someone who can take over
tasks and responsibilities that you don’t need to do
on a day-to-day basis. This will free up valuable time,
so you can focus on expanding the business and
work on expanding your network.

The whole idea of networking is cyclical. One digital
platform for finding those in-person community
events or networking opportunities is meetup.com.
You can actively engage in those online communities
and then meet with the same folks in person.
Then, go back to the top of this article and start all
over again.

This article originally appeared here.

Milan Vracarich is a Digital Marketer
with a passion for the written word.
With a background in journalism,
his focus is to always discover the
right story to align with big-picture
objectives.

Would you like to comment?

4 Networking Tips All Small Business Owners Should Know

Copyright of HCM Sales, Marketing & Alliance Excellence Essentials is the property of
HR.com, Inc. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a
listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print,
download, or email articles for individual use.

www.hbrreprints.org

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

How Leaders Create
and Use Networks

by Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter

Included with this full-text

Harvard Business Review

article:

The Idea in Brief—the core idea

The Idea in Practice—putting the idea to work

1

Article Summary

2

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

A list of related materials, with annotations to guide further

exploration of the article’s ideas and applications

9

Further Reading

Successful leaders have a nose

for opportunity and a knack

for knowing whom to tap to

get things done. These

qualities depend on a set of

strategic networking skills

that nonleaders rarely possess.

Reprint R0701C
This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

M

A N A G I N G

Y

O U R S E L F

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

page 1

The Idea in Brief The Idea in Practice

C

O
P

YR
IG

H
T

©
2

00
6

H
A

R
V

A
R

D
B

U
SI

N
E

SS
S

C
H

O
O

L
P

U
B

LI
SH

IN
G

C
O

R
P

O
R

A
T

IO
N

. A
LL

R
IG

H
T

S
R

E
SE

R
V

E
D

.

What separates successful leaders from the
rest of the pack? Networking: creating a tis-
sue of personal contacts to provide the
support, feedback, and resources needed
to get things done.

Yet many leaders avoid networking. Some
think they don’t have time for it. Others dis-
dain it as manipulative.

To succeed as a leader, Ibarra and Hunter rec-
ommend building three types of networks:

Operational

—people you need to ac-
complish your assigned, routine tasks.

Personal

—kindred spirits outside your
organization who can help you with per-
sonal advancement.

Strategic

—people outside your control
who will enable you to reach key organi-
zational objectives.

You need all three types of networks. But to

really

succeed, you must master strategic
networking—by interacting regularly with
people who can open your eyes to new
business opportunities and help you capi-
talize on them. Build your strategic net-
work, and burnish your own—and your
company’s—performance.

The most effective leaders understand the differences among the three types of networks and
how to build them.

LEVERAGING YOUR NETWORKS

Networking takes work. To lessen the pain and
increase the gain:

Mind your mind-set.

Accept that network-
ing is one of the most important require-
ments of a leadership role. To overcome any
qualms about it, identify a person you re-
spect who networks effectively and ethi-
cally. Observe how he or she uses networks
to accomplish goals.

Reallocate your time.

Master the art of del-
egation, to liberate time you can then
spend on cultivating networks.

Establish connections.

Create reasons for
interacting with people outside your func-
tion or organization; for instance, by taking
advantage of social interests to set the
stage for addressing strategic concerns.

Example:

An investment banker invited key clients to
the theatre (a passion of hers) several times
a year. Through these events, she devel-
oped her own business

and

learned things
about her clients’ companies that gener-

ated business and ideas for other divisions
in her firm.

Give and take continually.

Don’t wait until
you really need something badly to ask for
a favor from a network member. Instead,
take every opportunity to give to—and re-
ceive from—people in your networks,
whether you need help or not.

Operational network Personal network Strategic network

Network’s
purpose

Getting work done
efficiently

Develop professional
skills through coaching
and mentoring;
exchange important
referrals and needed
outside information.

Figure out future priorities
and challenges; get stake-
holder support for them.

How to find
network
members

Identify individuals
who can block or
support a project.

Participate in profes-
sional associations,
alumni groups, clubs,
and personal-interest
communities.

Identify lateral and vertical
relationships with other
functional and business-
unit managers—people
outside your immediate
control—who can help you
determine how your role
and contribution fit into
the overall picture.

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

How Leaders Create
and Use Networks

by Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter

harvard business review • january 2007 page 2

C

O
P

YR
IG

H
T

©
2

00
6

H
A

R
V

A
R

D
B

U
SI

N
E

SS
S

C
H

O
O

L
P

U
B

LI
SH

IN
G

C
O

R
P

O
R

A
T

IO
N

. A
LL

R
IG

H
T

S
R

E
SE

R
V

E
D

.

Successful leaders have a nose for opportunity and a knack for knowing

whom to tap to get things done. These qualities depend on a set of

strategic networking skills that nonleaders rarely possess.

When Henrik Balmer became the production
manager and a board member of a newly
bought-out cosmetics firm, improving his net-
work was the last thing on his mind. The main
problem he faced was time: Where would he
find the hours to guide his team through a
major upgrade of the production process and
then think about strategic issues like expand-
ing the business? The only way he could carve
out time and still get home to his family at a
decent hour was to lock himself—literally—in
his office. Meanwhile, there were day-to-day
issues to resolve, like a recurring conflict with
his sales director over custom orders that com-
promised production efficiency. Networking,
which Henrik defined as the unpleasant task
of trading favors with strangers, was a luxury
he could not afford. But when a new acquisi-
tion was presented at a board meeting with-
out his input, he abruptly realized he was out
of the loop—not just inside the company, but
outside, too—at a moment when his future in
the company was at stake.

Henrik’s case is not unusual. Over the past

two years, we have been following a cohort of
30 managers making their way through what
we call the leadership transition, an inflection
point in their careers that challenges them to
rethink both themselves and their roles. In the
process, we’ve found that networking—creating
a fabric of personal contacts who will pro-
vide support, feedback, insight, resources, and
information—is simultaneously one of the most
self-evident and one of the most dreaded de-
velopmental challenges that aspiring leaders
must address.

Their discomfort is understandable. Typi-
cally, managers rise through the ranks by dint
of a strong command of the technical elements
of their jobs and a nose-to-the-grindstone focus
on accomplishing their teams’ objectives.
When challenged to move beyond their func-
tional specialties and address strategic issues
facing the overall business, many managers do
not immediately grasp that this will involve
relational—not analytical—tasks. Nor do they
easily understand that exchanges and interac-
tions with a diverse array of current and poten-

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

harvard business review • january 2007 page 3

tial stakeholders are not distractions from
their “real work” but are actually at the heart
of their new leadership roles.

Like Henrik (whose identity we’ve dis-
guised, along with all the other managers we
describe here), a majority of the managers
we work with say that they find networking
insincere or manipulative—at best, an elegant
way of using people. Not surprisingly, for
every manager who instinctively constructs
and maintains a useful network, we see sev-
eral who struggle to overcome this innate re-
sistance. Yet the alternative to networking is
to fail—either in reaching for a leadership po-
sition or in succeeding at it.

Watching our emerging leaders approach
this daunting task, we discovered that three dis-
tinct but interdependent forms of networking—

operational, personal,

and

strategic

—played a
vital role in their transitions. The first helped
them manage current internal responsibilities,
the second boosted their personal develop-
ment, and the third opened their eyes to new
business directions and the stakeholders they
would need to enlist. While our managers dif-
fered in how well they pursued operational
and personal networking, we discovered that
almost all of them underutilized strategic net-
working. In this article, we describe key fea-
tures of each networking form (summarized in
the exhibit “The Three Forms of Networking”)
and, using our managers’ experiences, explain
how a three-pronged networking strategy can
become part and parcel of a new leader’s de-
velopment plan.

Operational Networking

All managers need to build good working rela-
tionships with the people who can help them
do their jobs. The number and breadth of peo-
ple involved can be impressive—such opera-
tional networks include not only direct re-
ports and superiors but also peers within an
operational unit, other internal players with
the power to block or support a project, and
key outsiders such as suppliers, distributors,
and customers. The purpose of this type of
networking is to ensure coordination and co-
operation among people who have to know
and trust one another in order to accomplish
their immediate tasks. That isn’t always easy,
but it is relatively straightforward, because the
task provides focus and a clear criterion for
membership in the network: Either you’re

necessary to the job and helping to get it done,
or you’re not.

Although operational networking was the
form that came most naturally to the manag-
ers we studied, nearly every one had important
blind spots regarding people and groups they
depended on to make things happen. In one
case, Alistair, an accounting manager who
worked in an entrepreneurial firm with several
hundred employees, was suddenly promoted
by the company’s founder to financial director
and given a seat on the board. He was both the
youngest and the least-experienced board
member, and his instinctive response to these
new responsibilities was to reestablish his func-
tional credentials. Acting on a hint from the
founder that the company might go public,
Alistair undertook a reorganization of the ac-
counting department that would enable the
books to withstand close scrutiny. Alistair suc-
ceeded brilliantly in upgrading his team’s capa-
bilities, but he missed the fact that only a mi-
nority of the seven-person board shared the
founder’s ambition. A year into Alistair’s ten-
ure, discussion about whether to take the com-
pany public polarized the board, and he dis-
covered that all that time cleaning up the
books might have been better spent sounding
out his codirectors.

One of the problems with an exclusive reli-
ance on operational networks is that they are
usually geared toward meeting objectives as
assigned, not toward asking the strategic ques-
tion, “What

should

we be doing?” By the same
token, managers do not exercise as much per-
sonal choice in assembling operational rela-
tionships as they do in weaving personal and
strategic networks, because to a large extent
the right relationships are prescribed by the
job and organizational structure. Thus, most
operational networking occurs within an orga-
nization, and ties are determined in large part
by routine, short-term demands. Relationships
formed with outsiders, such as board mem-
bers, customers, and regulators, are directly
task-related and tend to be bounded and con-
strained by demands determined at a higher
level. Of course, an individual manager can
choose to deepen and develop the ties to dif-
ferent extents, and all managers exercise dis-
cretion over who gets priority attention. It’s
the quality of relationships—the rapport and
mutual trust—that gives an operational net-
work its power. Nonetheless, the substantial

Herminia Ibarra

(herminia.ibarra@
insead.edu) is the Insead Chaired Pro-
fessor of Organizational Behavior at In-
sead in Fontainebleau, France, where
she also directs the Leadership Transi-
tion, an executive program for manag-
ers moving into broader leadership
roles. Her most recent book is

Working
Identity: Unconventional Strategies for
Reinventing Your Career

(Harvard Busi-
ness School Press, 2003).

Mark Hunter

([email protected]) is an inves-
tigative journalist and an adjunct pro-
fessor of communications at Insead. He
is the author of

The Passions of Men:
Work and Love in the Age of Stress

(Put-
nam, 1988).

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

harvard business review • january 2007 page 4

constraints on network membership mean these
connections are unlikely to deliver value to man-
agers beyond assistance with the task at hand.

The typical manager in our group was more
concerned with sustaining cooperation within
the existing network than with building rela-
tionships to face nonroutine or unforeseen
challenges. But as a manager moves into a
leadership role, his or her network must reori-
ent itself externally and toward the future.

Personal Networking

We observed that once aspiring leaders
like Alistair awaken to the dangers of an ex-
cessively internal focus, they begin to seek
kindred spirits outside their organizations. Si-
multaneously, they become aware of the limi-
tations of their social skills, such as a lack of
knowledge about professional domains be-
yond their own, which makes it difficult for
them to find common ground with people out-
side their usual circles. Through professional
associations, alumni groups, clubs, and per-
sonal interest communities, managers gain
new perspectives that allow them to advance
in their careers. This is what we mean by per-
sonal networking.

Many of the managers we study question

why they should spend precious time on an ac-
tivity so indirectly related to the work at hand.
Why widen one’s circle of casual acquaintances
when there isn’t time even for urgent tasks?
The answer is that these contacts provide im-
portant referrals, information, and, often, de-
velopmental support such as coaching and
mentoring. A newly appointed factory direc-
tor, for example, faced with a turnaround-or-
close-down situation that was paralyzing his
staff, joined a business organization—and
through it met a lawyer who became his coun-
sel in the turnaround. Buoyed by his success,
he networked within his company’s headquar-
ters in search of someone who had dealt with a
similar crisis. Eventually, he found two mentors.

A personal network can also be a safe space
for personal development and as such can pro-
vide a foundation for strategic networking. The
experience of Timothy, a principal in a midsize
software company, is a good example. Like his
father, Timothy stuttered. When he had the
opportunity to prepare for meetings, his stut-
ter was not an issue, but spontaneous encoun-
ters inside and outside the company were
dreadfully painful. To solve this problem, he
began accepting at least two invitations per
week to the social gatherings he had assidu-

THE THREE FORMS OF NETWORKING

Managers who think they are adept at networking are often operating only at an operational or personal level.
Effective leaders learn to employ networks for strategic purposes.

Operational

Getting work done efficiently;
maintaining the capacities and
functions required of the group.

Contacts are mostly internal and
oriented toward current demands.

Key contacts are relatively nondis-
cretionary; they are prescribed
mostly by the task and organiza-
tional structure, so it is very clear
who is relevant.

Depth: building strong working
relationships.

Personal

Enhancing personal and profes-
sional development; providing
referrals to useful information
and contacts.

Contacts are mostly external and
oriented toward current interests
and future potential interests.

Key contacts are mostly discre-
tionary; it is not always clear who
is relevant.

Breadth: reaching out to contacts
who can make referrals.

Strategic

Figuring out future priorities and
challenges; getting stakeholder
support for them.

Contacts are internal and external
and oriented toward the future.

Key contacts follow from the
strategic context and the organi-
zational environment, but specific
membership is discretionary; it is
not always clear who is relevant.

Leverage: creating inside-outside
links.

Purpose

Location and tem-
poral orientation

Players and
recruitment

Network attributes
and key behaviors

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

harvard business review • january 2007 page 5

ously ignored before. Before each event, he
asked who else had been invited and did back-
ground research on the other guests so that he
could initiate conversations. The hardest part,
he said, was “getting through the door.” Once
inside, his interest in the conversations helped
him forget himself and master his stutter. As
his stutter diminished, he also applied himself
to networking across his company, whereas
previously he had taken refuge in his technical
expertise. Like Timothy, several of our emerg-
ing leaders successfully used personal network-
ing as a relatively safe way to expose problems
and seek insight into solutions—safe, that is,
compared with strategic networking, in which
the stakes are far higher.

Personal networks are largely external,
made up of discretionary links to people with
whom we have something in common. As a re-
sult, what makes a personal network powerful
is its referral potential. According to the fa-
mous six degrees of separation principle, our
personal contacts are valuable to the extent
that they help us reach, in as few connections
as possible, the far-off person who has the in-
formation we need.

In watching managers struggle to widen
their professional relationships in ways that
feel both natural and legitimate to them, we
repeatedly saw them shift their time and en-

ergy from operational to personal networking.
For people who have rarely looked outside
their organizations, this is an important first
step, one that fosters a deeper understanding
of themselves and the environments in which
they move. Ultimately, however, personal net-
working alone won’t propel managers through
the leadership transition. Aspiring leaders may
find people who awaken new interests but fail
to become comfortable with the power players
at the level above them. Or they may achieve
new influence within a professional commu-
nity but fail to harness those ties in the service
of organizational goals. That’s why managers
who know they need to develop their network-
ing skills, and make a real effort to do so, none-
theless may end up feeling like they have
wasted their time and energy. As we’ll see, per-
sonal networking will not help a manager
through the leadership transition unless he or
she learns how to bring those connections to
bear on organizational strategy.

Strategic Networking

When managers begin the delicate transition
from functional manager to business leader,
they must start to concern themselves with
broad strategic issues. Lateral and vertical rela-
tionships with other functional and business
unit managers—all people outside their im-

From Functional Manager to Business Leader: How Companies Can Help

Executives who oversee management devel-
opment know how to spot critical inflection
points: the moments when highly successful
people must change their perspective on
what is important and, accordingly, how they
spend their time. Many organizations still
promote people on the basis of their perfor-
mance in roles whose requirements differ
dramatically from those of leadership roles.
And many new leaders feel that they are
going it alone, without coaching or guidance.
By being sensitive to the fact that most
strong technical or functional managers lack
the capabilities required to build strategic
networks that advance their personal and
professional goals, human resources and
learning professionals can take steps to help
in this important area.

For example, Genesis Park, an innovative in-
house leadership development program at

PricewaterhouseCoopers, focuses explicitly on
building networks. The five-month program,
during which participants are released from
their client responsibilities, includes business
case development, strategic projects, team
building, change management projects, and
in-depth discussions with business leaders
from inside and outside the company. The
young leaders who participate end up with a
strong internal-external nexus of ties to sup-
port them as their careers evolve.

Companies that recognize the importance
of leadership networking can also do a lot to
help people overcome their innate discomfort
by creating natural ways for them to extend
their networks. When Nissan CEO Carlos
Ghosn sought to break down crippling inter-
nal barriers at the company, he created cross-
functional teams of middle managers from di-
verse units and charged them with proposing

solutions to problems ranging from supply
costs to product design. Nissan subsequently
institutionalized the teams, not just as a way
to solve problems but also to encourage lateral
networks. Rather than avoid the extra work, as-
piring leaders ask for these assignments.

Most professional development is based on
the notion that successful people acquire new
role-appropriate skills as they move up the hi-
erarchy. But making the transition from man-
ager to leader requires subtraction as well as
addition: To make room for new competen-
cies, managers must rely less on their older,
well-honed skills. To do so, they must change
their perspective on how to add value and
what to contribute. Eventually, they must also
transform how they think and who they are.
Companies that help their top talent reinvent
themselves will better prepare them for a suc-
cessful leadership transition.

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

harvard business review • january 2007 page 6

mediate control—become a lifeline for figur-
ing out how their own contributions fit into
the big picture. Thus strategic networking
plugs the aspiring leader into a set of relation-
ships and information sources that collectively
embody the power to achieve personal and or-
ganizational goals.

Operating beside players with diverse affilia-
tions, backgrounds, objectives, and incentives
requires a manager to formulate business
rather than functional objectives, and to work
through the coalitions and networks needed to
sell ideas and compete for resources. Consider
Sophie, a manager who, after rising steadily
through the ranks in logistics and distribution,
was stupefied to learn that the CEO was con-
sidering a radical reorganization of her func-
tion that would strip her of some responsibili-
ties. Rewarded to date for incremental annual
improvements, she had failed to notice shifting
priorities in the wider market and the resulting
internal shuffle for resources and power at the
higher levels of her company. Although she
had built a loyal, high-performing team, she
had few relationships outside her group to
help her anticipate the new imperatives, let
alone give her ideas about how to respond.
After she argued that distribution issues were
her purview, and failed to be persuasive, she
hired consultants to help her prepare a coun-
terproposal. But Sophie’s boss simply con-
cluded that she lacked a broad, longer-term
business perspective. Frustrated, Sophie con-
templated leaving the company. Only after
some patient coaching from a senior manager
did she understand that she had to get out of
her unit and start talking to opinion leaders in-
side and outside the company to form a sell-
able plan for the future.

What differentiates a leader from a man-
ager, research tells us, is the ability to figure
out where to go and to enlist the people and
groups necessary to get there. Recruiting stake-
holders, lining up allies and sympathizers, di-
agnosing the political landscape, and broker-
ing conversations among unconnected parties
are all part of a leader’s job. As they step up to
the leadership transition, some managers ac-
cept their growing dependence on others and
seek to transform it into mutual influence.
Others dismiss such work as “political” and, as
a result, undermine their ability to advance
their goals.

Several of the participants in our sample

chose the latter approach, justifying their
choice as a matter of personal values and integ-
rity. In one case, Jody, who managed a depart-
ment in a large company under what she de-
scribed as “dysfunctional” leadership, refused
even to try to activate her extensive network
within the firm when internal adversaries took
over key functions of her unit. When we asked
her why she didn’t seek help from anyone in
the organization to stop this coup, she replied
that she refused to play “stupid political
games….You can only do what you think is the
ethical and right thing from your perspective.”
Stupid or not, those games cost her the respect
and support of her direct reports and cowork-
ers, who hesitated to follow someone they per-
ceived as unwilling to defend herself. Eventu-
ally she had no choice but to leave.

The key to a good strategic network is lever-
age: the ability to marshal information, sup-
port, and resources from one sector of a net-
work to achieve results in another. Strategic
networkers use indirect influence, convincing
one person in the network to get someone
else, who is not in the network, to take a needed
action. Moreover, strategic networkers don’t
just influence their relational environment;
they shape it in their own image by moving
and hiring subordinates, changing suppliers
and sources of financing, lobbying to place al-
lies in peer positions, and even restructuring
their boards to create networks favorable to
their business goals. Jody abjured such tactics,
but her adversaries did not.

Strategic networking can be difficult for
emerging leaders because it absorbs a signifi-
cant amount of the time and energy that man-
agers usually devote to meeting their many op-
erational demands. This is one reason why
many managers drop their strategic network-
ing precisely when they need it most: when
their units are in trouble and only outside sup-
port can rescue them. The trick is not to hide
in the operational network but to develop it
into a more strategic one.

One manager we studied, for example, used
lateral and functional contacts throughout his
firm to resolve tensions with his boss that re-
sulted from substantial differences in style and
strategic approaches between the two. Tied
down in operational chores at a distant loca-
tion, the manager had lost contact with head-
quarters. He resolved the situation by simulta-
neously obliging his direct reports to take on

As a manager moves into

a leadership role, his or

her network must

reorient itself externally

and toward the future.

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

harvard business review • january 2007 page 7

more of the local management effort and send-
ing messages through his network that would
help bring him back into the loop with the boss.

Operational, personal, and strategic networks
are not mutually exclusive. One manager we
studied used his personal passion, hunting, to
meet people from professions as diverse as
stonemasonry and household moving. Almost
none of these hunting friends had anything to
do with his work in the consumer electronics
industry, yet they all had to deal with one of
his own daily concerns: customer relations.
Hearing about their problems and techniques
allowed him to view his own from a different
perspective and helped him define principles
that he could test in his work. Ultimately, what
began as a personal network of hunting part-
ners became operationally and strategically
valuable to this manager. The key was his abil-
ity to build inside-outside links for maximum
leverage. But we’ve seen others who avoided
networking, or failed at it, because they let in-
terpersonal chemistry, not strategic needs, de-
termine which relationships they cultivated.

Just Do It

The word “work” is part of networking, and it is
not easy work, because it involves reaching out-
side the borders of a manager’s comfort zone.
How, then, can managers lessen the pain and
increase the gain? The trick is to leverage the
elements from each domain of networking into
the others—to seek out personal contacts who
can be objective, strategic counselors, for exam-
ple, or to transform colleagues in adjacent func-
tions into a constituency. Above all, many man-
agers will need to change their attitudes about
the legitimacy and necessity of networking.

Mind your mind-set.

In our ongoing discus-
sions with managers learning to improve their
networking skills, we often hear, “That’s all
well and good, but I already have a day job.”
Others, like Jody, consider working through
networks a way to rely on “whom you know”
rather than “what you know”—a hypocritical,
even unethical way to get things done. What-
ever the reason, when aspiring leaders do not
believe that networking is one of the most im-
portant requirements of their new jobs, they
will not allocate enough time and effort to see
it pay off.

The best solution we’ve seen to this trap is a
good role model. Many times, what appears to
be unpalatable or unproductive behavior takes

on a new light when a person you respect does
it well and ethically. For example, Gabriel Che-
nard, general manager for Europe of a group
of consumer product brands, learned from the
previous general manager how to take advan-
tage of branch visits to solidify his relationships
with employees and customers. Every flight and
car trip became a venue for catching up and
building relationships with the people who
were accompanying him. Watching how much
his boss got done on what would otherwise be
downtime, Gabriel adopted the practice as a
crucial part of his own management style. Net-
working effectively and ethically, like any other
tacit skill, is a matter of judgment and intu-
ition. We learn by observing and getting feed-
back from those for whom it’s second nature.

Work from the outside in.

One of the most
daunting aspects of strategic networking is
that there often seems to be no natural “ex-
cuse” for making contact with a more senior
person outside one’s function or business unit.
It’s difficult to build a relationship with any-
one, let alone a senior executive, without a
reason for interacting, like a common task or a
shared purpose.

Some successful managers find common
ground from the outside in—by, for instance,
transposing a personal interest into the strate-
gic domain. Linda Henderson is a good exam-
ple. An investment banker responsible for a
group of media industry clients, she always
wondered how to connect to some of her se-
nior colleagues who served other industries.
She resolved to make time for an extracurricu-
lar passion—the theater—in a way that would
enhance her business development activities.
Four times a year, her secretary booked a buf-
fet dinner at a downtown hotel and reserved a
block of theater tickets. Key clients were in-
vited. Through these events, Linda not only de-
veloped her own business but also learned
about her clients’ companies in a way that gen-
erated ideas for other parts of her firm, thus
enabling her to engage with colleagues.

Other managers build outside-inside connec-
tions by using their functional interests or ex-
pertise. For example, communities of practice
exist (or can easily be created on the Internet)
in almost every area of business from brand
management to Six Sigma to global strategy.
Savvy managers reach out to kindred spirits
outside their organizations to contribute and
multiply their knowledge; the information they

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

M

ANAGING

Y

OURSELF

harvard business review • january 2007 page 8

glean, in more cases than not, becomes the
“hook” for making internal connections.

Re-allocate your time.

If an aspiring leader
has not yet mastered the art of delegation, he
or she will find many reasons not to spend
time networking. Participating in formal and
informal meetings with people in other units
takes time away from functional responsibili-
ties and internal team affairs. Between the ob-
vious payoff of a task accomplished and the
ambiguous, often delayed rewards of network-
ing, naive managers repeatedly choose the
former. The less they practice networking, the
less efficient at it they become, and the vicious
cycle continues.

Henrik, the production manager and board
member we described earlier, for example, did
what he needed to do in order to prepare for
board meetings but did not associate with fellow
board members outside those formal events. As
a result, he was frequently surprised when other
board members raised issues at the heart of his
role. In contrast, effective business leaders spend
a lot of time every day gathering the informa-
tion they need to meet their goals, relying on
informal discussions with a lot of people who
are not necessarily in charge of an issue or task.
They network in order to obtain information
continually, not just at formal meetings.

Ask and you shall receive.

Many managers
equate having a good network with having a
large database of contacts, or attending high-
profile professional conferences and events. In
fact, we’ve seen people kick off a networking
initiative by improving their record keeping or
adopting a network management tool. But
they falter at the next step—picking up the
phone. Instead, they wait until they need
something

badly

. The best networkers do ex-
actly the opposite: They take every opportu-
nity to give to, and receive from, the network,
whether they need help or not.

A network lives and thrives only when it is
used. A good way to begin is to make a simple
request or take the initiative to connect two
people who would benefit from meeting each
other. Doing something—anything—gets the
ball rolling and builds confidence that one
does, in fact, have something to contribute.

Stick to it.

It takes a while to reap the bene-
fits of networking. We have seen many manag-
ers resolve to put networking at the top of
their agendas, only to be derailed by the first

crisis that comes along. One example is Harris
Roberts, a regulatory affairs expert who realized
he needed a broader network to achieve his
goal of becoming a business unit manager. To
force himself into what felt like an “unnatural
act,” Harris volunteered to be the liaison for
his business school cohort’s alumni network.
But six months later, when a major new-drug
approval process overwhelmed his calendar,
Harris dropped all outside activities. Two
years later, he found himself out of touch and
still a functional manager. He failed to recog-
nize that by not taking the time to attend in-
dustry conferences or compare notes with his
peers, he was missing out on the strategic per-
spective and information that would make him
a more attractive candidate for promotion.

Building a leadership network is less a mat-
ter of skill than of will. When first efforts do
not bring quick rewards, some may simply con-
clude that networking isn’t among their tal-
ents. But networking is not a talent; nor does it
require a gregarious, extroverted personality. It
is a skill, one that takes practice. We have seen
over and over again that people who work at
networking can learn not only how to do it
well but also how to enjoy it. And they tend to
be more successful in their careers than those
who fail to leverage external ties or insist on
defining their jobs narrowly.

Making a successful leadership transition re-
quires a shift from the confines of a clearly de-
fined operational network. Aspiring leaders
must learn to build and use strategic networks
that cross organizational and functional bound-
aries, and then link them up in novel and inno-
vative ways. It is a challenge to make the leap
from a lifetime of functional contributions and
hands-on control to the ambiguous process of
building and working through networks. Lead-
ers must find new ways of defining themselves
and develop new relationships to anchor and
feed their emerging personas. They must also
accept that networking is one of the most im-
portant requirements of their new leadership
roles and continue to allocate enough time
and effort to see it pay off.

Reprint R0701C

To order, see the next page
or call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500
or go to www.hbrreprints.org

Savvy managers reach

out to kindred spirits

outside their

organizations to

contribute and multiply

their knowledge; the

information they glean,

in more cases than not,

becomes the “hook” for

making internal

connections.

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

M

A N A G I N G

Y

O U R S E L F

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

To Order

For

Harvard Business Review

reprints and
subscriptions, call 800-988-0886 or
617-783-7500. Go to www.hbrreprints.org

For customized and quantity orders of

Harvard Business Review

article reprints,
call 617-783-7626, or e-mai
[email protected]

page 9

Further Reading

A R T I C L E S

Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the
Formation of Social Networks

by Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo

Harvard Business Review

June 2005
Product no. R0506E

Operational networks pose a dilemma: Do you
collaborate on a key project with those col-
leagues best able to do the job? Or those you
like? Many managers opt for likeability over
ability. True, good things happen when people
who like each other collaborate: Projects flow,
and people gladly help each other. But people
who like each other typically share values and
ways of thinking, so they tend not to generate
fresh ideas. They also avoid unpleasant but able
colleagues—leaving the expertise of “compe-
tent jerks” untapped.

The solution? Support development of posi-
tive feelings in critical relationships; for exam-
ple, by creating cross-departmental project
teams to deemphasize functional alliances.
Have widely liked individuals serve as evange-
lists for important change initiatives: people
listen to likeable colleagues. And use coach-
ing to burnish competent jerks’ social skills.

How to Build Your Network

by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap

Harvard Business Review

December 2005
Product no. R0512B

The authors provide insights for building your
personal network—and transforming it into a
more strategic network. A strong personal
network helps promote and execute a prom-
ising strategy by delivering private informa-
tion, access to diverse skill sets, and power to
the individuals who can implement the plan.
But your personal network doesn’t just spring
into existence at professional association
meetings or college reunions. You have to
carefully construct it through relatively high-
stakes activities that bring you into contact
with a diverse group of people. When some-
one in one cluster of like-minded people
within your personal network knows some-
one else who belongs to a whole different
group, this “superconnector” can help you ex-
pose your idea to a new world, filled with
fresh opportunities for success. The authors
explain how to identify superconnectors and
diversify your contacts.

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

HBR.ORG July–AuGust 2013
reprinT r1307D

Spotlight oN iNFlUENCE

The Network
Secrets of Great
Change Agents
by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

The Network
Secrets of Great
Change Agents

by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro

Spotlight Artwork Jessica Snow
Louis II, 2010, acrylic on paper
13.5″ x 11.5″

ChANgE iS hArd, especially in a large organization.
Numerous studies have shown that employees tend
instinctively to oppose change initiatives because
they disrupt established power structures and ways
of getting things done. However, some leaders do
succeed—often spectacularly—at transforming their
workplaces. What makes them able to exert this
sort of influence when the vast majority can’t? So
many organizations are contemplating turnarounds,
restructurings, and strategic shifts these days that
it’s essential to understand what successful change
agents do differently. We set out to gain that insight
by focusing on organizations in which size, complex-
ity, and tradition make it exceptionally difficult to
achieve reform.

There is perhaps no better example than the
UK’s National Health Service. Established in 1946,
the NHS is an enormous, government-run institu-
tion that employs more than a million people in
hundreds of units and divisions with deeply rooted,
bureaucratic, hierarchical systems. Yet, like other
organizations, the NHS has many times attempted
to improve the quality, reliability, effectiveness, and

Copyright © 2013 harvard Business sChool puBlishing Corporation. all rights reserved.

Spotlight on influenCe

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

July–August 2013 harvard Business review 3

For arTicle reprinTs call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500, or visiT hbr.org

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

value of its services. A recent effort spawned hun-
dreds of initiatives. For each one, a clinical man-
ager—that is, a manager with a background in health
care, such as a doctor or a nurse—was responsible for
implementation in his or her workplace.

In tracking 68 of these initiatives for one year
after their inception, we discovered some striking
predictors of change agents’ success. The short story
is that their personal networks—their relationships
with colleagues—were critical. More specifically, we
found that:

1. Change agents who were central in the orga-
nization’s informal network had a clear advantage,
regardless of their position in the formal hierarchy.

2. People who bridged disconnected groups and
individuals were more effective at implementing
dramatic reforms, while those with cohesive net-
works were better at instituting minor changes.

3. Being close to “fence-sitters,” who were am-
bivalent about a change, was always beneficial. But
close relationships with resisters were a double-

edged sword: Such ties helped change agents push
through minor initiatives but hindered major change
attempts.

We’ve seen evidence of these phenomena at work
in a variety of organizations and industries, from law
firms and consultancies to manufacturers and soft-
ware companies. These three network “secrets” can
be useful for any manager, in any position, trying to
effect change in his or her organization.

You Can’t do it without the Network
Formal authority is, of course, an important source
of influence. Previous research has shown how dif-
ficult it is for people at the bottom of a typical orga-
nization chart—complete with multiple functional
groups, hierarchical levels, and prescribed reporting
lines—to drive change. But most scholars and practi-
tioners now also recognize the importance of the in-
formal influence that can come from organizational
networks. The exhibit at left shows both types of re-
lationships among the employees in a unit of a large
company. In any group, formal structure and infor-
mal networks coexist, each influencing how people
get their jobs done. But when it comes to change
agents, our study shows that network centrality is
critical to success, whether you’re a middle manager
or a high-ranking boss.

Consider John, one of the NHS change agents we
studied. He wanted to set up a nurse-led preopera-
tive assessment service that would free up time for
the doctors who previously led the assessments, re-
duce cancelled operations (and costs), and improve
patient care. Although John was a senior doctor,
near the top of the hospital’s formal hierarchy, he
had joined the organization less than a year earlier
and was not yet well connected internally. As he
started talking to other doctors and to nurses about
the change, he encountered a lot of resistance. He
was about to give up when Carol, a well-respected
nurse, offered to help. She had much less seniority
than John, but many colleagues relied on her advice
about navigating hospital politics. She knew many
of the people whose support John needed, and she
eventually converted them to the change.

Another example comes from Gustaf, an equity
partner at a U.S. law firm, and Penny, his associ-
ate. Gustaf was trying to create a client-file transfer
system to ensure continuity in client service during
lawyers’ absences. But his seniority was no help in
getting other lawyers to support the initiative; they
balked at the added coordination the system re-

FormAl
hiErArChY lukAs

EmmA NAtHAN VikRAm

JAck sOfiA mAx miGuEl sARA Ji-HuN JOsH ANNE BEN liNA

NAtHAN

sARA

lukAs

mAx

JAck

sOfiA

EmmA VikRAm

JOsH

liNA

BEN
ANNE

miGuEl
Ji-HuN

iNFormAl
NEtwork

in the formal hierarchy of one unit in a large company, lukas holds the most senior
position, while Josh is at the bottom of the pyramid. But, as the informal network
diagram shows, many people seek Josh out for advice, making him more central to
the network than lukas and thus highly influential.

4  harvard Business review July–August 2013

Spotlight on influenCe

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

quired. That all changed when Penny took on the
project. Because colleagues frequently sought her
out for advice and respected her judgment, making
her central to the company’s informal network, she
quickly succeeded in persuading people to adopt
the new system. She reached out to stakeholders
individually, with both substantive and personal
arguments. Because they liked her and saw her as
knowledgeable and authentic, they listened to her.

It’s no shock that centrally positioned people like
Carol and Penny make successful change agents; we
know that informal connections give people access
to information, knowledge, opportunities, and per-
sonal support, and thus the ability to mobilize oth-
ers. But we were surprised in our research by how
little formal authority mattered relative to network
centrality; among the middle and senior managers
we studied, high rank did not improve the odds that
their changes would be adopted. That’s not to say
hierarchy isn’t important—in most organizations it
is. But our findings indicate that people at any level
who wish to exert influence as change agents should
be central to the organization’s informal network.

the Shape of Your Network matters
Network position matters. But so does network
type. In a cohesive network, the people you are con-
nected to are connected to one another. This can be
advantageous because social cohesion leads to high
levels of trust and support. Information and ideas
are corroborated through multiple channels, maxi-
mizing understanding, so it’s easier to coordinate
the group. And people are more likely to be consis-
tent in their words and deeds since they know that
discrepancies will be spotted. In a bridging network,
by contrast, you are connected to people who aren’t
connected to one another. There are benefits to that,
too, because you get access to novel information and
knowledge instead of hearing the same things over

and over again. You control when and how you pass
information along. And you can adapt your message
for different people in the network because they’re
unlikely to talk to one another.

Which type of network is better for implementing
change? The answer is an academic’s favorite: It de-
pends. It depends on how much the change causes
the organization to diverge from its institutional
norms or traditional ways of getting work done, and
how much resistance it generates as a result.

Consider, for instance, an NHS attempt to trans-
fer some responsibility for patient discharge from
doctors to nurses. This is a divergent change: It vio-
lates the deeply entrenched role division that gives
doctors full authority over such decisions. In the le-
gal profession, a divergent change might be to use a
measure other than billable hours to determine com-
pensation. In academia, it might involve the elimi-
nation of tenure. Such changes require dramatic
shifts in values and practices that have been taken
for granted. A nondivergent change builds on rather
than disrupts existing norms and practices. Many of
the NHS initiatives we studied were nondivergent
in that they aimed to give even more power to doc-
tors—for example, by putting them in charge of new
quality-control systems.

A cohesive network works well when the change
is not particularly divergent. Most people in the
change agent’s network will trust his or her inten-
tions. Those who are harder to convince will be
pressured by others in the network to cooperate and
will probably give in because the change is not too
disruptive. But for more-dramatic transformations,
a bridging network works better—first, because un-
connected resisters are less likely to form a coalition;
and second, because the change agent can vary the
timing and framing of messages for different con-
tacts, highlighting issues that speak to individuals’
needs and goals.

idea in brief
tHE QuEstiON 
large organizations—and the people work-
ing in them—tend to resist change. yet
some people are remarkably successful
at leading transformation efforts. What
makes them so effective?

tHE REsEARcH
an in-depth analysis of change initiatives at
the uK’s national health service revealed
that the likelihood of adoption often de-
pended on three characteristics of change
agents’ networks of informal relationships.

tHE fiNdiNGs
Change agents were more successful in the
following situations:

• when they were central in the informal
network, regardless of their position in the
formal hierarchy;

• when the nature of their network
(either bridging or cohesive) matched the
type of change they were pursuing; and

• when they had close relationships with
fence-sitters, or people ambivalent about
the change.

CohESivE
NEtwork
the people in your network
are connected to one an-
other. this builds trust and
mutual support, facilitat-
ing communication and
coordination.

bridgiNg
NEtwork
your network contacts
are not connected to one
another. you are the bridge
between disparate individu-
als and groups, giving you
control over what, when,
and how you communicate
with them.

AlEx

cHRis

July–August 2013 harvard Business review 5

For arTicle reprinTs call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500, or visiT hbr.org

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

diagnose your network
how central am i in my
organization’s informal network?
Ask yourself: “Do people come to me for
work-related advice?” When colleagues
rely on you, it signals that they trust you
and respect your competence, wisdom, and
influence.

Ask yourself: “Are my network contacts con-
nected to one another?” You may not be able
to answer this question with 100% accuracy,
but it is worth investigating. Your network
type can affect your success.

do i have a cohesive or a bridging
network?

Ask yourself: “Who in my network is ambivalent
about a proposed change and who is strongly
opposed to it?” If it’s not obvious where your
contacts stand, use the OAR principle—observe,
analyze, record—to sort them into groups. Pay
attention to how people behave; ask questions,
both direct and indirect, to gauge their senti-
ments; and keep a mental record of your obser-
vations. Research shows that managers can learn
to map the networks around them—and network
insight is, in itself, a source of power.

which influential fence-sitters
and resisters am i close to?

Consider, for instance, an NHS nurse who imple-
mented the change in discharge decision authority,
described above, in her hospital. She explained how
her connections to managers, other nurses, and doc-
tors helped her tailor and time her appeals for each
constituency:

“I first met with the management of the hospital
to secure their support. I insisted that nurse-led dis-
charge would help us reduce waiting times for pa-
tients, which was one of the key targets that the gov-
ernment had set. I then focused on nurses. I wanted
them to understand how important it was to in-
crease their voice in the hospital and to demonstrate
how they could contribute to the organizational
agenda. Once I had their full support, I turned to doc-
tors. I expected that they would stamp their feet and
dig their heels in. To overcome their resistance, I in-
sisted that the new discharge process would reduce
their workload, thereby enabling them to focus on
complex cases and ensure quicker patient turnover.”

By contrast, another nurse, who led the same ini-
tiative at her hospital, admitted that she was handi-
capped by her cohesive network: Instead of support-
ing her, the key stakeholders she knew quickly joined
forces against the effort. She never overcame their
resistance.

The cases of two NHS managers, both of whom
had to convince colleagues of the merits of a new
computerized booking system (a nondivergent
change), are also telling. Martin, who had a cohesive
network, succeeded in just a few months because his
contacts trusted him and one another, even if they
were initially reluctant to make the switch. But Rob-
ert, whose bridging network meant that his key con-
tacts weren’t connected to one another, struggled for
more than six months to build support.

We’ve observed these patterns in other organiza-
tions and industries. Sanjay, the CTO of a software
company, wanted his R&D department to embrace
open innovation and collaborate with outside groups

An executive whose informal network isn’t right
for the change initiative can appoint a “cochair”
whose relationships offer a better fit.

6  harvard Business review July–August 2013

Spotlight on influenCe

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

rather than work strictly in-house, as it had always
done. Since joining the company four years earlier,
Sanjay had developed relationships with people in
various siloed departments. His bridging network al-
lowed him to tailor his proposal to each audience. For
the CFO, he emphasized lower product development
costs; for the VP of sales, the ability to reduce devel-
opment time and adapt more quickly to client needs;
for the marketing director, the resources that could
flow into his department; for his own team, a chance
to outsource some R&D and focus only on the most
enriching projects.

Change agents must be sure that the shape of their
networks suits the type of change they want to pur-
sue. If there’s a mismatch, they can enlist people with
not just the right skills and competencies but also the
right kind of network to act on their behalf. We have
seen executives use this approach very successfully
by appointing a change initiative “cochair” whose re-
lationships offer a better fit.

keep Fence-Sitters Close and
beware of resisters
We know from past research that identifying influ-
ential people who can convert others is crucial for
successful change. Organizations generally include
three types of people who can enable or block an ini-
tiative: endorsers, who are positive about the change;
resisters, who take a purely negative view; and fence-
sitters, who see both potential benefits and potential
drawbacks.

Which of these people should change agents be
close to—that is, share a personal relationship built
on mutual trust, liking, and a sense of social obliga-
tion? Should they follow the old adage “Keep your
friends close and your enemies closer”? Or focus, as
politicians often do, on the swing voters, assuming
that the resisters are a lost cause? These questions
are important; change initiatives deplete both en-
ergy and time, so you have to choose your battles.

Again, our research indicates that the answers
often depend on the type of change. We found that
being close to endorsers has no impact on the suc-
cess of either divergent or nondivergent change. Of
course, identifying champions and enlisting their
help is absolutely crucial to your success. But deep-
ening your relationships with them will not make
them more engaged and effective. If people like a
new idea, they will help enable it whether they are
close to you or not. Several NHS change agents we in-
terviewed were surprised to see doctors and nurses

they hardly knew become advocates purely because
they believed in the initiative.

With fence-sitters, the opposite is true. Being
personally close to them can tip their influence in
your favor no matter the type of change—they see
not only drawbacks but also benefits, and they will
be reluctant to disappoint a friend.

As for resisters, there is no universal rule; again,
it depends on how divergent the change is and the
intensity of the opposition to it. Because resis-
tance is not always overt or even conscious, change
agents must watch closely and infer people’s atti-
tudes. For nondivergent initiatives, close relation-
ships with resisters present an opportunity—their
sense of social obligation may cause them to re-
think the issue. But in the case of divergent change,
resisters typically perceive a significant threat and
are much less susceptible to social pressure. It’s
also important to note that the relationship works
both ways: Change agents might be reluctant to
pursue an initiative that’s opposed by people they
trust. They might decide that the emotional cost is
too high.

An NHS clinical manager who failed in her effort
to transfer responsibility for a rehabilitation unit
from a physician to a physiotherapist—a divergent
change—described her feelings this way: “Some of
my colleagues with whom I had worked for a long
time continued to oppose the project. Mary, whom
I’ve known forever, thought that it was not a good
idea. It was a bit hard on me.”

By contrast, a doctor who launched the same
initiative in her organization did not try to convert
resisters but instead focused on fence-sitters. This
strategy was effective. As one of her initially ambiva-
lent colleagues explained, “She came to me early on
and asked me to support her. I know her well, and I

+

–+

lO
w

H

iG
H

BRidGiNG cOHEsiVE
NEtwork tYpE

Ch
A

N
g

E
d

iv
Er

g
EN

CE

mAtCh YoUr NEtwork
to thE tYpE oF ChANgE
YoU’rE pUrSUiNg

CoNSidEr how bEiNg CloSE
to iNFlUENCErS CAN AFFECt
YoUr SUCCESS

+ –

++

ENdORsERs
fENcE-
sittERs REsistERs

NO
impAct

NO
impAct

lO
w

H

iG
H

Ch
A

N
g

E
d

iv
Er

g
EN

CE

iNFlUENCErS

July–August 2013 harvard Business review 7

For arTicle reprinTs call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500, or visiT hbr.org

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

like her. I could not be one of the people who would
prevent her from succeeding.”

Similarly, John, a member of the operating com-
mittee of a boutique investment bank, initiated a re-
balancing of traditional end-of-year compensation
with a deferred component that linked pay to longer-
term performance—a particularly divergent change
in small banks that rely on annual bonus schemes
to attract talent. His close relationships with several
fence-sitters enabled him to turn them into propo-
nents. He also heard out the resisters in his network.
But having concluded that the change was needed,
he maintained his focus by keeping them at a dis-
tance until the new system had the green light.

The important point is to be mindful of your rela-
tionships with influencers. Being close to endorsers
certainly won’t hurt, but it won’t make them more
engaged, either. Fence-sitters can always help, so
make time to take them out to lunch, express an au-
thentic interest in their opinions, and find similari-
ties with them in order to build goodwill and com-
mon purpose. Handle resisters with care: If you’re
pursuing a disruptive initiative, you probably won’t
change their mind—but they might change yours. By
all means, hear them out in order to understand their

opposition; the change you’re pursuing may in fact
be wrongheaded. But if you’re still convinced of its
importance, keep resisters at arm’s length.

All thrEE of our findings underscore the importance
of networks in influencing change. First, formal
authority may give you the illusion of power, but
informal networks always matter, whether you are
the boss or a middle manager. Second, think about
what kind of network you have—or your appointed
change agent has—and make sure it matches the type
of change you’re after. A bridging network helps drive
divergent change; a cohesive network is preferable
for nondivergent change. Third, always identify and
cultivate fence-sitters, but handle resisters on a case-
by-case basis. We saw clear evidence that these three
network factors dramatically improved NHS manag-
ers’ odds of successfully implementing all kinds of
reforms. We believe they can do the same for change
agents in a wide variety of organizations.

hbr reprint r1307d

how wE
CoNdUCtEd
thE StUdY
our findings are based
on in-depth studies of 68
change initiatives over
12 months at the uK’s
national health service
(nhs). We began by
mapping the formal rank
and informal networks
of the middle and
senior clinical manag-
ers spearheading the
changes. data on their
demographics, posi-
tion, and professional
trajectories came from
their curriculum vitae
and nhs human resource
records, while informal
network data came from
surveys, field visits, and
interviews with them and
their colleagues. We then
gathered data about the
content and adoption
rates of the initiatives
through field visits, inter-
views, telephone surveys
conducted 12 months af-
ter implementation, and
qualitative assessments
from colleagues who
had either collaborated
with the change agents
or observed them in the
workplace.

Julie battilana is an associate professor of organiza-
tional behavior at harvard Business school. tiziana

Casciaro is an associate professor of organizational behavior
at the university of toronto’s rotman school of Management.

“isn’t there a sports metaphor that would explain this?”

Ca
rt

o
o

n
: K

aa
M

ra
n

h
af

ee
z

8  harvard Business review July–August 2013

Spotlight on influenCe For arTicle reprinTs call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500, or visiT hbr.org

This document is authorized for use only by Yaina Delgado in Dynamic Leadership-Summer 2023 at Walden University (Canvas), 2023.

Writerbay.net

Looking for top-notch essay writing services? We've got you covered! Connect with our writing experts today. Placing your order is easy, taking less than 5 minutes. Click below to get started.


Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper