Placing VALUE in personal networks

Time of the Social Bloom

As a social weaver, I think often about my networks.  I do invest 10% of my time daily into reading, sharing and reaching out via the post office, phone, email, Word Press, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and other networks to cultivate and nurture them.  Certainly this has become a bit more challenging over the years with the complexity of tools, interfaces and compatibility that makes it more challenging.  So what I try to do is the following:

1.)   Create a system and back it up for you to capture all your key and/or tier one connections in your network.

2.)   Flex your documentation muscles as details matter.  Take time to document key information around your networks preferred interaction styles, preferences and likes so that you can remember names of family members, businesses, awards, alma mater, etc.

3.)   Be authentic.  Take the time to send hand written thank you notes, send flowers, books and/or hand deliver a meal.  All of the personal time investment is going away with the speed the internet has given us, so now is the time to re-invest this savings into things that really matter.

4.)   Give a Hoot.  Personally I’ve found that by allowing the twitter application to connect with LI, FB and vice versa, my social networks get these updates and can customize their personal view as needed.  I currently use Hootsuite to aggregate my twitter streams as it has an easy to use platform and a community based approach to support.

5.)   Invest in your purpose per network.  Take the time invest in yourself, your brand or simply hire a social media advisor to partner on your purpose and plan.

Someone recently asked me about the ‘size of my current network’?  I wasn’t sure how to answer this question at first since it really depends, right?  Immediately, I then started to analyze how social has changed the dialogue, the language and currency we use.

This notion of a social net worth is an akin to a financial portfolio.

In the future, perhaps we will be asked when applying for either a loan, credit card or job what the range of a ‘social value’ score that not only help them determine risk, but perhaps what someone views as a social investment.  Truly fascinating how these social analytics are becoming game changers.  As with anything, the public verus private ‘number’ will be something people yearn to acquire.

Management Turkeys? Don’t let um get you down!

“Don’t let the Management Turkeys Get you Down” – Yes, that is right, don’t go there girlfriend.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever been fired from a job? 
  • Experienced a painful re-organization?

    Sandra Boyton
  • Endured incompetent leadership?
  • Frustrated your dream company had or has a toxic culture?
  • Tired that the white male dominated board of directors put people last?

Well – you are NOT alone.  Many of us have walked this road several times over.  If you are one of us trying to walk it, or even riding your bike on and off road, what I feel you need to know is that you must listen to that inner voice and share your observations, document them and stay focused on what really matters to you.    I realize this is hard to do during these difficult times, but it’s indeed the only way through the tunnel, the pass or down the street.  It doesn’t mean we cannot get off the bike, the trail or the course – what I’m trying to convey is that we do have choices that may not feel like choices financially or otherwise.  But we have a conscious opportunity to treat people with dignity and respect and behave in a manner that we all deserve to be treated.   When I’ve been fired, I found that we do need to grieve and be frustrated.  It’s normal and important to process all the feelings.  I find that it is important to scream, be irritated, punch something, complain and release it.  What have given me the most strength are my principles, my soul and my value structure.  Take this time to be the statue that represents all those things.  Live with integrity, transform the negative into redemption.  Take the moments when those feelings start, try to use this energy to nurture and focus on yourself during this lonely time where you will need to remember that it’s actually your time to shine with your principles and value structure.  For goodness sake, it’s only a job.  It’s not your identity.  Yes, I know, it is inconvenient   – but with laser focus – a positive attitude and a network for support.  This too will pass.  After all, it’s a good time to dig deep inside you for new inspiration.

Thanks to HBR for sharing the focus in their recent series on failure and a shout out to the Sandra Boyton inspired coffee cup sayings.

Women Helping Women: Positive Conspiracies of Change

Zazzle mousepad

I had the great honor recently of facilitating a high-level discussion at Executive Networks between Dr. Marcia Reynolds, best-selling author of ‘Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Achieve Contentment’ and senior women leaders from large corporations. The discussion turned to women’s support to each other, and the popular myth that women just don’t help other women in their careers in today’s organizations. The pervasive belief that women who make it to the top pull the ladder up after themselves and somehow act to prevent other women from getting ahead  was firmly dispelled both by Dr .Reynolds and those present..

In her interviews with 100 top women business leaders, Dr. Reynolds in fact discovered quite the opposite. In what she terms ‘Positive Conspiracies of Change’ she has seen, repeatedly, women supporting other women in projects, mentoring, networks and sponsoring, in major and minor ways. This is also our experience at Executive Networks, an organization linking men and women at the most senior levels in global billion dollar companies to exchange information and experience. On countless occasions, online and in person, reaching out individually and through our communities, junior, mid level and senior women are helping each other.  We saw this again in action between the women who joined our Executive Networks Global Diversity & Inclusion Network online meeting this month, where the topic was Succession Planning. According to Executive Networks’ D&I Executive Director Mary Farmer ‘the genuine willingness to share valuable without vested information, self-interest, is something I’ve encountered frequently in communities and networks of professional women, and is a hallmark of Executive Networks. I really don’t know where the idea comes from that corporate women try to undermine each other, this is something I’ve never experienced. Do some women not like some other women? Absolutely, just as men don’t always get along., but my own research totally corroborates Dr. Reynolds’ findings, that women can and do join forces to create positive change and facilitate gender balance in today’s high-performing companies’.

As part of their own on-going positive conspiracy of change these women joining our virtual conversations at Executive Networks frequently have not yet met each other in person, nor have they had years of opportunity to establish relationships — still they show up and share with each other what is working to make a difference in their organizations, sharing extremely valuable tacit and explicit knowledge, to collaborate, to share and to learn together in order to drive business results.  It’s true, it happens throughout the year and it’s very common – women really go out of their way to support each other.  These women will share their stories in panel discussions, during virtual knowledge share events, offer to welcome a new member to our global network in an effort to build their own positive conspiracy of change and give back.   Additionally, they enjoy checking in with each other for support around topics of common interest.   They join conversations to seek the advice of their network colleagues, just as women do everywhere.  That is the glue, the power and the real deal of support in the positive conspiracy of change. Let’s put the ‘women undermining other women’ myth to rest, once and for all.

 Mary Farmer & Michael Tirrell contributed to this post.

Networking Coaching


I facilitated a virtual fireside chat with Sally Helgesen, author of the Female Vision and spoke afterwards about my role as a community weaver at Executive Networks.   I shared with Sally that the majority of the time I spend performing networking coaching with community managers and weavers around approaches and techniques they can consider using as the foundation of building relationships for the purpose of networking. 

What we talk about is how individuals can within the construct of networks build relationships.  I’m not talking about teaching people about selling a brand or building a personal brand.   Rather, as a networking coach, how we spend time understanding individuals and their understanding of themselves, their goals and archetypes.

Do they understand their strengths and weaknesses?  Do they have development areas clearly articulated?  Where have they or do they plan to explore, etc? 

What matters to them in the lens of this network experience?  How have they networked in the past, what are they most comfortable offering and giving to the network?  What do they desire in return?  How much time do they have to spend on these activities?    Only then can we have authentic conversations that are tailored to be high value for time around what is most important to them, their gift areas and new contacts or knowledge they would like to develop.

The role of a networking coach tends to often involve the archetype of a detective, adventurer and revolutionary.

What does it take to be a master community weaver?

The composition of the community as it turns out is really important – you need more than just a modern infrastructure of tools and a great product or service – you need the right people, committed to the overall goal of the community who are willing to look at the conversation, the content, the focus and partner and lead to allow it to flourish, grow, etc.  What I mean is that you need special people with the secret sauce.  Yes, that is correct – it’s not every ordinary day person that can be a community convener.  You need professionally trained community builders who understand the fine balance between driving business results and honoring individual motivation and needs.  This is the tight rope that is often very hard to balance.

This idea of developing, nurturing and cultivating communities work described by Etienne Wenger, Bill Snyder and Richard McDermott  in the “Cultivating Communities” book is an excellent framework to consider.    But what I’ve found when composing communities is that there is a great need for talent in what I call the “loom factory’, as you need to quickly hire master weavers to the team.  Sounds easy right, well these people aren’t so easy to find.  You need people who ‘give, give and give more’ according to Mike Dulworth, author of the Connect Effect ’.  These people are great listeners who with ease and grace can welcome new community members, while educating, informing, sharing, encouraging and can invite new community members.  For existing members they need to be able to facilitate online systems and tools, while challenge being able to facilitate in person workshops and challenge community members all at the same time. 

The talent we look for as community composers are these individuals that are natural weavers of knowledge.  They share outwards and bridge, they are social artists that can listen for and see new possibilities while understanding each community members’ personal needs and motivations. They live in a variety of digital habitats and have strong verbal and written communication competencies, as well as leadership, drive and passion.  They are workhorses who strive to allow community members to accomplish goals or solve customer problems.  They are generative in nature and have emotional intelligence.  Master weavers bring people into to a new, warm inviting place – into a community of high value.