Brian Uzzi − a globally recognized scientist, teacher, consultant and speaker on leadership, social networks, data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and a professor of leadership and organizational change at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University – provided a lesson on hidden connections and networking at the 2019 AFT Spring Summit in Tucson, Ariz.
Uzzi spoke about the mass of data available through instruments such as email, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and how people connect through them. “Every time we get into that data, we find a very close connection between the kind of network you have and your ability to achieve things in life as a leader.”
The professor described how Uber took the idea of networks to the extreme and used it to disrupt markets and become the most valuable transportation company in the world. “It's more valuable than any airline, any trucking company, and any railroad. It owns no vehicles.”
Uzzi suggested networking is the way to overcome limitations through other people. Once individuals start mapping the social world of networks, whether through their organization, blogosphere, or Facebook, they create highly clustered relationships with an official name, called a creed with a nickname called an echo chamber. “Echo chambers are not good with your leadership capabilities. The reason why: If you want to get rid of your blind spots, which is the objective of your network, this kind of structure will rob you of your ability to do that.”
He explained once individuals utilize this tight cluster, people stop sharing their independent knowledge, but instead become participants in an easier communication process, called common information exchange. “They share the knowledge they have in common, which reinforces a point of view but doesn't necessarily make it more accurate.”
The definition and the power of networks, Uzzi revealed, comes from the capability to connect otherwise disparate clusters. “If you have that capacity in your network, you get a special name, you become the brokers. Brokers are an active element in every network, they harvest the knowledge, the information, the skills,” Uzzi told to AFT audience.
How do you want to manage this? Uzzi suggested to always remember everything that a person possesses has two values. One called the use value, which is the worth people get out of it. The second, the people exchange value, is the value received by trading it to someone who finds it more valuable. “What should you look for, or give before you’re asked? Find the things that have low use value to you but high exchange value and those are the things likely to bring the greatest returns with the smallest effort. That's a way to fill a relationship.”
Uzzi also reminded AFT attendees that many business relationships do not rise through business. “They're built through activities that are outside of business. That means doing it on your own is important but remember your network builds the network fastest. Research shows that praise of you by others is most trusted and most contagious.”