How to Manage Your Network

Linda Hill:  What do I mean by managing your network?  I don’t mean spend time necessarily on LinkedIn or other kinds of social networking pieces of the puzzle.  What I mean by that are a couple of things.  First off, organizations are inherently political entities, and really managing your network is about managing the political dynamics associated with all organizational life.  And for sure, one very specific piece of that puzzle is what you want to do is think about, “Who am I dependent on to get my job done?”  The higher up you go in an organization, the more dependencies you have.  You always want to over-estimate your dependencies.  So think about who you’re dependent on to get your job done.  And then you have to ask yourself, have I built the right relationships with those people?  Do they really “trust me”?  Right?   Do we have mutual expectations, can I influence them, can they influence me?  If the answers are no to those questions, then you have not built the right kind of relationships.

One of the things I’ve seen in my own experience is that we always talk about how power corrupts, but powerlessness corrupts also.  So indeed, unless you have thought about who you’re dependent on and you have figured out ways that you can build that mutual influence with the network piece that really refers to your peers and your bosses, or people outside the organization over whom you don’t have formal authority but who in fact you need them to do things for you in order for you to be successful, or your team to be successful, you’ve got to make sure you’ve spent the time managing those relationships.

So you can’t kind of ignore that, though, and say, “I don’t just have time for it.”  What you need to do is periodically make a picture or make a list: these are the dependencies, these are the critical relationships.  Do I have any relationship with these people?  Have I cultivated those relationships?  And you need to be honest about what the state of affairs is.  It depends on the job, but some proportion of your time should be spent on managing those relationships.  And if you’re not spending time on that, then your team cannot be successful no matter how wonderful the culture of that team and how much time you sort of worked to get that right, because your team won’t have the right resources to get done what it needs to get done

Are you cultivating the critical relationships at work?

Related Articles

Why the world needs death to prosper

Scientists have developed new ways of understanding how the biological forces of death drive important life processes.

Surprising Science
  • Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
  • After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
  • Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
Keep reading Show less

Why birds fly south for the winter—and more about bird migration

What do we see from watching birds move across the country?

E. Fleischer
Surprising Science
  • A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
  • The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
  • Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Keep reading Show less

How does alcohol affect your brain?

Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.

(Photo by Angie Garrett/Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
  • Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
  • Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
Keep reading Show less