Be a Hub for Your Network
So I wanted to go ahead and move over to our next major thing that I wanted to mention, which is the hub strategy. And so this relates to research that's done by this guy named ronald bert he is a sociologist at the university of chicago and he's done some really interesting looks into the nature of networks and specifically he's focused in on the question of what makes someone indispensable in a network it's kind of a powerful concept, right? How do you make yourself indispensible? So what ronald burton has discovered, and I think it has a lot of relevance for us, is that if you are the center of the network, there is a tremendous amount of power there because, you know, you've got you got people splayed all around, you know, million nodes, but in any organization or in any field, they're going to be a lot of silos, right? This is an inevitable part of human nature that people who probably should talk to each other or not talking to each other. That was what robbie discovered a moment...
ago. When we're talking about his work in the nonprofit community in boston, it made perfect sense for these fundraisers from different related causes to be talking, but for whatever reason they weren't, and so he said, you know what? I'm gonna connect them. I'm gonna unite them by starting this group and by doing that he created a kind of power for himself not because you know he was you know, oh, I must have power but buy, you know, sort of as a byproduct he created power for himself because all of a sudden he was a connector he knew everybody and he had access to information that other people didn't he would hear about things before other people did he would hear about new ideas before other people did simply bide into the fact that he was just you know, it the center of things. So the question is, you know, how do you how do you put yourself at the center? Is there a way that you could do that effectively? And so one strategy that I wanted to suggest to you guys as a possibility to consider he's actually have a friend who worked at a large research hospital and she had what I thought was a really fascinating idea. It was that one day a week for one hour a week pretty simple one hour a week she would ask a different person in a different department tow lunch that's all but if you really think about it at the end of a year and you have fifty new contacts all across your organization, so if you work in a large organization that's really amazing because it means that you know, you you know, people all through, out, if you have a question of any kind, you either know who knows it or, you know, someone who knows someone, and you can get it done, it makes you so much more effective, but even if you're self employed, like I am are like many of you guys are just doing this and saying, you know what? Once a week, I'm gonna have lunch with a different person in my community or in my profession, just your network expands dramatically one hour a week, and you can become a hub, you can make your own network, so thinking, thinking about just what a little time invested over the duration can do about it so that, you know, the question that we have to ask ourselves, like robbie did is, is there a way that you could bring information from one place to another, ideas from one place to another? Maybe they're not talking now, but they should. If you're the center of that, through your conversations, through your connections, through groups that you start or memberships that you're a part of, it really means that you're bringing something distinct to the table that other people are not, and that's that's, the reason people would want to work with you, you really are different, and so another thing that I wanted to mention which I think is crucial here I told you before that I would be mentioning again robert sheldon e and jeffrey feffer and so here I wanted to talk to you a little bit about jeffrey pfeiffer's most recent a book that he wrote I love it for any of you guys who are you know sort of business book fiends this one is a really great one even if you don't typically like business books I would highly recommend it it's called power why some people have it and others don't if you think that the title is good you know like if you're interested in the concept you will love the book because it's it's very interesting and engaging and what jeffrey feffer mentions in power is this interesting idea and you know how how do you become more powerful and I don't mean power in the sense of like oh let's you know wantonly suck up all kinds of influence and then be able to exert our will I mean power more broadly how do you become recognized how do you become influential in the world in which you want to be influential I think we all want to make a difference we all want to be recognized how do you get to do it? And so one of the things that he talks about in the book which I thought was really useful is the idea of finding unwanted yet central rules I'll tell you what I mean by that I mean basically we know that in any organisation institution or whatever they're going to be things that everyone recognizes as a very desirable thing, right? Like you know oh everybody wants to be you know, the ex of of whatever so I mean let's say there's a there's a committee you know, you get to be the chair of the program committee and oh well it turns out the chair of the programming committee is the person who makes decisions about who gets the money. Okay, well, you know, everybody wants to do that right? They're all going to be fighting for that role and so if you can get it that's fantastic but there's probably gonna be one hundred people who want that role and one person who gets it. So what do you do in that situation you just declare defeat? Jeffrey feffer says no there is another possibility which is if you are smart if you are more strategic than other people you confined unwanted yet central roles and I will tell you a story about someone who did that. This is a friend of mine named heather rothenberg and heather actually we went to college together and when I met heather she was you know, she was a sociology major right after school she went and she ran a a very small community nonprofit and so she did that for a couple of years and as she was running the nonprofit she you know it was in this kind of crowded urban environment and she got really interested in traffic policy interestingly enough, because traffic was a big issue in her community it was you know, streets were congested, it was really dangerous or lots of like pedestrian accidents and stuff and she started to really think about and say wait a minute you know, could we make this better because it's clearly not working in this community and so she she got interested enough that she said, you know what? I am going to go back to graduate school to become a traffic engineer and so you know, she she went ahead and did it but she in order to be a traffic engineer you have to take all these really technical things have take calculus and serve advanced math all this stuff she had not done at our liberal arts college that we went tio and s o she worked really hard just just to meet the prerequisites, but so she gets to teo graduate school or doctor program first semester she's not even there a month and her department says okay, we're all taking a field trip we're going to go down to washington to a conference and you can all experience the world the tran transportation engineering so she goes you know her head's still spinning she doesn't know what's going on and she finds herself in a session on women in transport nation and as soon as she gets there she basically realizes what the deal is which is that she is in a room with twenty really senior powerful people and they they all basically kind of pounce on her because what the group is is it's powerful people who have lots of big ideas and zero time to execute them and so they see this like fresh meat and within the hour within this one hour that she meets them they have convinced her to become the secretary of their group and to be the planner of next year's conference session joey she knows nothing about transportation engineering at this point with that kind of contour into doing it and so you know if you step back a smart person would probably say look heather you have bigger fish to fry here right? Why are you signing up to be the secretary of this group when you have you know, your first year of graduate school when you're coming in you no less than all of your classmates because you had to take these remedial courses you've gotta build relationships with your professor's relationships with your classmates you gotta focus on what's important not these extracurricular activities that makes sense right she's she's extending herself too far but no turns out that heather did something really smart because fast forward ten years we have you know we have some longitudinal evidence about some of these people now fast forward ten years heather graduates from her doctoral program and when she graduates from her doctor but it didn't take her ten years incidentally but you know, like close to a decade stick along, you know, long time doing her graduate work and she she graduates and her she's now the president of this women in transportation group she's gone from being a secretary to being the president and because over the past decade she has built relationships with all of these incredibly powerful women in the industry they were fighting with each other over who would help her get a job they all wanted her toe work at their organizations and she was able to get a job almost immediately. As a result, she had found a way to develop a core of mentors who for a decade had seen her weekend and weak out being responsible doing great work and they wanted to pay that back by helping her and that's something that if she had just, you know, focused on her studies like we're often taught to dio she wouldn't have been able to cultivate that now and I want to be clear this job is secretary this was not gloria, you know, glamorous or glorious work she send out meeting minutes she emailed people she booked conference rooms she ordered sandwiches you know that's the kind of stuff that she was doing his group secretary but she did it well enough to become the president and because she was doing those things well and had an excuse as a result to be in touch with these women they were they were really loyal to her so being secretary ordering sandwiches that is a pretty unwanted role but it also it was a way that she became central to the whole process and as a result has got her dream career in washington now and has become incredibly successful a decade later so what I'd like you guys to think about right now is um your own hub how do you how do you become a hub in your life and so maybe you could just you know we don't have a sort of special slot to write this down exactly so this is a more sort of ah close your eyes and think kind of thing but I'd like you to think about ways that in your own life you can connect people or connect groups are there you know if you for instance were going tio have lunch with a different person every week who would you start reaching out to and or if there were groups that you could bring together what groups would you want to bring together how can you be more of a connector in your own lives so just think about that for a minute ronald burke from the university of chicago says that this is really one of the most crucial elements that we can embrace in terms of making our careers successful if we if we want to thrive it's because we have to make ourselves indispensable so how do you put yourself at the center of the circle rather than out on the periphery? Maybe it is you know, reaching out that one hour weekend doing it maybe like heather it's finding a place in an organization that other people might overlook but where there's a real opportunity to build relationships with senior people in shine if you you know you could be thinking about it on your own but you can also share it in the chat room because we'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas about about how you're doing it and you know share share your advice with uh with arrest the chat room folks and with everybody who's watching so in fact mean mom who's not so mean says serving in these sometimes grunt physicians leads to second acts and send second seasons of lives for women mothers who have been out of the workforce not just students like heather and also volunteering has great rewards and gives you that hub opportunity yeah exactly and I really like mean mom's point there because such a funny handle eleven you know it's uh because it's it's really true I mean I often talk with folks who are very talented, successful women and if they've taken time off work you know, sometimes there's there's the presumption particularly in certain fields like let's say marketing or anything related to technology we're you know, if you're out of the workforce let's safe, you know, three years, five years, eight years something like that you know a lot can happen you know between you know, if you if you left let's say you're a marketer and you left in two thousand four and then you came back in two thousand twelve it's like whoa what's what's this facebook on you know, it's a lot of things can happen and so we need to make sure that you know, not just for our own professional skills which is always true but also as a kind of proofpoint for other people because you know, the people who would be hiring us are saying, well, you know, wait a minute you know, are you actually converse int with facebook and other technologies and we need to be ableto basically hold something up and show them and say no for real I am and here's the evidence and so some of the stuff that you can do on your own maybe you create your own blogged your own social media presence but if you're volunteering it gives you a way to really stay plugged in and as we were talking about earlier it is an excuse to keep your skills fresh because you can experiment in ways when you're doing things for free that you would never be permitted to dio if you were actually being paid and there's a presumption that you will do it one hundred percent perfectly so having the opportunity to really learn through volunteering is a great way to keep your skills fresh and to keep expanding them over time as your you know perhaps number one figuring out where you want to re enter the workforce and number two if you already know sort of strategically tracing back okay what are what are the skills that are really important here and what will people be asking me about as they're looking at my resume and as they're asking the interview questions for this job that I want you've been brainstorming over here storming away all those something's said earlier about you know early on people took that meeting groups and they're saying some groups always want one any one person from each industry and all these other things I was thinking to myself one of my hubs and then I thought you know as creatives were in a really great position of pretty much way seemed to appeal to a wide group of people who are offering great of services and you can pretty much any group you're in will offer you an audience that in some way sands, what you do, I think like, for instance, you know, I went did a sing a song writing thing a while ago that hadn't done twenty years and I was like, I'll go do that and met amazing people who, you know, could it on architecture for designed for or you sell things to not and again it's because your your european group because you're united by something that's, not necessarily the work thing. Yes, often people are relaxed and happy, but it also really interested in talking to you while you battle through a song of battle through a drama together, you know? And then you have this chance, I think, yeah, particularly creators were lucky I mean, you probably also like if you're accountable, something too right, but but it battle our friendship kiss a lot of the studio audience and, you know, I was saying all both of us to offer various different creative services, and we find it'll hide brand ourselves, but on the other hand, in terms of hub groups, people pretty interested in what you do and so pretty much any group like whether it's a book group or, you know, music group or just something vaguely creatively related, yeah, I think gives me this awesome opportunity to be at home but also just spread the love of it gets him a wingman yeah there's a lot of great ideas and they're now are in studio front row what have you been writing down any great ideas coming work I like to teach eso is that the same as being the middle like I teach photoshopped at the adult school this kind of thing so maybe tohave a group of there's a lot of people want to know she photoshopped today amateurs so I would be teaching them what I do but then they'd know that professionally if they needed somebody that I have the skills yeah that would come back that absolutely I mean teaching teaching is great and then this is a this is a strategy that I've followed for a long time I mean I teach for a number of business schools and have been you know I started more than a decade ago a tte first teaching it undergraduate institutions and then a few years ago teaching executive education and doing you know stuffer for business school folks so I think it's great for two reasons one is that it really definitively brands you as an expert from the social proof perspective right I mean it if an institution says yes barbara is qualified to teach this then it's basically saying you have their seal of approval that's really powerful to put on your resume because people say oh wow if she's good enough for x y z college she's good enough for may so that's that's a great thing and the number to your students always look up to you I mean, even if they are, you know, ultimately doing the same thing is you mean you know, some people you know, maybe the equine photographers you know, not the cool one it's like our friends, you know, the sort of competitive equine photographers may be like I'm not gonna teach other people equine photography, you know, they could, like steal my clients or something, but I like to think that we should not have such a paranoid view because if we this is this is actually where personal brand really matters here because, you know, what if somebody else does, you know, if they no photo shop or whatever, if they know how to take a picture of a horse, that does not really mean they're your competitors. Er if someone is your competitors just because they can literally do the same thing as you, I mean, you know that that's that's pretty that's, pretty weak because basically what we're saying is like, oh, well, you know, the only thing setting me apart from other people is just that I know how to do this thing so it's like, oh, I snap a photo of a horse you should hire me guess what, you want people to hire you for something far more than that you want to have the reputation that like no no no if if you're going to have a horse photograph taken it has to be tomorrow because she has the most amazing unique eye and she truly gets inside the mind of the horse and other people could like take a picture of the outside of the horse but you know what? It's not gonna look the same because they don't get the essence of the horse you know, you want people to understand your brand because that is what will encourage them to pay a premium for your services and that well that's what we'll encourage them to say you know yes, I picked you specifically so you know, teaching them is great and also say to in your case you're kind of eclectic you're a renaissance woman you teach him photoshopped, you know how to do a million other things and so they can say, wow, you know, I might do this photo shop on this this project but I don't know how to do, you know, graphic design or editing or whatever, so I'll refer that to my old professor so people would like that yeah, you look like you had a thought or a common today s o I um on the like human dick or people painting front I have I host like a skill share at my house sometimes and I started a facebook group called become the art and the idea was for it to be a collective and it's like not a lot of people sort of jumped on and took responsibility and like start so it's a little I'm still mainly the one doing it but it is a bit of a hub and I can you know, sometimes I get a call where they're like we need to seven face painters and airbrush artists and I pull on the people in that and create that but what I'm thinking of doing is sort of like a now that have the airstream that has the whole like, you know, get your professional photo kind of thing done thinking about doing like a monthly thing for performers and painters where they can like it's sort of a jam and a skill share but then there there's this sort of like opportunity to like get a photo of your new costume or do a really great job and then get professional photos off of the new face paint designer basically like where you're there's a really tangible benefit yeah but it's more like peer to peer networking sharing and always trying to have that kind of collaborative general like there's never any sense of like competition is always like let's share our best practices but so that's what I'm thinking about doing is something and maybe I would have to do one that specifically for models and dancers and one that's more for like the people painters and you know it might have to be themed because they can't get that many people in there stream right yeah yeah that's a brilliant idea I think I think that's great and thank you for sharing that because you know really what we what we want to be doing what we want to be thinking about is ways to bring people together so that everybody benefits because you're exactly right I mean you're not gonna get far if you think of things as this zero sum game oh, there could only be one horse photographer in this county sorry. You know it's I mean this this is a terrible way to live and it's also a demeaning to yourself way toe live because you've gotta have enough faith in yourself that you say you know what? We're going to open this up for everybody and I have enough self worth to understand that even if there is a choice of many people who do the things that I do there is a reason why people should pick me and part of this whole personal brand journey is really getting clear on what that reason is and what you know what what is passionate in you and what resonates with the folks who want to buy your product or service and if you can find that you know that's that's your source of professional power so I think that's, really exciting and a cz we're going through here. You know what the hub exercise is really about is getting clear in your own mind about, you know, how do you bring people together and create a sum that is greater than the individual parts? How do you, how do you create a bigger pie for everyone? Make it more fun for yourself. In the process created, network appears. Create a community around what you d'oh, that it makes it really exciting teo to be a part of.