In ‘Building an Innovation Factory’ (HBR, May 2000), Andrew Hargadon and Robert I. Sutton discuss how to broker and capture good ideas for true and long-lasting effect. One of the companies studied is IDEO, an international design and consulting firm founded in Palo Alto, California. The most respected people at IDEO are:
- part pack rat — they have great private collections of stuff
- part librarian — they know who knows what
- part Good Samaritan — they go out of their way to share what they know and to help others.
I think we need to approach our personal network in a similar way in that we need a personal…
- board of advisers that brings out the best in you
- intelligence bank that sustains you over the long term
- marketing machine that champions you and your cause.
1. Your personal board of advisers
We invest in personal trainers for our fitness goals, financial advisers for our investment goals, even meditation teachers for our work–life goals. It is just as important to invest in a personal board of advisers as a sounding board and safety net to explore your ideas and plan your next career steps. Your personal network, your boardroom, provides encouragement, support and inspiration.
2. Your personal intelligence bank
Why not think of building your network as creating a personal ‘intelligence bank’ in which you invest in the same way a child makes regular coin deposits into their piggybank. The heavier the piggybank becomes, the more they have saved to purchase something important to them later. Invest in the right people with the right skills and it will pay dividends over the long term. Build your intelligence bank by embracing the strengths and skills of others around you, and in this way create more opportunity to influence others.
3. Your personal marketing machine
This is about forming a personal cheer squad who help you to create momentum because they believe in you.
Troye Sivan is a South African–born Australian singer, songwriter, actor, andYouTube personality. An early adopter of YouTube (2007), Troye began by uploading videos of himself singing cover songs. Five years later he started posting more personal video blogs, and in 2013 he released the track ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, which went viral thanks to his legion of online fans. EMI noticed and approached him with a record deal — the marketing machine hit the ground running.
In 2014, with more than 4 million subscribers and over 241 million total video views, Time magazine named Troye one of the top 25 most influential teens. Troye’s significant fan base has become his marketing machine. And he has a close, tight-knit network that supports his bigger-picture vision.
Without a marketing machine around you, your ability to create change and build engagement and influence is limited. To really drive your net worth and influence, you have to tap into what’s around you.
It was the American sociologist Ronald Burt who said, ‘Instead of better glasses, your network gives you better eyes.’
So who do you need to surround yourself with to inspire you and help you achieve more? Who do you need around you to provide support and to challenge your thinking?
It’s up to you to turn your focus inwards, take ownership and to look strategically at who is in your current network and who can help you get to where you’re going.