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In a large organization, there are two ways to create great value: you can know a lot, or you can know a lot of people. Even within formal hierarchies, there are connectors who influence without authority. As organizations take advantage of social networking tools, connectors can keep in touch with more and more people.
Even new hires can be connectors. It’s a great way to get all sorts of interesting opportunities.
It can be tempting for connectors to try to hang on to that power. They might introduce people to each other, but not share their organizational knowledge of who’s where.
Me, I want to build the post-connector workplace.
I don’t want the power that comes from being the relationship or information broker. I don’t want to be the perpetual go-between. I want to build what I know into the foundation, so that everyone can use it. For me, that means building strong communities and knowledge maps.
Even connectors who can remember thousands of people are biased by recall and limited by their networks. Passing a question through personal networks take time and result in a lot of duplicates. Networks that depend on connectors lose a lot when those connectors leave.
I’d rather look for new talent than just refer people to the people who come to my mind first. I’d rather build the capabilities into the organization so that everyone knows where to go and how to connect. I try to share everything I’m learning, and I work on connecting dots in public instead of in private.
It’s not about how many followers you have or how influential you are, but about how well the organization and the world works even after you move on.