It’s crystal clear that having a strong network is critical to personal and professional success for leaders these days. I just interviewed Mike Dulworth, author of a great new book called The Connect Effect: Building Strong Personal, Professional, And Virtual Networks. Mike is CEO of Executive Networks, Inc. This turned out to be such an interesting topic that I’ve broken the interview into three blogs. Here’s part one:
Jim: What prompted you to write this book?
Mike: Good question. I’ve been running a professional networking business for the last four years. I’ve seen firsthand how these networks can help people on a personal and professional basis and lead to concrete organizational outcomes. I’ve also read some of the popular books on networking and I just think most of them are a bunch of hype. So, I guess, I thought I had something useful to say on the issue. I sometimes say that The Connect Effect is a networking book for normal people, not the ADD (attention deficit disorder) crowd. It just seems to me that many of the networking books in print today are based on extreme extrovert models and are not really practical formulas or approaches for 90% of people.
Jim: Why do you think networking is so important today?
Mike: We live in a VUCA world. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The societal, organizational and personal issues we face today are extremely complex. Change happens at an extremely rapid pace. In order to effectively address the myriad of challenges we face everyday, it is my belief that we need broad, deep and diverse networks. Just look at Clinton’s Global Initiative, the World Economic Forum or the Grameen Bank. At their heart, they’re networks. Obviously, the web has greatly increased our capacity to connect and network 24/7/365, which is profoundly changing our fundamental ideas about networks and how to leverage networks to accomplish our objectives.
Jim: You talk about the “Connect Effect”, what does that mean?
Mike: The Connect Effect is the positive outcome derived from having a strong, vibrant, diverse network. As more and better connections are made by an individual, it’s more likely The Connect Effect will occur. I talk in the book about entering “The Network Zone” which is much like what is described as “being in the zone” in sports. The Network Zone is achieved when your network is so broad and deep that almost anything can be accomplished more efficiently and effectively through your network. What also happens is that positive unintended things occur as a result of your network – like having someone call you up out of the blue with an amazing new job opportunity.