“I’m on LinkedIn. Isn’t that enough networking?”
Truth be told: this question still makes me wince. But it’s a fair question. Awareness of networks is so new that, when we talk about networks, most people think of Facebook and LinkedIn. What’s the difference?
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and similar programs are tools that are used to help you interact with your network. You connect with colleagues, friends, and people who share interests with you (maybe you both “like” chocolate on Facebook or you both belong to the Linked:HR group). Facebook and LinkedIn give you pictures of your first degree of connection. LinkedIn also shows you your second and third degrees of connection. But neither (at least yet) has the sophistication to show you the deeper and more complex web of relationships between your first, second, and third degrees of connections. Today, with Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s all about you.
A network analysis takes it beyond you. It shows the interactions between everyone in a department, company, or value chain (for example). This is important because you can see the patterns. Is everyone in Sales deeply connected but not talking with anyone in Engineering? Bet there are going to be problems fulfilling client orders soon. Have transactions between the New York office and the Bangalore office slowed to a halt because they have to go through one person who’s become a bottleneck? The network analysis will let you know.