Here’s why networking isn’t just about landing your dream job — Hal Gregersen

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

From Fortune

At a dinner party a few years ago, Salesforce CRM 2.16% Founder Marc Benioff and Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston got to talking. Their conversation led to a new idea, and that idea led to Salesforce’s Chatter, an enterprise social network, Benioff recalled during an interview I had with him two years ago (for an upcoming book about what causes senior leaders, especially CEOs, to ask the right questions before someone else does it for them).

Their conversation led to a new idea, and that idea led to Salesforce’s Chatter, an enterprise social network. Chatter was not just a result of a chance encounter. At the age of 50, Benioff regularly invites 20- and 30-something year-old entrepreneurs to his house for dinner. It’s in this pursuit of perspectives different than his own that he is able to constantly bring new services and ideas to market. Benioff, who is known to buy smaller firms for people (not products), once told me, “I don’t have all the ideas. That isn’t my job. My job is to build a culture of innovation.”

Our research shows that innovators like Benioff have mastered the art of networking ideas. By purposefully growing their networks to include people from diverse industries and backgrounds, they are quicker to act on observations that spur innovation.

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A professor finds gender bias on Wall Street — Lily Fang

MIT Sloan Visiting Associate Professor of Finance Lily Fang

MIT Sloan Visiting Associate Professor of Finance Lily Fang

From Wall Street Journal

Men and women have different experiences when it comes to Wall Street careers. And those differences fascinate Lily Fang.

Dr. Fang, an associate professor of finance on the Singapore campus of the business school Insead, has spent the past five years or so delving into how gender affects the career-development paths of stock-research analysts on Wall Street. What she and co-author Sterling Huang of Singapore Management University found was that the networking and personal connections that male analysts rely on so heavily to get ahead are much less useful for women in similar jobs.

Dr. Fang says the audience for this type of gender research has grown in recent years as it has become apparent that women—despite making great strides in many competitive industries—remain underrepresented in top echelons of the corporate world.

A native of Shanghai with a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Dr. Fang is spending a year as a visiting associate professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Mass.

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5 steps to building great business relationships — Jim Dougherty

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Jim Dougherty

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Jim Dougherty

From Harvard Business Review

It was the early 1990s, the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I was working as a sales rep for a prominent software company. Making the rounds of my Wall Street clients, I wished them happy holidays and thanked them for their business.

As I was leaving an appointment with the CIO of a very large investment bank, I shook his hand and wished him a Happy New Year. He stopped me and went back to his desk, took out a piece of paper and handed it to me. It was an order signed by the CEO dramatically increasing their purchase of our software and renewing their contract six months early.

I was stunned. I hadn’t been looking to make this sale—really, there was no reason for him to reorder this early. But as his sales rep, this was spectacular news: As at many companies, my employer used “multipliers” at year-end to encourage reps to sell more, so I would make a lot more money making this sale in late December than in June.

I thanked him profusely.  And as I walked back to my office, I thought about why he did it. How did he convince his boss they should renew well before they had to?  What was his rationale to his boss for buying so much more?

Eventually it dawned on me that after years having a solid relationship with me, he’d taken an emotional stake in my success. He went out of his way and used precious political capital to help me out even when I hadn’t asked him to.  If I had asked for this it is quite likely it would not have happened and may even have damaged our relationship.

To me, this is the defining attribute of a great business relationship: when each party has an emotional stake in the other’s success. This reciprocal relationship is common in our personal lives—in most families, we can expect our parents and siblings to have that, as well as some close friends. But for a business associate who was a stranger only two years ago, how did we reach this point?

Read the full post at the Harvard Business Review. 

Jim Dougherty is a Senior Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

How to use LinkedIn for career success — Bryn Panee Burkhart

Associate Director of Alumni Career Development Bryn Panee Burkhart

Associate Director of Alumni Career Development Bryn Panee Burkhart

From Financial Times

Do companies really use LinkedIn to hire MBA talent?

Absolutely! The world’s largest professional networking site has become integral in the recruiting strategy of all types of companies, from start-ups to multinationals. Most of LinkedIn’s revenue comes from their corporate talent solutions, which are paid-for services, offering recruiters and companies sophisticated search tools to find highly qualified professionals.

According to LinkedIn, 89 of the Fortune 100 companies currently use those services. Smaller companies purchase premium subscriptions or might even have employees sift through their personal connections to find potential candidates.

The bottom line is by creating a LinkedIn profile, you are putting yourself into a global resume database and there is a chance you could be tapped for job opportunities.

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Going Outside of Comfort Zones to Bridge Silos — Ray Reagans

MIT Sloan Prof. Ray Reagans

Silos are fairly common things in large organizations. While bridging those silos can lead to innovation and increased productivity, making those connections can be a tough thing to do. It’s easier to develop networks within the familiar silos than reach out to people in disparate areas.

And even if you do decide to reach out to new people, who do you select and from how many departments? It’s not like you can say you will have strong ties only with people who matter because you don’t know who those people will be and, even if you do know, there will be so many of them that you still will have to make choices.

In research focused on this issue, I studied the knowledge transfer relationships among several hundred scientists and found that when it comes to creating the right network for facilitating knowledge transfer, not all networks are equal. Read More »