Monday, June 30, 2008

What is a network?

At last night's ISTE Welcome Session right before the keynote, we were addressed by and introduced to several of the people on the Board of Directors and staff. As this was the third year I have attended this session, I expected to get the quick run down of NECC events and such-informative but dry. I was thrilled to be mistaken.

Although we did have some dryness at the beginning, the NECC conference hired Brad Mongomery to be the Master of Ceremonies. What fun! His light-hearted sense of humor put the crowd at ease and he was able to do something most people cannot: get a room of several hundred people to have authentic conversation with each other. Through a series of exercises, we formed groups of 5 or 6 and responded to several prompts. Even those who do not like "touchy feely" were participating.

But what had the greatest impact for me was how he described what a network is. He did so by sharing what a network is not:
  • It is not "Hi. My name is..."
  • It is not "Here is my business card."
  • It is not "What can you do for me? What information can you give me?"

Authentic network is a relationship. It is finding about not only the professional but the personal aspect of other's lives. We bring who we are (which by the way is EXACTLY what James Surowiecki talked about in the keynote) and to be part of the network we have to connect on all levels.

So Brad gave the audience homework. Instead of asking the "Hi, how are you?" when you sit next to someone, you should ask "Outside of work, what takes up your time?" You may hear the question a lot this year at NECC but I hope you take the time to ask and answer! Create your own wisdom of the crowds. Create a network.

Thanks to my group of new friends from the session: Claire, Angelita, Dave, Benjamin, and Jose. It was a pleasure!


Danita Russell said...

Hey Marla:

Glad you are at NECC and blogging. I couldn't make it this year and am looking forward to being their virtually through your posts!