Harnessing the Power of Network Intelligence

by Ronnie Nurss on March 23, 2012

(Reminder:  This month’s Book Club Pub Crawl will be next Thursday, March 29th at 7pm.  We’ll be discussing the book, The Start Up of You.)

The ability to get good intelligence is pivotal to run the start up of you.

You get Network Intelligence primarily from people in your network. Instead of living by the maxim, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” live with the mindset “Who you know is what you know.

Authors Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha go further on this:

“Now it’s easy and inexpensive to access the information bouncing around the brains of our connections. With everyone connected, the transaction costs of engaging your network are so low that it makes sense to pull intelligence from your network not only for the big career challenges–like finding a good job–but on broad range of day-to-day issues.”

Start using your social networks more purposefully and strategically. Ask yourself questions when you navigate your social networks daily:

  • Am I using Facebook in a valuable way?
  • Am I sharing useful and valuable information with my network?
  • Am I engaging with influencers in my network in a productive way?
  • Am I using these social networks to better my relationships?

Many of us waste a lot of time on social networks and do not take full advantage of the power and benefits they can provide us if used correctly.

Our network is an indispensable source of intelligence because people offer private observations. Connections will provide personalized information and advice. They will share relevant and useful information that is usually aligned with our own personal interests and lifestyle. This can be powerful to extract network intelligence as we strategically grow our social circles and networks.

Achieve Network Literacy to gain Network Intelligence
The authors define Network Literacy as, “know how to conceptualize, access, and benefit from the information flowing through your social network.”

There are some key strategies that you can use today to extract specific information from your social networks.

1) Ask Questions
Asking good questions is the secret to harnessing the power of network intelligence. You should not only ask your network good questions frequently, but also ask domain experts. Most “experts” are very accessible and open to connecting with and answering questions to thoughtful and intelligent readers.

When asking your network questions, always follow up. If you ask a great question, very rarely is the person’s best answer the first one. Follow up with more in-depth questions based on the information you got from the first answer. This is great to gain in-depth intel and also to continue building a relationship with the person.

2) Always be engaging
Besides asking purposeful questions, always just have a few “back pocket questions” handy for real life encounters. One example from the book is always asking, “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned over the past few months.” Who knows what type of conversation or new information can come of by asking these types of questions.

Make it a habit to continually be engaging people you find interesting.

3)  Share valuable information
Besides asking questions, also make it a point to share any interesting information you come across. Do you use Twitter or Facebook to post random brain farts or spammy updates? Or do you use it to share valuable or relevant information that you think your social network can benefit from?

Be very purposeful and strategic about the information you choose to share across your social networks.

4) Synthesize the information
Knowledge and information is only potential power. Synthesis is the final and most important step. According to the authors, “good synthesis is what makes the whole worth more than the sum of the parts.”

Take the information and intel you gain from your social networks and apply to your life, your projects, your network, overall, the start up of you.

Most of the time, you can use the network intelligence you gain to identify and pursue breakout opportunities–which we will discuss at the Book Club Pub Crawl next Thursday, the 29th.

Social Networks for Network Intelligence
Use these following social networks to gain network intelligence.

Facebook – Great for keeping in touch with mostly personal friends. I strongly suggest creating personalized newsfeeds of different industries, interests, and types of relationships. Some of the most interesting and valuable network intelligence comes from a few connections on Facebook.

LinkedIn – Start investing more time to LinkedIn, the second fastest growing social network. It’s way more purposeful and professional than Facebook, which is a big plus as Facebook begins to resemble MySpace more everyday.

Twitter – Follow influencers and thought leaders on Twitter. It gives you the easiest and most convenient way to actually connect with traditionally out-of-reach people. Another underrated feature of Twitter is the discover feature. Frequently search key words or themes on Twitter to connect with like-minded people.

Delicious – This is my personal favorite. I use delicious to follow influencers and thought leaders to see the articles that they personally find interesting and valuable. Most often, they even include personal notes attached to each article shared, or parts they specifically highlighted.  It’s a great way to “hack a person’s mind,” so to speak. Read this for more.

Blogs/Google Reader – Set up a Google Reader immediately and begin to add your favorite blogs. This will become your own personal newspaper every morning. Most thought-leaders or influencers post their best stuff on their personal blogs. Google Reader helps organize all of that intel and content in an convenient way.

If you find this information useful, share it with your social network. Also, come check out Thinkhouse Collective’s Book Club Pub Crawl next Thursday, March 29th,  at 7 p.m. where we’ll discuss these concepts and ideas in-depth followed by a few drinks. The book this month is the Start Up of You.

Did you like this? Share it:

Previous post:

Next post: