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During a Feb. 7 event sponsored by the Kellogg Executive Women's Network, Professor Brian Uzzi presented the benefits of building stronger professional networks.

Kellogg EMBA women ‘superconnect’ for success

Professor Brian Uzzi shares keys to building a powerful social network with members of the Kellogg Executive Women’s Network

By Rebecca Lindell

2/12/2008 - At the dawn of the American Revolution, two patriots sped across the colonial countryside spreading news of the British invasion.

One had a powerful network of contacts that sounded the alert far and wide. The other’s network was more insular, and his news reached fewer people. The name of the former lives on today; the latter’s has faded into obscurity.

That’s the difference between Paul Revere and his fellow envoy, the less-remembered William Dawes, Kellogg Professor Brian Uzzi told a gathering of female Kellogg alumnae Feb. 7 during an evening event at the James L. Allen Center. The historical example also illustrates the difference between social networks cultivated by men and those tended by women, Uzzi said.

“That’s the bad news,” said Uzzi, the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change. “The good news is that when women have Paul Revere-style networks, they tend to be more powerful than comparable networks of men.”

In a lecture sponsored by the Kellogg Executive Women’s Network, a group for alumnae of the school’s Executive MBA Program, Uzzi discussed ways in which women can raise the power of their networks. More than 100 women attended the event, which was followed, fittingly, by an opportunity to meet, greet and network with each other afterward.

Uzzi discussed the importance of “superconnectors” — people who have an exceedingly large and diverse number of contacts. These “brokers” of social capital have the power to amplify one’s message exponentially.

One way to meet these individuals — and to become one as well — is to engage in a variety of extracurricular activities that allow participants to break out of the “scripts” they follow in their professional lives, Uzzi said.

“When you think about your network, it’s not just the marketing of your skills that is important,” Uzzi said. “It’s where you look to for the production of your ideas. That diversity is what helps you develop.”