The power and impact of your internal networkers is something that can't be taken for granted or left to chance.

The Power of Internal Networkers
March 21, 2012


Every successful organization has at least one individual who can assure that meetings get coordinated, bills get paid, computer systems work, and trash cans get emptied.  These essential players support come in all shapes and have every kind of title - from CEOs and Executive Directors who hold the vision and broker necessary relationships to keep our doors open, to skilled office managers who seem to never to miss a beat.
 
Dee Hock, writer and founder of VISA International, refers to these people as “internal networkers,”   We often refer to them as the “glue” of our organizations.  They coordinate the birthday potlucks, circulate a card when someone’s mother is in the hospital, and remember details that can foster cohesion and success.  Without these people, our ability to navigate through our workdays would be just that much closer to impossible.
 
A great example of the internal networker appeared in the documentary “Pina,” about the German choreographer, Pina Bausch.  In one featured work, “Café Mueller,” two dancers moved through a simple set of café tables and chairs arrayed about the stage.  The principal dancer moved through the set, eyes closed, while the second dancer pushed tables and chairs out of her way.  His work was to clear her path, which he did in sometimes chaotic and urgent motions, as his partner gracefully and blindly danced around the stage. The pair created a compelling counterpoint and underscored how one could not have proceeded without the other.
 
This dance caused me to reflect on the helpful people who have cleared my path as I made my way through life.  When I considered those who have served me in this role, I was aware of the obvious folks - my family, teachers, mentors, friends, and colleagues.  I also saw how my immigrant grandparents cleared my path before I even arrived on stage.  Then there were others whom I never heard or saw  –  people in service roles, cops who patrolled the streets, delivery drivers who stocked the corner store at night-  who helped me progress across my own stage without stumbling.
 
Over the past couple of weeks I have begun to take note of the internal networkers who are having an impact for my clients and even for me. I’ve seen how their power to work behind the scenes can cut two ways, opening doors and making life easier but also making barriers and fostering an environment of distrust with misplaced gestures or tactical blunders.  The take-away for me is that the power and impact of your internal networkers is something that cannot be taken for granted or left to chance
 
Whoever your internal networkers may be, build their skills, sing their praises, and shine light on the work they do. Acknowledge the importance of aligning their intentions and actions with yours so that they become a part of your organization’s larger success story. 


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