Shock-Corded Network Connections


Shock-corded tent pole

Although network theory identifies formal and informal networks as two different entities, they can in fact be both, depending on circumstances. This is apparent in the network that I work within. I’ve been an independent consultant since 1998. I have no employees. However, I work within a rich network of other consultants, some on their own like me and others working within a formal consulting practice.

Much of the time the network is informal. Some of the ties within it are weak, bridging structural holes and my contact with them is intermittent and only activated for specific jobs or information sharing. Other ties are very thick, with many connections forged over the years.

This informal network can become highly formalized when we are awarded a contract that we’ve come together to tackle because of the need for a range of skills and greater numbers of people. At that point we need more accountability and we likely will formalize roles, establish a legal contract or contracts with the organization hiring us, and may even sign agreements between ourselves. You can hear the informal connections snapping into formal shape like shock-corded tent poles.

Kadushin also talks about mentor relationships in an either/or fashion – either someone who bridges structural holes or someone who is well embedded within a cohesive network (2012, p. 104). The member of my network whom I consider a mentor (and dear friend) is actually both and provides me with “diverse resources” and shares a rich network with me.

Relationships are complex and situational; network theory may not always describe this real world richness. My rich, flexing network provides me with what I need for happy camping.


2 Responses to “Shock-Corded Network Connections”

  1. 1 Andrea

    I liked your real-life experiences that you’ve woven into this post Judith. You particularly have a rich social network based on the previous positions you’ve held. I loved this post (and the picture as well) 🙂

    • Thanks! I had to google what the tent poles were actually called – those poles with the elastic thingies wasn’t cutting it…

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