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The ODD Structure for Creating Effective Professional Networks

Network Leader
September 20, 2023
minute read

The ODD Structure for Creating Effective Professional Networks

In today's professional landscape, your network is a crucial asset. It's not just about who you know; it's about the structure and quality of your network that can significantly impact your career success and personal growth. In this blog post, we'll delve into the concept of an ODD network – one that is Open, Diverse, and Deep – and why it's essential for your professional development. A more detailed review of this topic is highlighted in our latest eBook, The Structural Characteristics of a Modern, Effective Network. Which we encourage you to download and access anytime! 

Open: Expanding Horizons Through Connectivity

Imagine your professional network as a web of connections, where each node represents a person. An open network is one where most of the people in your network don't know each other; you're the link that connects them. In contrast, a closed network consists of people who are interconnected, often with few connections outside of their own group.

Why does openness matter? An open network offers unique benefits, primarily by providing you with diverse inputs. Each person in your network hears different news, has access to various ideas and information, and offers a wide range of opportunities and projects. This diversity fosters innovation, adaptability, and career mobility.

While closed networks have their advantages, such as fostering camaraderie and efficiency, they can lead to groupthink and hinder adaptability over time. To avoid this, strive for openness in your network. Even connecting with just one person who doesn't know anyone else in your network can generate significant benefits.

Diverse: Embracing Differences for Innovation

Diversity in your professional network goes beyond demographics; it encompasses various dimensions:

  1. Vertical Relationships: Connecting with individuals up and down the organizational hierarchy.
  2. Horizontal Relationships: Crossing team and functional boundaries.
  3. Stakeholder Relationships: Engaging with customers, vendors, external partners, or thought leaders.
  4. Demographic Relationships: Building connections with people from diverse backgrounds, identities, ages, genders, races, and nationalities.
  5. Geographic Relationships: Expanding your network across regions and localities.

When your network reflects these five categories, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge, opinions, and experiences. This diversity fuels innovation and problem-solving by challenging your perspectives and providing unique insights.

However, building a diverse network can be challenging due to our natural tendency to connect with people who are similar to us. To overcome this, intentionally seek out and engage with individuals who bring diverse perspectives to the table. Embrace differences as opportunities for growth and collaboration.

Deep: Building Relationships that Count

While an open and diverse network is valuable, the depth of your relationships is equally important. Deep relationships are characterized by three key factors:

  1. Reciprocity: A mutual give-and-take where both parties help each other at different times.
  2. Trust: Specifically, "perceived benevolence," the belief that the other person has your best interests in mind.
  3. Frequency and/or Intensity: Building relationships through sustained interaction or intense engagement.

Deep relationships provide the support, guidance, and feedback needed to tackle complex challenges, make significant decisions, and plan your career path. These connections don't fade away; even dormant deep relationships can be rekindled with a strong foundation of trust and reciprocity.

It's important to note that not all your connections need to be deep. Maintaining a very deep network can be time-consuming and may limit your ability to form new, strategic relationships. Balance deep relationships with shallower ties to enjoy a mix of unique information and a sense of well-being.

Cultivating an ODD Network

Creating an ODD network – one that is Open, Diverse, and Deep – is not common. Research shows that only a small percentage of individuals naturally possess all three characteristics. To develop such a network, awareness and intentional effort are essential.

Start by evaluating your current network structure. Is it open, closed, diverse, or similar? Identify areas for improvement and take deliberate steps to expand, diversify, and deepen your connections. Consider leveraging tools and techniques, such as the "Fast Friends Protocol," to accelerate relationship building.

In conclusion, your professional network is more than a list of contacts; it's a dynamic web of relationships that can shape your career trajectory and personal growth. Embrace the ODD network structure – Open, Diverse, and Deep – as a roadmap to harness the full potential of your connections. By doing so, you'll unlock innovation, collaboration, and endless opportunities in your professional journey.

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