The last Strategy and Marketing MP Forum session was run by the highly acclaimed and informed Dr Raina Brands of UCL.  We were privileged to have Raina talk to us so eloquently on the topic of social networks and the power of the informal organisation.

This was an interactive session which provided many thought provoking concepts alongside practical application.

Many senior leaders will be familiar with the concept of the internal organisation and the importance of navigating social networks.  Few of us however truly see it in the way of interconnected webs of opportunity to be exploited via sparse and often remote connections.  Raina brought this to life during this illuminating session.  It is difficult to limit such expansive thinking.  That said the 3 key takeaways which resonated at a practical level were:

  1. You can think of networks as windows, electrical wires and islands or bridges.  What is key in all of these examples is that it is optimal at an individual and firmwide level to make connections with people different to yourself, in different sectors and with different interests.  This leads to a sparse network. Think about making ‘introductions’ rather than helping yourself.
  2. A sparse network provides greater strategic opportunities for firms (particularly when mixed with key people who have more dense networks).  People with sparse networks are your rain makers, people with dense networks are your relationship builders within a firm.  You need a mixture of both.
  3. Who would you call upon in the state of a strategic emergency?  If you answer is a friend, or colleague with similar experience – think of someone else!

If you are interested to learn more, please reach out to Dr Brands at and join her network!

Zoe Bailey, Withers & Rogers