Mapping Professional Networks in Oklahoma-OEDC Network Mapping | Social Capital | Economic Development

Mapping Professional Networks in Oklahoma

Background: Economic Professional Networks and Why They Matter to Oklahoma Perhaps you have heard of the term, social capital. It refers to the relationships within a community. If the pattern of relationships is particularly dense, the community has a high level of social capital. If people are isolated and the level of civic activity is low, the community has depleted its social capital. Civic networks provide another way of thinking about this dimension of our communities. Social capital really represents a network of civic relationships. These relationships are becoming increasingly important to communities and regions because of the shifting nature of economic development. In the past, we thought of economic development as narrowly limited to the activity of recruiting factories to a community. Now, we know that economic development includes the activities that support education, innovation and entrepreneurship -- building wealth from within. Economic development also embraces physical development: building quality, connected places in which people choose to live and work. In addition, economic development activities increasingly cross political boundaries. Regions have become important, because few communities have the resources to compete globally. To compete globally, we need to learn to collaborate regionally. These new forms of economic development take place in a "civic space", outside the four walls of any one organization. That's where networks come in. In this civic space, no one can tell anyone else what to do. The mayor can't tell the school board what to do. The school board can't tell the chamber of commerce what to do. The chamber of commerce can tell the city council what to do. The only way we can accomplish anything is with collaboration through our networks. Connections lead to conversations, and focused conversations can lead to commitments and collaboration. Civic Networks as a Competitive Advantage In today's economy, regions with thick civic networks have a clear competitive advantage. In a world of continuous change, they can learn faster by sharing information. By learning faster, they can spot opportunities faster. As they spot opportunities, they can align their resources and make decisions faster. So, if Oklahoma is to be more prosperous, we must work hard to build our civic relationships.

OEDC Annual Meeting, 2007

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In recent years, software engineers have made significant progress in developing useful tools to map our civic networks. Using these software tools, we can visualize our civic networks and take practical steps to strengthen these networks. The first step in mapping these networks involves encouraging people to share their civic networks. As we compile these civic networks, patterns emerge, and we start to see the connections within the region. Equally important, we see gaps and missing links. Note that we ask people to share their civic networks, not their personal, family or business networks. We are only concerned with building the networks that help us build our community. Closing Triangles We will keep adding to our civic network map. Every so often, we will produce a new map of our civic networks in Oklahoma. You can then see where you are and how you are connected. Equally important, you'll be able to see how you can help build our civic networks in Oklahoma by "closing triangles". We close triangles this way: Suppose you know Jane and you know Bill, but Bill and Jane don't know each other. You close the triangle when you introduce Bill to Jane. In this way you make a new connection and open the door to possible new collaborations among Bill, Jane and their networks. Participate in Building our Civic Networks in North Central Indiana Our civic network maps will help us frame productive conversations both within a region and within the state. These maps help us think and act more practically to find productive collaborations and useful partnerships. We invite you to participate. To participate, all you need to do is share information on your civic networks with us. To help you think about your networks, we'll ask you a series of three questions. In answering these questions, think about your professional life as an economic developer. For each question, provide up to three names. (They can be the same three names for each of the three questions, or they can be different names for each question.) When you write the names, use first and last names. To help us with contact information, please provide e-mail addresses and telephone numbers where you can.

OEDC Annual Meeting, 2007

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Charting Your Civic Network with Three Questions First, we need to identify you on the map. Please give us your name, telephone number and e-mail: Your Name Telephone e-mail

Now let’s turn to the questions about your civic networks:

Question 1 (Getting Help): If you are trying to get something done in your job as an economic developer, like get a project off the ground, who are three people you would call for help? To whom do you turn to get stuff done? Full Name Telephone (if you know it) e-mail (if you know it)

Question 2 (Getting advice): When you have a challenging problem -- for example, the board on which you sit has some trouble with the executive director -- and you are unsure what to do, which three people would you turn to for advice? Full Name Telephone (if you know it) e-mail (if you know it)

OEDC Annual Meeting, 2007

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Question 3 (Giving advice): Now think about the advice you give. Can you name three people to whom you give advice and guidance? When you think of sharing what you know with people -- passing the torch -- who comes to mind? To whom would you reach out? Who are our “next generation leaders” in your network? Full Name Telephone (if you know it) e-mail (if you know it)

Thank you for your participation.

OEDC Annual Meeting, 2007

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