There are CIOs who thrive on networking, and CIOs who, like legendary actress Greta Garbo, just want to be alone. I've spoken to CIOs whose instinct is to jump at any opportunity to get together with their peers, and others whose natural demeanur is that of the Solitary Man.
They haven't the time to go to conferences or networking events, the latter insist, and having been to too many conferences where vendors have tried to push solutions down their throats, doubt they would get any value if they did. And anyway, they are uncomfortable engaging in information exchanges with fellow CIOs, lest they inadvertently give sensitive information away.
Now there's nothing wrong with being a naturally unsociable CIO, of course - IT was, after all, built by nerds for nerds; some of my best friends are nerds, and all that - but it seems too many "Greta Garbos" fail to realize what they're missing, and all too many of even the naturally sociable CIOs appear to be missing invaluable opportunities to network.
Everyone knows that one of the best ways to tap fresh perspectives and find answers to tough questions is to build and engage a network of fellow IT leaders (what some CIOs like to call their "network of nerds"). When you need information about specific technologies, have a seemingly intractable problem to solve, want to tap into a new way of looking at an issue or want input on what it is like to deal with a particular vendor, sociable CIOs - and unsociable ones able to mimic sociability as required - just naturally reach out to their network of nerds and confidently await their response.
And they work on building their network at every opportunity. That means they join forums like the CIO Executive Council and the AIIA and, defying any natural instinct for isolation, use the opportunity of monthly meetings to hook up with fellow attendees; go to IT conferences and user group meetings and do the same thing; and join e-mail discussion lists dedicated to topics of interest.
These guys know that tapping into their network gets them better answers faster and lets them learn from others' good and bad experiences.
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