How to Use the Social Web to be a Star at Work

A few years ago, I was in a graduate leadership program at Carnegie Mellon University and took a class from a talented educator and author named Robert E. Kelly.  Dr. Kelly had just written a book called “How to be a Star at Work.” (disclosure: I am receiving no affiliate income from this or any other book!)

Honestly, I thought it was going to be one of those kick-your-feet-up, blow-off kind of classes, but it ended up being one of the most interesting sessions of the program.

We all know that certain people tend to rise to superstar level at work. They may not be smarter or harder working than others, but they have a certain “something” that seems to push them up the corporate ladder.

Dr. Kelly had a research grant to determine the factors that these high-fliers had in common. After all, if you could actually test for these factors, wouldn’t that have a powerful impact on corporate recruiting and training?  Turns out it wasn’t that simple, but after years of investigation he eventually found the magic formula.

According to Dr. Kelly’s research, one of those key characteristics of a corporate rock star is an ability to effectively network and find information quickly.  Let’s say you had two employees — Tom and Tammy — equally well-educated, enthusiastic and nattily-attired.  But Tammy had just one advantage — she knew how to use technology to rapidly find the people and resources she needed to accomplish a task while Tom picked up a phone and started calling people in the company directory. The research showed that Tom had no hope of ever catching up and the more complex the task, the further Tammy would outshine him.

It makes a lot of sense.

I’ve already written about the importance of personal “technological adaptability” as an increasingly important life skill. But Dr. Kelly’s research seems to indicate that expert networking skills like an ability to navigate the social web can also be a crucial differentiator in your career.

So there.  Now you can explain to your spouse that all that time you’re wasting on Twitter is actually a career-advancement opportunity! You may be just 140 characters away from the tweet smell of success.


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