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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Network: Fifteen Emerging Leaders Stronger

“Who’s in your network?” It’s a question we ask our Fellows, the social entrepreneurs my organization funds, fairly often when we’re helping them approach a challenge or seize an opportunity for their fledging organizations. And I’ve noticed that when we talk about the value-add of our Fellowship program to the 3,000 social entrepreneurs vying to be one of the 1% named a Fellow of our organization, my colleagues and I pretty quickly gloss over the stipend and technical assistance. Our informal and formal pitches alike emphasize the value of our community.

So tomorrow is our last Emerging Leaders NYC 2013-2014 cohort session, and it’s a good time to take stock: Eight sessions later, who’s in my network, my community?

Earlier this week, I received an email from an award committee asking my organization to nominate our Fellows their social innovation prize, referencing that they got my contact information from a member of my EL cohort.

Two months ago, I was hitting a wall in an outside-of-work project that involved developing a curriculum for middle school students about self care and mental health. I explained my challenge to a member of my EL cohort and within a week, I had two examples of culturally sensitive, thoughtful, and engaging curricula in my inbox.

For the past month, I’ve been in close contact with a member of my EL cohort looking to transition to a role within my organization. I sent in a brief note of recommendation that accelerated her phone interview with our search consultant, which, of course, she aced. We met for drinks to talk about the exciting and the challenging of the job—and what personality quirks she could expect from athe second phase: an in-person interview with two of my close colleagues. And after that interview, when the key decision-maker in the hiring process asked how well I knew the candidate, I said heard her perspectives on effective habits of leadership, witnessed and benefitted from her peer coaching, watched her excel with public speaking, learned about how she approaches problem solving and internal politics at her current job—with humility, maturity, and no ego.  I was soccer-mom proud when I learned she had made it to the assignment phase of the process. Fingers crossed for the next few steps!

As I look forward to the next phase of my own career, I’m both excited and comforted by the knowledge I’ll be able to continue to draw on the most valuable part of this program: fifteen amazing nonprofit leaders—now a little more “emerged” than we were eight sessions ago—in my network.

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