The phrase “networking is just a letter away from not working” reflects the pervasive negative sentiment associated with deliberate attempts to build, maintain or leverage one’s professional network.

But despite the negative connotations associated with networking, individuals continually engage in behaviour – be it deliberate and strategic, or ad-hoc and spontaneous – that changes their social network and how valuable a resource it represents. Entrepreneurs in particular actively shape their professional networks to access key knowledge, capital and other resources.

Likewise, innovators at large corporations are aware of the crucial role played by social network resources, such as social capital, in generating new ideas and gaining support to realise projects.

    What we're doing

    This EU-funded research programme is based around the idea that the reason the most innovative individuals have better networks could be down to more effective networking behaviour. For example, by building the right connections at the right time or making good decisions on when to use their network.

    Clusters of entrepreneurial activity within the innovation community may thrive not simply because of the valuable social capital individual innovators and entrepreneurs may have access to. Instead it could be they are home to network-savvy individuals that know how to build valuable social capital and how to leverage it successfully.

    To assess the role of networking behaviour in driving innovation and entrepreneurship, our research programme aims to build a network behavioural approach to understanding the network-innovation relationship. At the micro-level, a better understanding of networking behaviour is important, as it will help shed light on some of the fundamental individual-level mechanisms through which networking facilitates innovation. At a macro-level, understanding the role of networking behaviour in capitalising on local network opportunities is critical to a better understanding of why some places are more vibrant and innovative than others.

    IB Knowledge


    Principal Investigator: Anne ter Wal

    Team members and collaborators: Paola Criscuolo, Balint Dioszegi, Rand Gerges Yammine, HeeJung Jung, Lisa Makarova, Namrata Malhotra, Damiano Morando

    Funder: European Research Council, Starting Grant, Horizon 2020

    Duration: March 2017 – February 2022