Ashley Johnson
Ashley Johnson graduated in the winter of 2012 with a B.A. in Management of Aging Services. Johnson was extremely involved with the Erickson School as she was not only an undergraduate student, but also a member of the Project 2061 team and president of the Management of Aging Services Council of Majors. Project 2061, an inter-disciplinary collaboration among various departments at UMBC, was a highly-revered display at the 2011 LeadingAge Conference showcasing a futuristic model of a senior’s home. Using herself as one of the “personas” featured in the showcase, Johnson was able to plan her own path of “successful aging,” a task she found “very interesting and insightful.” She also valued her participation in the project as it allowed her to network at the LeadingAge Conference as well as see first-hand the many opportunities awaiting her within the growing field of aging services. Not only was Johnson involved in the innovative projects undertaken by The Erickson School, but she also serves as the president of the MAgS Council of Majors. Johnson’s goals for the Council include “bringing together the Erickson students into a closely-knit community, providing Erickson students with diverse opportunities in the field of aging services, and bringing social issues to the forefront to change the perception of aging.” Johnson has learned quite a lot in her time at UMBC as a student of the Erickson School and through her internships with The Taylor-Wilks Group and Bello Macrhe . In the future, Johnson hopes to continue her education through the completion of graduate school and ultimately become a leader in the arenas of aging and public health.

Get “Linked In” Today: Building a Meaningful Social Network

As we enter the year 2013, it is no secret that the way we connect with each other will be easier, more efficient and quicker than ever. Dating sites, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all keep us interconnected with pop culture, sports, politics, weather and personal aspects of our lives. A researcher by the name of Brian Uzzi from The Kellogg School of Management has done a tremendous amount of research on building collaboration networks and the positive effects. In 2005, Uzzi did a study on the outcomes of certain Broadway musicals and why they were greater than others between 1945-1989. He concluded that the factors to being successful or unsuccessful had to do solely with the people who were behind the productions. For unsuccessful productions, there were two factors in common. First was the collaboration between creative artist and producers who tended to all know one another. When the ties were strong, the production lacked the fresh and creative insights that come from a diverse experience. The other factor was one in which none of the artist had experience working together. When the group had weak ties, teamwork and cohesion suffered. In contrast the successful productions had a healthy balance in the social network of people behind them. There was a mix of strong and weak ties—there was plenty of established trust but yet enough “fresh pairs of eyes” in the system to generate new, innovative ideas.

Think of your own personal network of relationships in the same way: You have some contacts that are narrow and deep—more like the individuals you collaborate with on a regular basis. You also have some contacts on a wide and shallow—these individuals offer fresh information and ideas and you may not know them that well.

The founder of Linked In—a wildfire blaze of the new face of professional networking, Reid Hoffman mentions this phenomenon of networking in his new book “The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.” Hoffman gives these tips to help invest in ourselves:
In the next day:
• Look at your calendar for the past six months and identify the five people you spend the most time with – are you happy with the influence those five people are having on you?
In the next week:
• Introduce two people you know who do not know each other. Make sure the intro will be useful to both sides. Then think about a challenge you are dealing with and ask an existing connection for an introduction to someone who could help.
• Imagine you got laid off from your job today. Who are the ten people you’d email to solicit their advice on what to do next? You should reach out to them now, when you don’t need anything specifically.
In the next month:
• Pick one person in your network who is a weaker tie but with whom you might like to have a stronger alliance. Commit to trying to help him or her proactively by giving small gifts, such as sending the person an interesting article or forwarding a job posting. Invest serious time and energy in the relationship over several months.
• Create an “interesting people fund” to which you automatically funnel a certain percentage of your paycheck. Use it to pay for coffees, lunches, and the occasional plane ticket to meet new people and shore up existing relationships.

Hoffman reminds us that network intelligence– is just not who you know—it’s the people they know—your second—your third degree connections.
I encourage you to join LinkedIn today. It’s free, easy and worthwhile.

- Ashley Johnson, December 2012 Graduate MAgS B.A.