There is an emerging opinion that things get done in an organization more through social networks and less through the chain of command. The best place to start on this topic is the great Wikipedia article which sets you up with the basics. In brief, you are only partially a person who does the work in your job description under the orders of your manager.
An alternate way of thinking about this is that you pass along opportunities, ideas, and opinions through the web of people you know. These are the people you meet around the office, at the coffee station, at lunch, or in the lead-up to meetings. It’s not just your friends, but your friends-of-friends and beyond. This environment – the social network – is a force to be reckoned with and can be more powerful than the chain of command. Having a diverse network, keeping tabs on old friends, and talking with people who unsettle your complacent views are the things you need to stay in the game.
One of the areas where social networks are most powerful is in the transmission of new information. If you can keep a good rapport with people who can feed you data, this is a good idea regardless of whether it is in your job description. And those who create the information need that larger network of data consumers to give their new findings some reach. We need each other.