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Networking Guide

A useful guide on how to develop and nurture your global network

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Networking Guide

  1. 1. 1 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd How to Develop & Nurture your Global Network By Ben Lovegrove
  2. 2. 2 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd Contents 1 Definitions of Networking..............................................................................................................3 2 The ‘Business Case’ for Networking...............................................................................................4 3 How to Establish Trust and Credibility...........................................................................................5 Establishing Rapport ..........................................................................................................................5 Dealing with Anxiety..........................................................................................................................5 Building Trust and Confidence...........................................................................................................5 Establishing your Credibility ..............................................................................................................5 4 Networking Skills and Etiquette.....................................................................................................6 5 Setting Goals for Networking.........................................................................................................7 6 Networking Remotely....................................................................................................................8 7 What is Klout and do you have it?...............................................................................................10 Example of Klout in action ...............................................................................................................10 8 Nurturing and using your network ..............................................................................................11 9 About SML....................................................................................................................................13
  3. 3. 3 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 1 Definitions of Networking “NETWORKING is the process of gathering, collecting and distributing information for the mutual benefit of you and the people in your network” “NETWORKING means sending out into the system what we have and what we know and having it return to re-circulate continually through the network” “NETWORKING is creating relationships whereby you can help others achieve their goals, which in turn will help you achieve yours” “NETWORKING is people connecting with people, linking ideas and resources” “NETWORKING is developing long-term relationships for mutual gain” A professional networker is not selfishly looking for ‘useful contacts’, they are proactively meeting people to the benefit of all parties. Although all the research shows that networking is effective, you never know which event, call, conversation or contact is going to help you, your team or your organisation in a tangible way. There are no guarantees even with the best planned networking strategy and tactics - it is speculative and requires confidence and patience, knowing that all the time ‘wasted’ will eventually lead to the results you and/or your organisation require.
  4. 4. 4 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 2 The ‘Business Case’ for Networking Unless you can see the real value to the business of spending time in this way, networking will never get to the top of your list of priorities. Arguments for the business case could be summarised as: • Better decision-making because you have more people to call upon for information and advice • Clients and colleagues will have more confidence in you because you seem to know what’s going on in their world • Better ideas because you have listened to a wider range of people from all walks of life • You have a forum for testing out your ideas and views with people informally • You can benchmark your team or organisation and exchange best practice, especially with colleagues. • If introducing change, you can call upon people with whom you already have a trusting relationship to support or suggest improvements to your proposed plans • Knowing people in higher positions than you can be helpful for sponsorship. It’s sensible to underwrite risks by informally gathering information about how much support is likely to be forthcoming from senior management • You get things done quicker by knowing who to go to for help. Sometimes a ‘gatekeeper’ can get more done for you because of their relationship with the key decision-makers • It is comforting for team members and your managers to know you are well- connected and ‘in the know’ • The business as a whole will also benefit from you networking in a professional manner as this raises your profile and that of your team which means more effective use can be made of your talents.
  5. 5. 5 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 3 How to Establish Trust and Credibility  Establishing Rapport Observe closely as well as listening and reflecting back what you hear them say. Also empathise and encourage so that they feel you are genuinely interested and concerned. Try to smile (where appropriate!).  Dealing with Anxiety The other person may be anxious about why you are approaching him/her, whether you will be able to help or be a nuisance, what effects your presence will have, how much of their time you will require and so on. You may also be feeling anxious about being credible and able to influence. Although little can be done about anxiety over the eventual outcome, you can reduce initial anxiety by presenting yourself professionally: • explain clearly who you are, your role • identify the other person’s role and whether they are the person you wanted to speak to • listen more than you speak. Be concise and honest  Building Trust and Confidence The other person needs to trust you before the conversation can move on in a productive manner. Ultimately your own motives, willingness to help and actual behaviour will determine the level of trust at an early stage: • show genuine interest • show empathy with his/her views • display integrity with information • encourage openness by being open yourself  Establishing your Credibility You do not always need to display your knowledge and experience in relevant areas. The way you behave can help to establish your credibility. You need to manage your time well and cope with the other people's anxieties. Being visibly anxious yourself and making an elaborate presentation of your qualifications is likely to arouse anxiety and distrust.
  6. 6. 6 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 4 Networking Skills and Etiquette When you first meet someone, your only objective is to get to know them, build a relationship and find the common ground. Here are some handy tips DO relax and enjoy yourself DO spend more time listening than talking about yourself DO try to find common ground DO really attend to the person, be warm and friendly DO develop empathy, try to put yourself in their shoes and chat in a way that is most likely to connect with them. DO ask safe open questions, nothing too intrusive or sensitive DO be mindful of opportunities to be helpful to the person DO spend more time nurturing existing contacts than seeking new ones DO spend more time keeping in touch with people you like DON’T feel you have to Wow them! You need to have an impact and leave them with a clear memory as to who you are and what you and/or your organisation do, but remember at this stage you are merely trying to build trust and rapport DON’T expect immediate and direct payback from networking – that’s not how it works DON’T target the same few contacts that everyone is pouncing on Also: • If there are people with whom you find it hard to build rapport, maybe you could introduce a colleague to them, or deal with one of their gatekeepers or colleagues instead • If someone doesn’t seem comfortable talking to you, just politely move on by saying something like: ‘Please excuse me, I’ve just spotted an old colleague of mine.’ Alternatively, introduce someone else to the person before moving off again. Remember that the expectation at networking events is that people will circulate, so don’t take offence when people leave you to meet others.
  7. 7. 7 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 5 Setting Goals for Networking Networks and networking should be related to your personal and organisational goals. By applying the following criteria, you may be able to identify areas in which you might want to improve your networks and networking. Assess your network against the following criteria:  Those who can help you to achieve your goals: Whatever your goals in life, your chances of achieving them and getting things done are greater when others work with you and help you. They may be inside or outside your workplace.  Organisational power-brokers: You should have a close ally in your organisation who knows the culture, who plays a role in shaping that culture, who has a political sense of the attitudes of people in power, and who is aware of how to use the processes and procedures to gain approval. To be a power-broker, the person must support and demonstrate the organisation’s values; must be central and critical to work flow; must be flexible, involving a lot of discretion; must be visible, necessitating interaction with many people; and must be relevant to the tasks and priorities of the organisation. A power- broker's personal attributes must include expertise, a willingness to expend extra effort and strong interpersonal skills.  Stakeholder-identifiers: You should know one or more people in your organisation who can identify those who have a stake in any issue that you wish to promote. A "stakeholder" is someone who has to change his or her job or behaviour in some way so that a new policy or change can be implemented. Stakeholders come from all parts of your organisation and outside and may have very different stances on any issue. Some might feel that your goal is a good one, that achieving it would help them; others might oppose you; still others might be indifferent or neutral towards your goal. People who can identify stakeholders for you usually have been with the organisation for a long time and are astutely aware of the culture as well as most staff's concerns and "turfs".  Those who can get things done for you: In the context of your present work you should know at least as many people below you in the organisation as above. These people enable you to get things done effectively at work.  Those you can count on in a crisis: Most specialists in stress management recommend that you have a good support system that you can count on no matter what. Do you have a trusted advisor whom you can turn to for emotional support on work- related issues?  Those you can share activities you enjoy with: You should have people in your network with whom to share activities that you enjoy. This may help sustain a healthy work-life balance as well as providing new insights. If your network does not meet any of these criteria and they are important in meeting your goals, then you will need to work at developing your network in these weak areas.
  8. 8. 8 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 6 Networking Remotely In this time-poor world we need to make sure we use our networking time effectively. Spending quality time on-line is one way to do this. It allows us to connect with an amazing number of people and make sure that our network is properly nurtured. Plus, having an on-line presence is expected these days. If someone meets you for the first time and thinks they may want to know more about you, the first thing they are likely to do is look you up on Google! If you’re not there, or if the only things they find are your holiday snaps on Facebook, what does that tell them? As with face-to-face networking, to be really effective on-line networking needs to be planned, making sure we turn up in the right places on-line, where we can interact with the right people. Plus we need to give a clear and consistent message about ourselves. On-line networking is of course also a great option for those who really don’t enjoy networking events! How to choose your on-line network There are a number of factors to consider: Do you have a clear and consistent message on-line? Once you have decided what on-line networks to join, you will need to write a summary or profile. Consider what people absolutely need to know about you to help them understand who you are and what you do. Get other people to give you feedback – does your on-line profile really capture you? Once you have established your “message”, make sure that it is consistent wherever you show up on-line – including any intranet sites you may appear on. • Size – the biggest networks give you more scope and opportunity and are potentially more time efficient • Credibility – look for networks who have the “right type” of people • Relevance – is this the type of community where discussions are relevant to you? • Specialism – can you flex, showcase, share and develop your expertise here?
  9. 9. 9 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd Start sharing Sharing good information with your network contacts is a great way to stay in touch and be a good resource to them. Everything interesting that you read or see, think who else may like to see this too? Have you “Googled” yourself lately? Check your “Google” profile from time to time – make sure that what people see is what you want them to see. The more active you are on- line the more likely you are to be found quickly
  10. 10. 10 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 7 What is Klout and do you have it? Klout measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others which in turn increases your Klout score. The best way to increase your score is to consistently create great content that people want to share and respond to. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure: 1. True Reach: How many people you influence Your True Reach is the number of people you influence. It is focussed on the people who are acting on your content. When you post a message, these people tend to respond or share it. 2. Amplification: How much you influence them Your Amplification is how much you influence people. When you post a message, how many people respond to it or spread it further? If people often act upon your content you have a high Amplification score. 3. Network Impact: The influence of your network Your Network Impact indicates the influence of the people in your True Reach. How often do top Influencers share and respond to your content? When they do so, they are increasing your Network score. Example of Klout in action Audi used Klout to identify 217 Influencers in Design, Luxury, Technology and Automotive. They invited them to test-drive the 2011 Audi A8. Those influencers then spread the word through their large audiences to a True Reach of 3.1 million people.
  11. 11. 11 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 8 Nurturing and using your network As well as making new relationships, you also need to spend time nurturing your existing ones. Here is another checklist against which to assess your current networking practises and start incorporating new ones: Develop an effective contact system Keep relevant data on all your contacts in an accessible format and continuously up-date it. Such data might include: contact details, when and where you met, highlights of your conversations, circumstances of your meeting, who introduced you, any interesting information, follow up action. Be approachable Even though you are busy you must create time to make contact with people, maybe just to ask people ‘What’s new?’ Leave your door open to encourage callers and sound approachable on the phone. Be available at all times other than when you have assigned ‘quiet time’ to complete important work such as writing reports or proposals. Don't convey the message through words or tone that you don't appreciate being interrupted or visited. Get out there and start calling on others for a chat, sending e-mails, notes of appreciation, information that might be relevant to them. Return phone calls within 24 hours. Develop a diverse network Information gathering is a continuing and involved process. No one person is likely to tell you everything he or she knows. You may get some facts from one colleague, opinions from another and rumours from a third. These bits and pieces must all be put together in order to determine exactly what is going on. Thus the more sources of information you have the more accurate knowledge you will get. Decide on what information is important to you and whom you can trust to supply it accurately. Make sure that you are approachable and accessible to a wide range of people. Reciprocate People won't feed you information forever without getting something in return. If you share information with plenty of people, you will become known as someone who is ‘in the know’, a valuable contact for others and so you will attract more contacts. Make a point of passing on what you can, again, not always to the same person. Try to connect people who will be able to help each other.
  12. 12. 12 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd Be proactive in seeking ways to help others Not all types of information can be put to immediate use, but certain information can often trigger action that will later be beneficial to you. Meanwhile, are there people you know who might be interested in this information? Always be alert for opportunities to help as many people as possible to stay in the loop. Get to know whom you can trust Some people will be indiscreet, talk too loosely or misuse your information. You will get to know whom you can trust and whom you can't. Furthermore, you will get to know who usually has accurate information and who doesn't. If you are seen as a person in the know, someone who handles information with integrity and who is sincere and trustworthy, you will soon have the respect and attention of others, who want to be close to someone who is on top of things.
  13. 13. 13 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd 9 About SML With over 30 years’ experience we are a global leader in the design and delivery of Leadership and Management Programmes. SML work with a range of businesses from SME’s to global blue chips, with clients including Citibank, EDF Energy, HSBC, Jumeirah Hotels Group, NHS, as well as Central & Local Government. Our consultants have built up a strong reputation for delivering innovative, bespoke and blended learning solutions including forum theatre and Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT). Being Chartered Occupational Psychologists with a minimum 5 years’ experience of delivering training programmes and HR/OD consultancy they are able to combine an understanding of the latest thinking with practical experience of how to apply this knowledge in a business environment. Open Courses Reflecting our success in providing an end-to-end consultancy service we offer a menu of Open Courses which can also be delivered in-house or via our own Web-Ex Training Centre. Networking Skills One of our most popular courses is ‘Networking Skills’ the aim of which is to equip you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to become a professional networker both within and outside your organisation. Participants in this half-day workshop (including lunch) will come away with:  An understand why networking is an essential professional skill across all sectors, functions and ranks  Be able to establish trust and credibility when meeting people from diverse backgrounds  Be confident and appropriately relaxed and informal when starting conversations with 'strangers', including people who are very senior and/or experts from a completely different discipline / profession  Have a strategy and plan for developing and nurturing your existing network of business contacts, both remotely and face-to-face When This course will take place on 24th October 2013, 15th November 2013 and 3rd December 2013 You can book a place on this course by calling Nicole on 01276 679600 or via our website www.smltrainingandconsultancy.com
  14. 14. 14 of 14 © SML Training & Consultancy Ltd Autumn 2013 Open Courses Full details for each course including Aims and Objectives can be found on our website www.smltrainingandconsultancy.com

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