Networking in the Connected AgePosted in : HR Updates on 22 September 2016 Issues covered:
This month we consider how best we can build meaningful and productive business relationships. An essential skill in modern times, which spans every function and sector. We include some top tips taken from current thinking.
What are we talking about?
We are constantly reminded about how complex the world of business has become. We are global, interconnected, in the cloud, virtual and remote all at the same time. We have never been so accessible – all this prevails despite my stubborn and futile attempts to ignore alerts to the insistent IMs, emails, social and professional networking requests; that alluring ping is irresistible every time.
While companies continue to expand their reach across geographies and markets, technology continues to help accelerate the establishment of otherwise difficult connections. Think Skype, FaceTime et al. But technology aside we all appreciate that people do business with people and it is easy to discourage the unwanted attentions of an e-marketer, spam and junk folders notwithstanding. We still like to see ‘the cut of someone’s jib’, the glint in their eye and the tone of their voice. Mehrabian encompassed this in his communication model, something our global interconnectedness cannot overcome.
Developing networks might be easier than before. Most of us will have accepted a request to connect with someone we don’t know in expectation that the connection might be valuable someday or, we simply liked the look of them. (LinkedIn profile photo protocols aside, an entirely different discussion.)
Building meaningful, productive business relationships will continue to depend on our ability to win people over and get them on our side. There is much written about effective networking skills and the importance of personal influence if you want to survive the cut and thrust of international business not to mention the cultural intricacies of working across borders. Researchers from the University of Toronto asked 165 lawyers from five offices around the country about their networking habits. Lawyers who used professional connections were more successful and more powerful within the firm.
This is a complex subject that can delve deep into how to maximise effectiveness across different networking terrains, online and face to face. If, however, like me your anxiety levels rise prior to a large event or conference, here are a few top tips for networking that you can implement today.
- Research the people you want to make contact with in advance of the event. What common interests do you share that might spark their interest or curiosity. One to one conversations are much less stressful than addressing a group of potentially new contacts.
- Introverted? If you are the reflective thinker who is uncomfortable at the thought of making the first move then reach out in advance via social media LinkedIn, Twitter and so on; it’s easier going up to someone who is expecting you to be there.
- Finally, handing out business cards is not a competitive sport. Give yourself a target and stick to it. By developing limited yet meaningful connections you’ll get a sense of achievement and less of the anxiety. Always follow up on the exchange of cards by making a call or a connection via social media (such as LinkedIn or Twitter).
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