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Derek Bishop

Culture Consultancy

Director

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Engaging in networking

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When you got into the office this morning what did you do?  Did you perhaps say hi to people as you grabbed your first cup of coffee, read and responded to e-mails, jumped into a meeting or took a call?  Whatever you did, the chances are that it involved some form of communication or interaction with others and that means in some way you were networking.

In the same way as a company’s culture is formed of all the internal and external interactions which it has had since day one, so too do our own personal brand images flux in response to everyday interactions.  Every time we chat or have a meeting, every time we e-mail or call, every time we update social media we are sending out a message.  More importantly, that message not only reflects back on us, it also says something about the organisation we represent. 

But our interactions are far more important than simply as outward representations of ourselves or of organisational culture.  Interactions also act as important building blocks in the creation of a network of people who can add to our business success.  The person you meet networking today could be the one individual who you can call on to solve a problem in two year’s time.  Alternatively the colleague with whom you spend an idle five minutes at the coffee machine may come up with the answer to a business process challenge which has been baffling you for ages. 

When we get networking right, 1+1 can equal far more than 2.  It’s one of the reasons why getting rid of silos is one of the fundamental changes required to create an innovation culture.  It’s also why so many start-ups are initially successful as they work on a flat structure and encourage interaction; even bringing customers and suppliers into the design mix.  

In short networking is creative; networking opens up possibilities and can be a huge force for good both within and outside our businesses.  So why do so many people dismiss networking as a waste of time?  The answer is simply one of approach.   If you go into networking with a ‘what’s in it for me’ expectation then you will get nothing out.  People buy from people may be a cliché but it is one which has a strong basis in fact.  Networking isn’t about getting sales or leads, it is simply about making connections. 

Whether it is a water cooler moment or a formal business lunch, whether you are replying to a customer e-mail or posting an update on twitter doesn’t really matter.  It’s all networking and the same basic rules apply:  be interested, be interesting, respond in a timely manner and make the person with whom you are interacting feel as though they are the most important individual for you at that moment.  So answer correspondence promptly, don’t let your eyes wander around the room when talking to someone and even if they are the most tedious person you have ever met, still come up with a question which will encourage them to further expand on their area of expertise.

Mankind is a social animal and it doesn’t take much to be sociable.  Get it right and both you and your organisation will benefit.  Get it wrong and not only will your individual brand image suffer, so too will that of your business.

Author Profile Picture
Derek Bishop

Director

Read more from Derek Bishop
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