Networking 101

In the last post I talked about the importance of keeping the axe sharp.  One way of doing this is to build and strengthen relationships. I have never liked the term networking. To me whenever I hear that word images of self-serving people wanting to get something come immediately to mind. An exaggeration maybe, but I think you get the idea. I much prefer to use the term relationships.

According to  one meaning of the word relationships is connection, association, or involvement. Each of these nouns assumes a two-way street. For there to be a connection, association or involvement with someone means that you are doing something and the other party is doing something. A real relationship involves this two way action.

To build and make relationships stronger requires time and effort on your part. One very effective way to do this is to serve people you want to have a relationship with or put more simply do favours.

Favours don’t have to be big, time consuming or expensive. Usually it is the small random acts of kindness that have the biggest impact. For example, one of my clients complained that they never had enough of the same drinking glasses when they held meetings with external people (like me) – it was embarrassing. It came up one day in conversation and I made a mental note that next time I was in their office (which happened to be 2 weeks later) to bring with me a set of 12 glasses. I left the box of glasses on the desk of my client and went to another meeting. I think they are still talking about it!

By doing favours for people in your current organisation (and sometimes more importantly those outside your employer) you build a reputation as a good person; someone who helps others not just him/herself.  However, all other things being equal (which is code for “if you are doing the right things the right way”) when you need help there should be those around who you can call upon for a favour!

See you next post,

James E

Keeping the axe sharp

I had a coffee a few years back with a well connected chap and we were talking about the importance of relationships in business.

At the outset of the chat the senior chap stated that it was important to keep the axe sharp.  I asked him what he meant by that. He leaned forward in his chair and asked me if I ever had the situation when I had a job to do around the house needing a particular tool I hadn’t used for a long, long time. I go to my shed, find the tool and see that it is blunt, rusty and simply not up to the job at hand. I of course replied (like most honest males out there can attest) yes. He then asked me how I felt at the time. I told him I felt frustrated and angry. Not only did I have to spend more money to buy a tool I already had purchased and owned, but the job would now take me much longer since I would have to go down to the hardware store and choose another tool from the range of dozens they would no doubt stock and try to choose. Aaaarggghhh – what a waste of time and money!

The senior chap nodded, reclined back in his executive leather chair and told me something which made a whole lot of sense. Wouldn’t it have been better to take a little bit of time and care to keep your saw or axe or whatever the tool was sharp and ready to be used just in case you ever need it? The obvious response is yes.

Well that is EXACTLY what needs to be done with the relationships and networks people have and maintain. It is far more effective to invest, build, enhance and help your network when you don’t need any help; rather than expecting your friends and contacts to help you at a moments notice when they haven’t heard you for a long, long time! sound familiar anyone?

As you know I HATE the word networking. I avoid using the word like the plague. The only reason I’m using it here is that people seem to know what it means – sort of. Tune into the next post to understand what networking really is.

Bye for now,

James E