January 28th, 2013
How Well Do You Network?
Given the shrinking marketplace that we have seen over the last few years, our industry has seen its fair share of company closures, corporate downsizings and acquisitions. Sometimes I hear of people in key positions losing their jobs and it takes a long time for them to find something new. Other times, they are back in the saddle within weeks. What makes the difference?
Never underestimate the value of networking!
Keeping in touch with associates who you have worked in previous positions, current position and perhaps even a desired someday position can pay huge dividends. When an executive or manager has a position to fill, he or she will always gravitate toward a known entity as opposed to rolling the dice on somebody new.
I often get calls from executive recruiters asking me who I might know who would be a fit for a position they are trying to fill and more often than not I can help them out by suggesting someone within my network. Or oftentimes I get a call from a customer, and he says, “Jim, we are looking for someone with a special skill set – do you know anyone like this?” Networking is the fastest way to move up a corporate ladder – not necessarily within the same company but definitely within the same industry!
There are also benefits from a salesperson’s perspective. When you develop strong relationships with people whom you call on, these bonds will last a lifetime. When that person migrates to another company, you have a foothold into that company as well because of your relationship with that particular person. People buy products and services and when put into a management position they must buy the product and service combination that best fits the needs of their company. But people buy people too! And building relationships based on trust, mutual respect and even having fun together will always pay off for you in the long run. Taking time away from the business setting to hang out with your customers and simply have fun together can make them part of your forever network. They see you in a whole new light and vice versa. You both discover the human part of each other and a lasting network connection is made.
So networking is more than just clicking “connect” on Linkedin. It is taking time to discover more about your business associates outside of the immediate business of landing orders. It is an essential element of establishing long term business relationships.
Indeed the salesperson, manager or business executive who is well networked is a value asset to any company!