• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Networks mean contracts

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Ever wonder how some people got to be in the “circle”? How did they get there? Do I have what it takes?

Recently I was watching some of the Youtube clips of Lloyd Blankfein. What was supposed to be a period of understanding in greater depth the 2008 financial crisis, turned into a lesson of being shamelessness! I was wowed by the prowess of Lloyd Blankfein. Here is a CEO, caught in the middle of a storm that has engulfed him and the largest financial investment company in the world that he leads.

He is torn apart and proved reckless and irresponsible as the leader of the company and for negligently or knowingly leading investors astray. Then comes his turn to read his acknowledgement of what exactly, Goldman Sachs was accused of. This was not a about getting himself out of trouble, Lloyd Blankfein literally brought the house into his confidence, despite being wrapped for the world’s greatest recession.

The art of the networker came to mind. He was phenomenal in his strategy. Like having a look of guilt on your face, but at the same time having the strong confidence in his eyes. Which do you believe? Well, don’t believe me, believe that he still has his job despite his company having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for admission of negligence. Maybe this is what got him to the top in the first place.

Networking is not just for the elites. A study of staff at a range of German workplaces, carried out over three years by Hans-Georg Wolff and Klaus Moser of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, found a positive correlation between the amount of effort the workers said they put into building contacts—inside and outside their offices—and their pay rises and career satisfaction. “Networking can be considered an investment that pays off in the future,” it concludes.

I once heard someone say, “Flattery will get you everywhere”. This is completely true, well don’t be overbearing, they’ll spot you coming. Everyone loves some flattery. Almost in passing or by the way, especially if you don’t know the person but can share a critical piece of knowledge about their work or achievement, the way they looked in a particular magazine or newspaper article. Do your homework.

Yes, even palpably insincere, computer-generated flattery works. In 1997 B.J. Fogg and Clifford Nass of Stanford University invited people to play a guessing game with a computer, which gave them various types of feedback as they played. People were even impressed by compliments from a computer. Human nature is fallible, even business people. So don’t be afraid to approach, especially if some of the leaders sense you take the event you may be attending fairly seriously. Stick your hand up and ask a deep, but sensible question. There bound to be a few, “who was that?”

So you’ve broken the ice. You best have something to say here after. Find the fissure in the persons armour. Research the person and get to follow their train of thought in certain areas and probe one or two areas of interest. Says Julia Hobsbawm of Editorial Intelligence, a firm which coaches executives on how to network, says that it is like exercise and dieting, “You need to incorporate it into your daily routine.”

Some of the more astute networkers follow the network events faithfully. Networking has become part of their duty for work and progression in the work place. It is no secret that well networked people earn more than those who don’t. Did Hans-Georg Wolff and Klaus Moser of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, they found a positive parallel between the effort workers said they put into building contacts both inside and outside their offices, in relation to their pay increases and career satisfaction. “Networking can be considered an investment that pays off in the future”.

Networking is really hard work. But it pays off. Social media is abuzz these days and it is a great platform to follow some of the leaders in your area. It can also be damaging. Depending on where you live, if it’s a small city, it can become smaller if you use social media to criticize someone in the link of the network you trying to get into. It helps to remain positive, frank in a subtle way, but positive. Even in conversations it helps to hold an opposing view but then make your way back to alignment of what the person was saying. It holds towards having a constructive conversation.

The Purposeful Chance

Do you play golf, do you cycle or are you involved in social upliftment projects? The people you are looking to meet, what do they enjoy doing for relaxation or where do they conduct some of their business? Spend some time roaming through internet articles, pictures or events that your ‘target’ is involved in. this gives a multi-layer perspective of the person. Ensure you have read some of their quotes, if there are any.

Think about volunteering at one of their charities they support or founded, without introducing yourself beforehand. This may be a way to perform and have someone mention the great voluntary work you have been doing….you will be invited to the round of golf at the exclusive golf club, or out to lunch, and even better, you may be mentioned by the person him or herself. There is stride to this strategy and the permutations are endless.

There is nothing more exciting for a business leader than to get to know someone who is willing to work to get to the top. The networking is just the interface. It’s like our relationship with Microsoft. We only get to see the interface, but the nitty gritty is actually by the programmers behind the scenes that make it work. Many business leaders prefer to work with people like that. These are also the one’s that, as the cream, rise to the top. Make sure you open and close the curtain for the business leader you admire. Don’t even think of sharing the stage with him or her, not yet anyway. You have to be placed there.

Never forget to drop that email, using the email on the business card you received. Follow-up on the conversation you have had – it shows real interest to further not only the conversation but indicates your interest and intention to establish a platform for building a relationship.

Remember, all the fluffy stuff is only to get you in the door. Be sure to show the real you when inside.

Source: Ventures Africa