Few of us are natural networkers. We all know the important of networking, but invariably, we postpone it for tomorrow, because shy folks like us do not like to meet with people and make inane conversation.
It is easy to believe that social networking or internet based networking (read Facebook) is a better option. However, Facebook based networking focuses on broad-based and shallow relationships, whereas true networking requires deeper relationships.
People do things for others if they believe in the relationship. No amount of ‘likes’ and status updates (which I believe borders on voyeurism) substitute for face-to-face or at least voice-based and meaningful communication.
Meaningful communication requires
- one-to-one interaction
- where both parties are speaking (bidirectional)
and which leaves both parties happy and satisfied.
Status updates do not satisfy either of the above criteria and therefore does not help in networking.
This article from inc.com talks about networking for introverts. Lisa Petrilli, author of “The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” tells you how to:
- Network on your own terms
- Be comfortable
- Leverage your skills as an introvert
Adding to the tips in the article, you need to do the following:
- Create a 30 second brief about yourself, describing yourself, your background and your future direction (where / what do you want to go / do and why). This helps a person remember you and also how he can help you
- Find out what the other person wants to do in life. Get into specifics. This shows interest and it will help you look for real options to help the other person. If you can’t think of anything, offer to connect him to others who can help him
- Networking is not about selfishness. People sense selfishness and avoid creating a relationship. Give first before taking, or at least prove that you understand that you have to settle your debts of favours done
- Do not badger people unnecessarily, chasing after them. Your introvertism is an advantage here.
In my coaching sessions, I ask executives to behave as if they are the CEO of their lives. As a CEO you need to:
1. Develop yourself as a product or service that people desire
You are multiple products to multiple markets depending on the role you play. When you act as a subordinate, you need to convince your boss that you are an ideal product and he should keep you. When you act as a boss, you need to convince your subordinates that you are the best boss. Being the best means being the best product or delivering the best service.
2. Market yourself to all customers, internal and external to the organisation
3. Run your finances i.e. reduce costs and increase revenue to more than costs
4. Create your own motivation and recruit people to help you (network)
5. Use technology to make their processes more efficient
You need to improve all the above processes by using the right technology – be it blogs, a rudimentary CRM system, a list of birthdays in your calendar and your to-do list.
I typically do not differentiate between personal and professional life.
This article by Gibson talks about the same thing with reference to empowering employees to act as CEOs.
To quote Gibson, “Giving everyone the responsibility to set their own agenda, prioritize resources, and pull in the right people has also made our office more efficient.”
I see a lot of my proteges / mentees having a lack-lustre linkedin profile and I am saddened by it. Let me put it this way. To paraphrase an author I read some time ago (frankly I do not remember, but this is not my idea…) in your self-branding exercise, Facebook is like a pub where we meet a lot of people, have connections, but over a drink and then we all go home. Twitter is like a cocktail partywhere we speak a small sentence and then move on to the next person. Youtube is like MG Road on New Year’s Eve, everybody trying to get in front of the camera and vying for attention. Linkedin is like a trade show where we meet like-minded people.
Join the groups that talk about what we are interested in. Even if we are bystanders, we will learn a lot of what the world thinks. It is a faster way to get people’s opinions and trends that reading some boring author. I know, I am one such author.
Check the news. This news can be customised to give us articles across the globe on the topics of your choice. It is obviously a better way than perusing gadzillions of newpaper pages (online or offline)
Under the “More” section, there is “Answers” and “Skills”. We should use these more often. “Skills” creates the keywords necessary for a job search. “Answers” allow you to brand yourself as an authority as more of your answers get selected as “best” answers.
I am increasingly seeing a trend where recruiters are looking at our linkedin profiles. Apart from the ability to have an on-line rolodex for networking, it allows us to help others get jobs, and it allows us to meet people with the same interests and connect with them professionally.
In our parents’ time, joining the public sector ensured job security and perpetual employment (till retirement). Most of our parent’s generation stuck to one company throughout their working life. The economy was stable and upheavals were rare and contained.
During my time, multinational firms were the rage and we would stick with a company for a minimum of 3 years, and changed jobs maybe 6-10 times in a career spanning 40 years. During the mid life crisis, we would contemplate an alternate career maybe in the social sector or the entrepreneur bug would bite us. The economic upheavals were more frequent, and the impact could create job deficits and layoffs. However, most organisations still believed in 3-5 year plans. We could also sense the trends and change our profile accordingly to remain employed
In the next generation of employees, the economic upheavals will be more frequent and the impact on the jobs would be more severe.
- Organisations cannot come up with a strategy beyond a year, as the trend cannot be predicted, due to disruptions of technology and the economy as well as ‘black swans’
- Companies will therefore start projects in marketing, sales and production and then shut them down if the expected results do not come through or if there is a cash crunch
- Companies will outsource most of the humdrum activities like payroll, administration, even some aspects of sales and production, if these activities do not have any competitive advantage or are commoditised with no value-add
- There will be more inorganic growth by mergers and acquisitions
- Companies need to have flexibility in size and operations. This means that the workforce will always have a mix of permanent employees and consultants
We will therefore sometimes be unemployed and sometimes work as a consultant. Reality is that no company can guarantee permanent employment nor are they compelled to. If the market is down and the supply of MBAs is large, we have to accept what is given, else our pride will keep us unemployed.
This creates psychological issues, as our beliefs are governed by our parents’ beliefs – that permanent employment is good. There is a stigma attached to temporary jobs or being a consultant.
We have to accept that we may not get permanent employment. Acceptance is important and allows us to move on.
We should therefore:
- Invest in government backed investments like Public Provident Fund for long term capital creation
- Create and keep a stash equal to one year’s salary as an emergency fund
- In our CV, focus on what we know, learnt and achieved, not what designations we held
- Be ready to change jobs and locations, leaving the family behind
- Invest in skills that can provide additional employment including transferable skills
- Create and use skills that can keep you self-employed (be it music, teaching or something…) and keep the home fires burning, children’s education taken care of
- Be mentally prepared to move sideways, not necessarily upwards
- Build and maintain your network
There is a lot of wishful thinking that goes on in the name of placement. The reality is based on demand and supply.
For example, some one asked me yesterday whether they should do NSE’s Certification in Financial Markets (NCFM) modules. The objective is to get into brokerage and investment banking.
My answer was as follows:
- Salaries and jobs are determined by the demand of the recruiters and supply of the right MBAs. More about the MBA market can be found in Chapter 5 (MBA for sale – what salary will I get) of my book, “What recruiters want?”
- Investment Banking and Brokerage is attractive to MBAs, therefore this is an overcrowded market with a lot of sellers.
- There are a limited number of well-paying brokerage houses and investment banking firms. There are others, which are more discount shops with low margins and therefore with low fixed salaries and high variable, performance based salaries.
- If the impact of the European crisis spills over to India, the stock market would be down and hiring will freeze.
- If everyone has NCFM certification, then it becomes a basic requirement (hygiene factor) and not a nice-to-have factor (motivator) for hiring.
- If you do join a brokerage firm, the chances that you will actually be doing trading or company evaluation and research is minimal, given that all Tier-1 B-School graduates too want to do the same job.
- You will probably, and specially in a bad market, be asked to get more customers for the brokerage house. At best, you will be asked to create market analysis / research documents and sell them. For that you do not need the NCFM modules.
- Nitesh Mittal (a reader) pointed out that there are other options – for example, be a certified financial planner. (http://www.fpsbindia.org/)
- Sunil Dath (another reader) pointed out that there is a third option – to do a Diploma in Banking and Finance (www.iibf.org.in)