‘Personal networking as a Business Tool’ is the title of a workshop I presented recently for the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This session emphasized the importance of building positive relationships which, in turn, help us to become the person of choice, firm of choice or business of choice.
Positive relationships also generate an ‘absence of malice’. When things go wrong, as they often do in business, within an existing positive relationship, we are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. So while acknowledging the importance of social media, the focus of this workshop was on the benefits of building positive relationships.
In summary, the consolidation on some of their ideas on the benefits of personal networking are:
- Personal networking is beneficial within groups and organisations and externally as well. We need to carefully identify where we play roles and who our stakeholders are. In other words, whom do we serve? And which entities or people have power over our organisations or over us? The benefits of fostering those relationships are enormous.
- Business expansion can be gained through personally engaging in a range of different activities. We thus interact with a wide range of people. For example, by playing cricket and getting to know the other cricket players and their supporters, opportunities for new avenues of communication through their networks may be recognised.
- A greater connection between personal passions and building networks which can benefit us in the work situations. For example, where we have an interest or capability, by offering to serve on committees or boards, or taking other leadership roles, we become more ‘visible’, and are also ‘in the know’ regarding developments or other information which could be helpful to us or to others, if appropriate to share.
- ‘If you grow yourself, you grow some-one else.’ Within an organisation, if we improve our product, service or the way we operate, we can more easily complete processes, enhance the over-all performance, thus lifting standards for everyone. Quality conversations play an important part in this.
- By having a ‘finger on the pulse’, we can notice issues and problems as they arise and thus solve them more quickly and easily.
- By keeping track of people, and knowing about their new positions and developments, we can create opportunities for them, for ourselves and for others.
- Willingness to help is reciprocal. If we have an attitude of ‘what can I do for you?’ others will be influenced by this. When we need help, others are more likely to notice and offer to help us.
- When we are searching for new staff, if we have positive relationships with others, we are more confident in accepting referrals from them. Thus, gaining the right people for positions in our organisations can become less onerous and the positions are more likely to be filled with ‘the right person for the job’.
- As networking involves connecting people with people, people with information and people with opportunities, the more we network, the more likely we are to recognise and be able to optimise opportunities on a larger scale for ourselves and for a wider range of people. Our networks become broader and broader.
- People get to know us, our products and our services. And we know more about others and their current and changing business needs. Thus we can more easily match our products and services to their actual needs.
- Although we all know that networking builds trust and positive relationships, the more we network, the more we are reminded of this and able to recognise and optimise opportunities.
- Through networking we are exposed to new ideas which we can transfer to our own situations. In addition, being able to test our ideas within trusted relationships creates opportunities for us to try new things, take prudent risks.
- Networking helps us to set new goals and create focus on what we want to achieve.
- Elements of time management are significant. We get things done a lot faster by knowing who to go to. And this isn’t always the decision-maker at the top. Sometimes, by having a good relationship with say, the CEO’s personal assistant, we are more likely to get the appointment with the CEO.
- By allowing more time for the important or strategic activities, there is more time available for a work/life balance. By having more quality time with family, we are able to concentrate on the important things at work and growth is more likely.
- Life is more enjoyable when we work with people we know and trust. And this applies in our formal work positions, with our families and in our community engagements, too.
- By guiding others, we develop our own leadership abilities and become recognised for those. This opens further opportunities for us and for others.
- By developing our own potential further, through networking, people begin to perceive us as an expert in a field. Thus they come to us for advice and this often makes us ‘lift our game’ and we in fact may become that ‘expert’.
- We develop our field of influence. And this can apply at a micro (internal) or macro (external) level.
For more information on our personal networking training programmes or keynotes please contact Brenda on firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 82 4993311.