Repeat after me: Everyone needs to network.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the networking needs of those who aren’t directly in sales. These are the back office workers, the managers, and even the executives who spend most of their time working behind the scenes. Many of them believe that they don’t need to network.
I still remember meeting my friend Linda Peterson for the first time. Linda is a human resources expert who also happens to have created a program called “Between Successes”. This group supports HR professionals who find themselves (voluntarily or involuntarily) “in transition” — that is, “unemployed”.
She looked at me over our cups of coffee (hot chocolate for me), “Greg, you would be surprised at these people. They work with other people all day long and yet they don’t have networks. In fact, when a new person joins our group we tell them ‘Look around. Say hello. This is the beginning of your professional network.’”
She told me about one woman who started attending the group, we’ll call her “Sally”. Sally had been an HR manager at a small company. It was one of her tasks to be the “hatchet lady”. The leadership would pass her the name of someone who was to be let go. She had to call that person into her office and, as gently as possible, let that person know that they no longer had a job. While it was by far the least favorite of her responsibilities, at least she had a job.
Until her name appeared at the top of the “to be fired” list.
When she showed up at “Between Successes” her network was a little sparse. Her coworkers and the other employees had always steered clear of her for obvious reasons. The leadership in the company were the ones who fired her. What about connections outside the company? Sally had been spending all of her time and energy on her job and didn’t think she had to look outward.
Ultimately, Sally did find a new position, but it wasn’t until after she put in the work to build her professional network. She had learned one of the most vital lessons of networking as a non-salesperson. In order to be secure and successful, of course you need to do your work, but you also need to build your network.
Because neglecting to network is strangling your success.
Photo by MJCdetroit