Maggie is HR consultant with TietoEnator in the UK. TietoEnator is the largest IT service company in the Nordic countries with a turnover of about 1.5B EUR Maggie is responsible for HR services to 300 people in 3 locations and the recruitment of IT specialists and top end sales people.
What is networking?
Helping people and asking people for help. Helping people definitely comes first.
It’s also about developing a web of social and business people and keeping in contact with them. There is often a crossover between social and business networking.
Where and when do you do it?
To an extent everywhere but particularly at work. We’ve had a number of redundancies where I can I use my network to help people.
I’m continually developing my relationship with recruiters and training agencies and anyone I meet where there is something in common.
About 60% is on the phone and 40% face to face. I use outlook and keep an excel spreadsheet of my address book complete with birthdays and other relevant information.
Networking is so much a part of me that it’s probably going on in the background even when I have time off!
What specifically do you do?
In a way it starts with a mental attitude – I’m interested in people. And I believe everything in the end comes down to people.
I think it’s important that you’re precise about what you can and can’t do for people. I always ask for what I want and encourage others to do the same. If I can’t do something I’ll say so up front and offer some alternative approaches.
When I was younger I used to take on more than I could handle and became ‘overloaded’ which didn’t help me or anyone else. I’ve now developed the capability of being very clear about what I’m taking on.
I’ll always aim to meet and beat people’s expectations.
I’ll keep in contact by occasionally dropping people a card or a note. I think it’s unusual to use the written word so I think it creates an impact. I’ll keep in contact with people to show I’ve remembered them. I like it when people do the same to me.
I don’t think it’s effective when you only contact people when you need them.
How did you become good at it?
I’ve always been a party animal so I intuitively have many of the skills.
One thing that I think is important that even while at school – (which wasn’t always the happiest days of my life) I made a commitment to continually improve my ‘people skills’ – and have made a conscious effort to do ever since.
If you were going to teach me about it, what would you ask me to do?
I don’t think you can just turn on networking; I’d want to know what you do now before advising you.
However I do think it’s important that you’re upfront and honest about what you’re doing. I think we’re all switched on enough to spot people who are trying to manipulate us.
If someone was starting from scratch I’d suggest keeping a record of everyone you came across with a common interest and kept in contact from time to time. However be natural – I don’t think its something you can force.
What do you believe about yourself when you network?
I’m interested in people and really enjoy human interaction. As I said before I think everything comes back to people.
I think networking is easy; and yet while I’m quite ‘gutsy’ I can occasionally find it difficult to go up to people I don’t yet know. I guess that the way you respond is the challenge, and being able to positively manage any apprehension is vital.
I’m a good listener – I can repeat back what people have said, and I seem to have the ability to naturally ‘absorb’ what people say and anything about them.
Do you have a personal mission and or vision when you network?
Helping people and asking people’s help – it gives me great satisfaction! I also think I “walk the talk” when it comes to “doing as you would be done by”.
I think it comes down to simply making a difference to others, it doesn’t have to be a “grand gesture”, just the right thing at the right time and place.
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