Ron Bates is a Managing Principal with the retained executive search firm Executive Advantage Group, Inc.
What is networking?
To me networking is about understanding someone’s needs and genuinely trying to help them whenever possible. In return it creates “good will”, helps raise my profile and gives me exposure in ways I’ve never even dreamed.
Experience has shown me I’ll get a business return down the road – but it isn’t something I can predict the where and when of specifically.
The growth of electronic networkingIn the US, especially within geographically dispersed corporate business realities, electronic networking is becoming increasingly important with corporate business professionals as many of the individuals important to the success of a project/business deal are in different states, regions or countries.
This makes face to face networking almost impossible and therefore electronic networking is essential to keep dialogue going. Possible exceptions to this are in areas like Silicon Valley where face to face networking is still key as many people who are key to particular corporate projects live within close proximity.
Electronic on-line forums are also a fantastic way to bridge the gap between a Group, Club, or Organization’s face-to-face networking events.
On-line forums are also a way to get people to increase their participation and actually extract value out of membership by giving members a way to simple way to interact with each other through their computer keyboards 24X7.
What is the difference between networking and selling?
A complex question. There are different types of selling just as there are different types of networking.
Selling to an individual is different than selling to a large organization where an individual can get fired for making the wrong buying decision – and the success of a buying decision can depend on the reaction and support of a number of diverse customer decision influencers at many different levels within a corporation.
In one aspect, networking is a critical part of the selling process to large organizations. It plays a key role in navigating complex corporate political realities. This is also true with respect to the – internal – selling process when you work for a large geographically dispersed organization.
Where and when do you network?
Most of the time! Mostly on LinkedIn, Ecademy, email, Skype, and the phone of course.
Networking has been an important part of my business life my entire career.
What are some of the things you do?
I’m proactive in that I initiate contact and invite people to connect to me. I then tend to be reactive in that I’ll respond and attempt to help/assist whoever reaches out to me. My bandwidth makes it hard to invest time proactively putting people together that I think would benefit from an introduction, but every once in a while I get lucky.
I’ll also write articles and respond to blogs when appropriate, and I put effort into maintaining a presence on the Internet.
I was one of 3 guest speakers in a Webinar about developing a personal presence on the Internet. Cindy Kraft personal branding consultant stated, “Some people say, If you aren’t in Google; do you even exist?”
She also offered up some interesting statistics stating, “In a recent survey by Execunet [a career-services network for executives earning $100,000 a year or more], 63% of recruiters said they Google a candidate’s name prior to talking with them, and almost half indicated they eliminate a candidate based on their findings.
A recent Harris Poll showed that 23% of individuals Google a colleague prior to meeting with them. Those statistics will continue to grow … and grow rapidly in the next few years.
If you were going to teach me how to network; what would you ask me to do?
I couldn’t answer that until I knew the reason that you wanted to network. If, like me, you wanted to develop and raise your profile I’d suggest similar things to what I say here.
I’d also emphasize starting with the approach that believe you have to lead with value (i.e., how you can help someone) first and not your own needs/objectives.
Otherwise why should people want to make contact with you? What else do you have that enables you to do this?
As a recruiter I have my own database, which typically translates into having more points of contact than people that don’t do what I do for a living, and the associated relationships that comes from being exposed to a lot of executive’s career paths over the years.
How did you learn how to do this?
Trying to learn from other people’s success, but also a lot of trial and error. Diving in and taking part, making my own mistakes and being flamed once and a while, and learning from all of it.
I remember a mentor at Hewlett Packard saying, “Skills can be taught. Hire people with the attributes you think are important since they can’t be taught.”
For example, you can’t teach “good judgment”. Unfortunately the only way you test and develop judgment is through experience – and often the best experience follows bad judgment!
What do you believe about yourself when you network?
I believe I’m extremely good at what I do, and thanks to the experience I’ve gained over the course of my career, I can add a lot of value given the right situations and variables are in play.
What do you believe about the person you’re networking with?
Everyone is unique and has a unique value in this world and worthy of someone reaching out extending a helping hand.
I also know my approach or style won’t appeal to everyone and that’s OK.
Do you have a personal mission or vision when you’re doing this?
Develop a better world by helping people, and as a result provide financial independence for myself and my family.
You’ve helped me in answering these questions; what can I (or readers) help you with?
Give me the benefit of the doubt. Connect with me.
Know that I’m open to constructive feedback, and that I’ll always attempt to assimilate it even though I may not always act on it.
In the context of what I do for a living, remember that in executive search, recruiters work for their clients rather than for the candidate; however I’ll always try to make the effort to help candidates where possible.
Ron Bates is a Managing Principal with the retained executive search firm Executive Advantage Group, Inc. His search practice focuses on mission critical retained searches for pre-IPO Venture Capital backed start-ups to Fortune500 clients.
He has delivered personal executive coaching projects to former SAP, E&Y, Oracle, and WorldCom Exec’s responsible for multi-billion dollar business units, and co-founded http://www.cv-advantage.com/ a self guided job search oriented executive coaching process.
Ron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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