Do your team’s network as efficiently as you?
Over the last 10 years, I have literally met 10’s of thousands of people networking, mostly across the Thames valley in events from free networking to very formal at Windsor Castle. The one area that often surprises me is the professional services sector. As a whole, they are very active on the network scene, and indeed some hold events at their own premises. The area of surprise is the difference in networking skills that the staff have. The senior partners are usually very well versed in the skills and represent their company well, but as you slide down the seniority things aren’t always so good. When you hit the junior levels it gets worrying.
I often tell the tale of meeting 2 nice chaps at a chamber event in Buckinghamshire and spoke to them at different times during the networking part of the event. All seems normal until you consider that I thought they were not from the same company by what they had said, let alone the same office!!! They both told a different story, and this was not letting the other attendees know who they were and what they were there for, in fact, it was damaging their reputation, I mean if 2 people from the same office cant be on the same hymn sheet how can they handle my finances efficiently.
We spoke to both of them after and pointed out what had happened and their defense was that they were just told to go to the event to represent the company. This is not an excuse but I have sympathy for them as they were in the same boat as so many others I had seen before and have met since. We contacted their manager and offered to train them and any others. The manager, whom I did not know, was happy to book them on a chamber Networking Masterclass that the chamber was running.
These two chaps were lucky that their manager had good sense and understood the risk of sending juniors out without training, but so many others were far less lucky. The Chamber ran these Masterclasses for a while but they never really caught on, although having attended one I thought the content and presentation was top notch.
Now I am helping smaller companies to understand how to network efficiently, I thought it a good idea to approach larger companies with teams that go networking. This has hit a chord with 2 companies and we are in the discussion stage but both senior partners I know and networked with for many years and they see the issue once I had pointed it out.
So are you one of these companies or work with one where the senior people network well but the team less so? I would be very interested in talking to them to raise awareness of this challenge.
Remember just because you are a seasoned networker does not mean your team are at a good enough level, and also remember in the professional services industry there is a flow of new faces each year, was one of the modules they studied on Networking. I doubt it.