ROR Essential Elements – 7 Network internally as well as externally


In the last of the “Essential Elements” Series, the focus is on how to maximise your Reputation in the Marketplace inside your organisation as well as outside and the impact this can have on your effectiveness and your value.

Firstly, I have to say that it never ceases to amaze me how differently many people behave in social situations from business situations – let me give you an example:

Scenario 1: In a bar, or at a party...... you walk in, greet a few people you know and then engage in social chat and general “stuff” about work and life and kids and sport, or whatever – you cement relationships, give people an understanding of who you are and what you enjoy and help to build rapport, so that these people come to know, like and trust you over time.  You meet new people and have a chat about life, the universe and everything and if you like them you might exchange details and arrange to meet up at a later date.

Scenario 2: At a “networking event”...... you walk in, head for the bar and try to engage in conversation, or get introduced by someone you know to someone you don’t know (it’s at this point it often starts getting messy).  For some reason we all have a compelling need to start selling, we have an agenda – we park our usual social skills and start looking for financial opportunities.  AAARGH!  The opportunities to build trust and rapport fly out the window and our “prospect” stops listening to what we are saying and starts scanning the room for an excuse to escape.

Scenario 3: At work ....... I tend to work inside fairly large organisations, so the following observations are in this context:  People tend to ring-fence themselves within their own group and discipline – sales stick together, “techies” stick together, Management stick together and this is further segmented by divisional boundaries, so it’s not all the techies getting together, it’s just the team in a particular area.  This tends to mean that expertise exists in silos and knowledge, skills, experience and opportunities aren’t shared as freely as they should be.

So what are the impacts of these behaviours on your Reputation in the Marketplace – your Marketplace..........?

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, you are limiting the size and quality of your network because there are many people you could (but might never) meet.  These are new people who will never understand who you are or what you do and will never get the chance to know, like and trust you and will never be able to create referrals or recommendations for you. 

In the work context, whether you’re an employee or a supplier, your probability of getting referrals, recommendations, promotion, repeat business - whatever form the recognition comes in – is vastly reduced with every new connection you don’t make successfully.

It’s really very simple - if you’re recognised as someone who does (or has done) a great job, then an organisation will want to retain you if they can – if you’re an employee, that means pay rises and promotion and if you’re a contractor, consultant, or product supplier you’re far more likely to get more work in the future.......... but ONLY if people know about you – Your Reputation in the Marketplace.

One very common old-school attitude is one of “Knowledge is power”, which often leads to people not sharing their knowledge, because they consider it to be what differentiates them and gives them leverage............. NO!  IT DOESN’T!  It’s usually done in one of two ways – “You wouldn’t understand!” or “Just let me deal with it”.  If you don’t share your knowledge relatively freely, then people don’t understand how knowledgeable you are, which means that they can’t possibly understand or appreciate your value!  Not only that, but the unwillingness to open up means people are unlikely to Like, Trust and Respect you, your Reputation in the Marketplace is actually damaged and the probability of getting referrals or recommendations is tangibly reduced.

In other words, the very behaviour that is supposedly designed to increase value, actually decreases value and can also be very damaging to the overall effectiveness of an organisation in the long-term.  Frankly, if someone can’t explain who they are and what they do well enough so that someone CAN understand their value then, in reality, their value to a modern organisation is highly questionable – how can you achieve efficient succession planning, for instance?  The only legitimate exception to this is where Intellectual Property might be jeopardised.

In summary, it’s just as important to build your network within an organisation as it is externally.  In most cases, it’s probably more important in the short-term, as this is the place where you are most likely to find opportunities to further yourself, whether you are an employee or a supplier.  The more connected you are and the greater your reputation within an organisation, the greater your value is and the higher the likelihood of referrals and recommendations – whether that comes in the form of promotion and pay rises, or more business.