I am asked regularly, “why do I need a linkedin profile?” and “why bother networking?” and my reply is always the same. “Every step we make is about the connections we’ve made”. Connections with people. Connections with ideas. People we meet today may not be people we work with today…but someday, somewhere, there’s a place for us. We can’t achieve much at all without great people around us. However, I’m discovering more and more teams where people have forgotten how to connect with others.
I’m a digital entrepreneur – with a background in delivering innovation in both big and startup companies. These days, I work remotely with customers and contacts across the World and time zones. It’s normal for me and for the teams I work with and for the type of innovation I drive – to work from wherever, whenever. We talk and work when we need to and enjoy our families and hobbies the rest of the time. BUT on reflection, I can see how I reached this point through my continuous connections and conversations.
Nurture the connections you make. If you don’t have many decent ones, go to some networking events and make some. Mix purposefully with as many people as you can! Be charming. Don’t stay talking to the same people all the time. Mix it up. Do you know the connections you have? If not, either get to know them a little or ditch them. So many of the companies I’ve been able to help over the years have become customers from recommendations. Whether it’s for product portfolio advisory, website strategy, team development, conference speaking or business transformation,
90% of my business stems from my networked connections.
Talk on the tube. For example, one role I had that led to me opening an office in New York for a digital media group with a $1m visa, came about because the MD was reading an article I wrote for a magazine. I was stood next to him on the tube…coincidentally…and asked him what he thought of it. He said, “it’s very interesting. Are you the author?” (as he glanced both at the photo in the mag and up at me). He invited me to his office and I had a great 18 months helping them grow their business with clients like First Direct, the Spice Girls media, Kenneth Cole and the Star Alliance. Imagine…talking to someone on the tube! Yes, I do regularly! But there you go…who would have imagined either the coincidence that someone would be reading something you wrote in front of you, or that having had the guts to SPEAK to them would lead to such an exciting role. These days, if someone comments on a blog post you’ve made, look them up and comment back…you never know!
Bank on the unexpected! On another occasion, I landed a role leading mobile innovation at a well known bank due to an industry relationship struck up years earlier. I had been at the vanguard of mobile development, finding ways to use mobile phones for things like ticketing and banking when phones had only just moved to colour screens. I was in my 2nd job back then, representing Vodafone with the Global Mobile Commerce Forum. Years later, one of my fellow innovation leaders was helping a VP at the bank and introduced me, after remembering my penchant for solving challenging innovation problems in complex environments. That led to an exciting role identifying £30m benefits for using mobile phones in customer relationship management.
This has happened time and again. So much so, that I am now convinced that the power of conversation, connection and not burning bridges has led to me to the work-life balance I now enjoy.
Who did you connect to today? Who did you connect to in the past that led to a future opportunity?
Would you or your team like help learning to communicate with and connect to more people both inside and outside your company?
This article was originally published on LinkedIn