Why is networking important for interim managers?
To become a successful Interim Manager you need to be an effective networker… it is your main route to market.
According to the IIM Interim Management Survey 2012, 45% of interim assignments are found through intermediaries such as interim service providers. The rest are won through an interim managers own network. However, even when working through interim service providers, networking plays a very important role. In most cases you stand a much better chance of being put forward for a role by an intermediary if they know more about you than just having your CV on their database. It’s even better if they can put a face to the name.
Not many interim managers relish the idea of networking, they’d rather be getting on with delivery, but all the successful ones know the importance of networking and whether they like it or not, they invest the time to do it and to do it well.
What is networking?
Because people use networking for lots of different reasons there are lots of different definitions.
A common definition could be something like: ‘developing long-term relationships for mutual opportunities’.
Although a reasonable definition, it has two problems. Firstly it’s not exactly very exciting is it? And secondly the very essence of networking is somehow lost in this description.
Perhaps a more productive way of looking at networking is to answer two key questions. “What makes networking happen and what is it supposed to do for me?”
Heather White, an expert in networking (www.smarter-networking.com) says simply “What makes ‘networking happen’ is when two people meet, they find common ground, they ‘get/trust’ the other person and at some point over the years to come they recommend that person to another, thus creating business opportunities for them”.
“Of course there are lots of other benefits other than just straight referrals” says Heather, “such as learning about customers and markets, meeting new people and potential partners, creating awareness of your brand, being in the right place for an opportunity, learning about things (all sorts of things), building collaborations, meeting exciting people, testing out ideas on people and so on”.
The benefits of networking only happen when you have created an impact, built rapport and trust and aligned yourself to the right contacts. All too often people turn up (face to face or online) to simply see what they can get. The moment they do that they send out a signal and people sense instantly that such a person is pursuing a selfish agenda.
Remember, people buy from people. First they buy you; through you they buy trust; finally they buy your product.
- Most people feel nervous when they first start networking
- The biggest personal barrier people have to overcome is the fear of rejection
- You have to make time for networking
- Many people waste time and money by networking in the wrong places with the wrong people
- Networking and selling are not the same thing
- Most people are not natural networkers, they have to work at it
- Networking takes persistence
- Everyone can do it if they have the desire, the willingness and a genuine interest in other people.
Read Heather’s six step guide to effective networking here.