Technology leaders have demanding jobs and as a result time will always be at a premium. Investing properly in professional networking can easily slip off the list of priorities, but it shouldn’t.
If you’re looking to improve your networking efforts and utilise the contacts that you’ve got as effectively as possible, the first question you may ask is what constitutes a strong professional network? We would define it as a group of personal contacts you can freely call on to provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information. The immense value in having quick access to these capabilities should be instantly recognisable but building this capacity takes time, effort and requires regular investment. Here Laudale’s Executive Search Consultant Jonathan Basnett provides three useful tips for investing in and improving your professional networking efforts and the issues which may arise if you don’t.
Network thoroughly in your own organisation
This sounds obvious but ask yourself honestly how well you have done it? Building meaningful cross function relationships isn’t easy. People are busy and naturally focus on their own domains. Many technology leaders are looking to break down silo’s in their department but how many are helping do this in the wider business? Having relationships with colleagues, not just your peer group, in other departments will make it easier for you to acquire information and get things done quickly. True business collaboration opens up more opportunity for internal innovation avenues to drive change and technology can be the spearhead of this. So, if you haven’t already, start making dedicated time for professional networking in your own business.
Networking for your career
Career networking should not be reserved purely for those in interim or contract leadership roles. We find that a number of technology executives with a long tenure in a role under-invest in their career network and suffer when they need to look for their next opportunity. Its advantageous to maintain a good understanding of the job market in your domain. A good way to do this is staying in touch with former colleagues and people in your community. Investing time in identifying trusted advisors that can give you insight, advice and make introductions to the right people is a powerful way to boost your career networking opportunities.
Networking with suppliers
Having healthy vendor relationships can yield serious advantages. Suppliers can also be important sources of information, helping you evaluate the potential of new products, track competitors’ actions and uncover new opportunities. Vendors can turn into partners, helping you cut costs and improve products or capabilities. If you don’t prioritise networking with suppliers, you’re likely to regret it, given technology moves at such a pace there is no room for insularity in modern enterprise. Networking closely with your existing suppliers will build relationships that will allow you to understand if you are getting the best service at the right price. Keeping them at arms-length actively prevents this. With technology becoming more and more central to core business operation it’s the technology executives’ duty to keep abreast of the latest developments and networking effectively with suppliers is a quick and easy way to do this.
How do you make the most of your network?