Category Archives: strategic alliances

Do you have a “Go-To” Top 10?

Who are your Go-To Top 10?

Who are your Go-To Top 10?

All of us have situations which are problematic. They can range from  minor irritations and something irksome, to outright  emergencies.    To get out of a hole we might need repairmen, baby sitters or service providers in a wide range of fields.  But one area which we woefully neglect  is the development of strategic alliances to support an emergency in our careers.

We all need a ‘Go-To” Top 10.

These will be your top 10 top professional connections to whom you can turn in a crisis or even with a problem or a question.

All our requirements are different when we assess who should be included on that list.  Broadly speaking there are some general guidelines that apply to us all.  There will be variations according to the severity of the situation:  whether it’s a little situational glitch, a specific question or something more major requiring a full  emergency landing.

  • Go-To Top 1 : Do you have a mentor?  This would be the senior or elder states person in your professional life who can share their deep experience and wisdom.  This will be immediately calming and informative as appropriate,  or both.
  • Go-To Top 2 :  Do you have an internal sponsor?   This role will be filled by a  confidante,  a door opener,  someone whose  professional status and standing will be sufficiently significant to catalyze responses to calls and emails,  or even better to effect introductions to contacts beyond your reach .
  • Go-To  Top 3, 4 and 5: Do you have external sponsors?  See above,  but with a wider reach in your geographic region or functional or market sector.  Having one for each segment of activity would be even more beneficial. If you have connections in line with your longer term goals so much the better.
  • Go-To  Top 6: Do you know a super-connector?  This will be different for all of us.  I count on my super connectors,  but in turn fulfill that function for others. They are the ones who say  ” Let me think… have you tried …????.”
  • Go-To Top 7  Do you know a curator? We all come across the person whose catch phrases are ” have you seen? or ” have you read?” These individuals will be veritable gold mines of information, sometimes obscure, sometimes less so. They will know where to look for any key information on and  in the latest emergency and can send you there quickly, thus saving you hours of valuable time.
  • Go-To  Top 8:  Do you have a port in a storm? We all need a sympathetic shoulder to lean on,  some one who will be there only for us. Their role is not to advise  but perhaps put the kettle on,  open a bottle of something cold and white (or warm and red) and just listen neutrally.   Very often this role is best  fulfilled outside an intimate relationship,  although  not always.
  • Go-To Top 9:  Do you have a devil’s advocate?   Their role in any Go-To Top 10 is to give you the viewpoint from the other side. Their skill in constructive communication will be peerless as they force us to examine our own roles and responsibilities in any debacle and communicate that to us in a way we can hear .  They risk our moods, wrath and petulance or even worse. They are people who know us well.
  • Go-To  Top 10:  Do you have a  list of specialists  Whether this includes doctors, lawyers, coaches, bank managers   accountants or any other type of professional  or technical specialist, it’s always useful to have a full,  up to date list of people you can call on.  If anyone in a network has no problem being contacted out of the blue after years of neglect, it’s usually because they are charging a significant fee.

Who would you put on your list?

Personal Branding Conflict: Ownership of Online Connections

Storm brewing over online connections

 A problem waiting to happen.

Personal Branding  as a career management tool for all employees and job seekers has been strongly encouraged since Tom Peters urged us all to become our own Chief Marketing Officers.  Today,  many employees network strategically in both their personal and professional lives to create an effective career strategy and now have strong personal brands.But could it be we are headed for a clash?

Personal vs Corporate
This  recent development is proving to be challenging for some businesses, as they are becoming aware of a growing need to manage employee individuality within the context of their own organisational structures. Some are now playing catch up.

I had two interesting conversations this week. Both made me think that there ‘s trouble brewing out there in cyber space, the ramifications of which we have yet to fully understand. And according to a report by DLA Piper, Knowing your Tweet from your Trend,  I am not alone in these concerns.

Complex
Many column inches have been given over to employee content on social media, where the nature of some tweets and Facebook updates has resulted in disciplinary action and even dismissal. But what about the unchartered territory of the ownership of contacts and connections with whom employees are engaging? Whose are they exactly? Organisations are struggling to exercise control between an employee’s business and personal life on social media, where the  divide is often indistinct. This is particularly true on LinkedIn, which now has 130 million members globally.

Who owns your LinkedIn contacts?
The first chat last week was with an executive search associate who told me that his company was now using LinkedIn as a date base and had all but stopped using their own in-house applicant tracking  system. It was simply easier to keep up with changes in potential candidates movements on-line and saved a huge amount of time for all concerned, cutting data inputting costs totally he told me. Little warning bells jingled in my ears.  “What happens if the consultants leave?”  I asked. The response was that the  connections would be transferred to the practise partner. At that juncture, the little tinkles, became massive gongs, as the company had no contractual legal procedure in place to cover this.

Fast forward to the end  of the week. Simon was a Business Development Director with a Financial Services Consulting organisation. On Friday, he was called into his bosses office and although he was clearly aware that business was slowing down,  he was shocked to find that within  2 hours he had been “let go” and cut off from the company server. Amongst the mountain of paperwork he has been asked to sign,  is a clause asking for his LinkedIn password to transfer his connections to another sales person in the company.

Now Simon is a very strategic and creative networker. He invests a significant amount of time cultivating a meaningful network, both physically and virtually. He feels that his associates and superiors  never  committed to online networking. He maintains that his contacts have been developed over his entire career and have nothing to do with his employer. He is also well-connected personally via his family, high-profile school and university and is not about to hand those details over without a fight. The company differs and is arguing that many of his connections were cultivated as an integral part of his role with them, on their time and need to be returned. Both are seeking legal advice. How do we decide if a contact is a personal or a business one and what happens if those connections are inter-changeable?

Legal Action
According to The Telegraph, a British court has already ordered a recruitment consultant to hand over his LinkedIn contacts to his previous employer. In this particular case the consultant had started trading on his own account before then end of his contract, which muddies the water slightly. But if the data for all his connections is in the public domain – are they “his” in the first place?

Personal Profiles
LinkedIn profiles are indeed personal online resumés, reflecting individual achievements and success stories, rather than company branding messages. Some individuals are very savvy about the use of this platform and maximise the opportunities it offers both personally and professionally often times merging the two areas. Others are lethargic and disinterested, with incomplete profiles and minimal or no activity.

DLA Piper suggests that only 14% of employers have policies in place which regulate social media activity outside the workplace.  Failure to provide clarity on the ownership of connections will result in many unforseen ramifications. It will also cause confusion on the value of personal branding as a career management tool and  perhaps impact the energy individuals put into online networking.

So should employers be able to claim individual online contacts when an employee leaves? Would you take the time to build up your online connections and create these strategic alliances, if they become the “property” of your employer on departure?

For me, it’s no different than asking the employee of yester year to hand over his/her Rolodex or Filofax on departure. When a client interfacing employee resigns or is fired, there has always been a commercial risk of them taking their contacts with them. This is why many organisations have non competition clauses in their contracts.

Whether contacts are actual or online in my book, will not make any real difference.

Or will we see a return of the adage – ” Never mix business and pleasure” ?

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Criteria for a strategic network

It's not important what your strategy is -just that you have one

So what criteria do you use to create your network? Who is missing? Who do you need to add? What strategic alliances can you create?

Although not an open networker, I am a strategic one and I have over time become an advocate of the theory that there is strength in a weak network. I don’t  connect with just anyone and everyone, but I don’t mind if I don’t know the individual personally. That particular connection may not be directly helpful, but perhaps will be connected to someone who might be. Being pathologically curious I am always open to meeting new people.

Everyone will have different needs when creating a strong network. It will depend on age, level of experience and the type of professional activity you have and of course your personality and career goals. It’s not important what your strategy is – just that you have one and it works for you. And it should be effective and support your main goals, rather than a time consuming end itself. It’s not about building up numbers for their own sakes . So what do I look for when I try to extend my network whether on-line or IRL (In Real Life)?

  • Professional connections:  I try to link to people who are well-connected in my areas of special interest: executive search, coaching, career transition, and women’s issues in the workplace.  I aim for balance. For me this is very much related to the sharing of experiences and ideas and intellectual stimulation, as much as their influence .
  • Established and /or senior connections and allies: I look  to connect with some people who are deeply established in their field or holding senior positions in their organisations.  A quiet word from them in the appropriate ear can carry a lot of weight. If you are in any organisation, these are key contacts, especially if you are junior and they will act as a mentor or better still a sponsor and advocate for you.
  • Junior connections:  I love being connected to #GenY in particular. As we get older and more set in our ways we need the energy of this generation to keep us in touch. Even if you are entry-level, there will still be people behind you!
  • Peer connections : these are people doing what you do and can understand any major issues you might have. They might be good contacts to confide in, but be cautious also, you may end up competing against them for work, a contract or even a job.
  • Sector connections: I like and need to stay in touch with different sectors – specific industries and functions, coaching , sourcing, executive search and so on. This is about staying up to date
  • Geographic connections:    I work internationally, so I ask myself the question : have I got all the key contacts in specific locations that I could tap into if needed? Which area needs strengthening?
  • Connectors:  If needed, who will be my  go-to “connector”, the super networker, the person to whom I could pose the question” who do you know?”
  • Local connections:  contacts based in the places where I spend most time. There is no substitute for dealing with people face to face – especially if they are just down the road.
  • Specialists: unless we are all-singing and all-dancing, all of the time, we cannot do without the specialists whose passion and skill makes what they do invaluable. Whether this is the web designer, presentation expert, DIY fiends or even a walking restaurant directory.
  •  Information generators:  some people like to be totally up to the minute and they save us all a lot of time researching current events and developments.  Do you want to know something obscure? Then these are your go-to people.  We all need a few of those fabulous time- savers in our midst!
  • Devils advocates :   I’m very opinionated, so other great additions to my, or any network, (even if you are not) are the ones who will challenge the flaws in your argument! Definitely track down a few of those. It’s not good to surround yourself with clones of yourself.
  • Social connections: we all need to have fun and very often people we know socially have  the most surprising connections. Some are just plain likeable!

Who would you add? Let’s connect:

@DorothyDalton

Dorothy Dalton