Last year, I wrote about how to network in the Salesforce ecosystem. I want to return to this topic as several experiences since then have reinforced how vital networking is.
But first, ask anyone who has attended any of my reporting training presentations over the years if they remembered one thing, and it would be that the most important question is “why?”. The same is true for networking, so it’s time to dig a little deeper. Understand the motivation and the rest will follow!
I’m going to explain how powerful networking is (with some examples of course) and give a few more tips on how to improve your technique. Putting time and effort into networking is even more important these days, due to the current challenges of physically meeting in person, as well as having many health benefits.
There’s also the benefit of perspective. Without talking to new people, from outside your circle, there’s no way to hear and understand other viewpoints, from people with different life experiences.
Case Study 1: The Direct Network
In October 2014 I walked into a room with 50+ other people. I didn’t know a soul. I start chatting to people. Most of it awkwardly because my “small talk” skills weren’t very developed back then.
Part A: I spoke to the person sitting in the row behind me and I’m still friends with them 6 years on. Great, but what’s the point here? From a small seed the following has grown:
- Shared experiences
- Supporting each other financially through Dreamforce (we shared a room)
- Any number of work-based challenges and career development opportunities discussed, analysed and improved; catastrophes avoided!
Part B: I didn’t talk to the organisers at that first meeting (that I recall). Well, perhaps I said “thank you” to them for organising the meetup but later, at future meetings, I definitely did. What happened with those people, as I invested, came back and developed those connections that I missed the first time around?
- Gained one to one free technical training
- Mentorship on how to be an inclusive leader and how to create the right environment
- Help with moving countries (introductions to the locals)
- Recommendations for speakers at the Amsterdam User Group
Did all these things happen overnight? Were all these things foreseeable? Absolutely not. Great things are possible, but they are more likely if you invest and stay the course.
Case study 2: The Indirect Network
A non-Salesforce friend, from Stories that Move (an online anti-discrimination teaching resource), asked me to share their request for assistance with my network. Easy – I shared the request on a local Salesforce Saturday WhatsApp group I’m a part of, as I knew that people interested in (Salesforce) marketing would see the request.
I got the an email from my friend just five days later saying: “Thank you so much for sharing my LinkedIn page with Shubhangani. We met today and she is going to be a great addition to our campaign team.”
I didn’t actually know Shubhangani. What’s happened? My wider network was activated. Not just my own network, but that of my friends’ too. Shubhangani was only able to see that WhatsApp message because we both participate in a local Salesforce Saturday network that our mutual friend Sergley Erlikh looks after.
Another example comes from my favourite social media platform, Twitter. Someone has a question, it gets retweeted and then a far greater network can see and respond, such as the current debate about when is the right time to use Flow.
This is interesting..
What say the experts?
— Justice P. Sikakane, Sr. (@JusticeSikakane) August 12, 2020
Sparks go flying!
It’s not just about asking questions and getting answers. It’s about sparking ideas off each other, through random conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise have. That’s why I reckon that networking is more important than ever. You need to find the space to have one-to-one conversations; webinars, where 1 person is talking and 25 people are listening, just won’t cut it in terms of making connections.
An example of this is Melissa Hill Dee’s Virtual Nonprofit Hour. Through virtual networking this has led to the creation of Nonprofit Dreamin’, scheduled for early 2021 where there will be a huge emphasis on creating meaningful connections (that’s to say: more networking!). Hurrah! Sign up now for more info!
For what it’s worth, I’ve taken to booking in time with some people in my network as I don’t bump into them in person at events any more – those hallways chats are just as important as the main event. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to find solutions in this virtual world.
Want some more tips? I attended a Witness Success’ session on networking recently. Rufus and Jenny Tripleet highlighted how diversity in your networking enables inspiration, and helps with perspective. Want to know more, such as what’s the perfect question to ask to a person you’re meeting for the first time, and what not to ask?(!) Check out their fantastic session here:
Networking is an investment. You won’t necessarily be able to anticipate how it’s going to pay off; but it helps build resiliency, expands your abilities, and increases capacity, meaning you can do more with less. Networking means that you don’t need to know everything, but you have access to skills and knowledge via your community. And have fun making friends en route.
This is me networking last year…
Yesterday was very inspiring day at @YeurDreamin ! I was really excited to meet all #Ohana family and find a lot of new amazing friends!
Hope one day I will bring such dreamin event to our region and will inspire our people as #YD19 inspired me! pic.twitter.com/ctpsl8dS57
— Oleh Mykytyn (@Oleh_Mykytyn) June 15, 2019
— Ch. Szandor Knapp (@ch_sz_knapp) August 16, 2019
So, want to start? Here’s a guide.