Business Communication Duplicate model

This article is to help those who are a bit more introverted to understand how easy it is to talk a little more and do a little networking. I know you don’t like to spend all your time at work chatting about celebrities or what’s happening in your personal lives. I’m not suggesting political scheming either. I’m suggesting a little good politics to build a network of supporters who will improve your ability to get things done.

What are we talking about?

People make progress in groups and our ability to work successfully depends on our ability to work in teams. To be able to get things done you’ll need to establish a strong network of supporters.

If you just stay at your desk most of the time and don’t reach out much to others, or of you do reach out but it’s always to complain, gossip or chat about your personal life, then you may have made a bunch of enemies or people who simply don’t like you much.

However if you have established your reputation and built a network of supporters, then you’ll find it much smoother to get things done as decisions get made, projects move forward and goals are met.

How will it improve your productivity?

Have you experienced days where every task you need to do involves asking for some information or asking someone to do something for you? For example lets say your day looks like this:

  1. Meeting with person X to gain background information on a project
  2. Asking person Y for signoff on a deliverable
  3. Presenting a deliverable to team Z for downstream work to commence

This could go one of two ways. Lets say you have not been building a network of supporters and instead you have made a few enemies and people don’t like you all that much.

  1. When you meet with person X they don’t know anything about the project and don’t tell you anything.
  2. Person Y re-schedules the meeting so you don’t even meet them at all.
  3. When you present to team Z, the team raise many picky little details that are not important to the purpose of the deliverable and the team don’t accept the quality of the deliverable and can’t start their downstream work. You just had an unproductive day and didn’t achieve any of your goals.

Now, if you have been building a strong network of supporters and have been building your reputation as a smart, consistent, hard working and helpful person, then your day might unfold like this.

  1. When you meet with person X they don’t know much about the project. However they give you three contacts who were involved in the project, they show you were the project artifacts and documentation is stored and they offer to introduce you to one of those contacts on the way back to their desk.
  2. You meet with person Y and they give you a conditional signoff of the deliverable.
  3. When you present to team Z, the team is very happy with the quality of the deliverable and although they see some parts where additional detail is required, they are happy to start the downstream work and work with you to complete the details later.

To top it all off, there is a new exciting project starting up to deliver a business change and you have been asked to manage it.

With your strong network of supporters you just had an extremely productive day!

How can you make it happen?

Don’t waste the organised drinks – Many workplaces organise drinks for various events including the farewell of a team member, a team building event or meeting up with a former team member. There is a temptation for many people who are a bit introverted to just throw these away and try to get more work done at their desk instead.

However a better approach is to treat these drinks as opportunities to develop your soft skills and build your network. You can order just one drink and have it slowly while talking to a few different people and then go home. You don’t need to stay till the end, just enough to talk to a few people, discover a few things you didn’t know about them and maybe something you can help them with back at work later.

I’m not suggesting going for drinks with your peers every week, or go with the intent to let off steam and complain or gossip. Rather go to the organised events where your managers or other stakeholders are attending and also the occasional outing with your peers, and treat them as opportunities to develop your soft skills.

Proactively approaching other teams when starting a new area of work – When starting a new area of work you’ll want to learn as much about that area as possible. In addition to reading existing documentation, find a few people who are working in a related area or project and set up short meetings with them. By introducing yourself to some people this way you are widening your network. The new people may introduce you to other people, pass on news that’s relevant to your project or be able to give you a lot of detail that has not been documented.

Be generous by giving more than you are asking for – When you’re in a meeting or asking someone for a favour, be on the lookout for how you can help them. If you can, then do it. This will build stronger relationships.

Engage people before you need them, look for ways you can help them – Don’t wait till you need something from someone before talking to them. If you introduce yourself to people before you need them, then when the time comes and you need to ask them for something the relationship is already there, making it much smoother to get things done.

Work based social media – Many organisations also have their own internal social media. You can build a presence here just as you might have on non-work related social media.

Further reading:

Great article on introductory coffee meetings
Political awareness as a practice lead

How have you built a strong network of supporters?

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