I am the Chief Examiner for the Agile Change Agent qualification, which teaches you practical techniques for scoping, planning and driving the implementation of change in your organisation. A core skill is the ability to persuade those impacted by change to participate and adopt new ways of working.
Persuasion is the result of the quality of our relationship with that person. Are we regarded as credible and trustworthy? Does the person impacted by the change want to follow our lead? This means developing great relationship building skills, and that starts with networking, often described as building connections with others.
Networking has become even more important over the last year as we rely on our relationships with others to be strong enough to overcome the disadvantages of not being able to meet face to face.
Networking needs investment
A few days into the first lock-down, I saw the impact of isolation from my network, as my diary emptied of events and meet-ups. I felt this was a big risk to feeling inspired, learning from others and just my emotional resilience.
As a result, I took a deliberate decision to address the threat by consciously developing my network, in an online world. My experience has been very positive, and although I have now been physically isolated from my global network for 15 months, I have maintained my presence, and I have enhanced and refreshed my network using these techniques:
Say yes to a broader range of work – this has brought me into contact with different people. I have volunteered for work that I don’t normally do, including for new clients, new ways of delivering and covering new subjects.
Each of these has given me the opportunity to get to know and get myself known by people I would not have met otherwise. We are sharing experiences which challenges my assumptions and builds my understanding of different perspectives on the world.
Actively seek out new networks. For example, finding LinkedIn groups, webinar sessions and online conferences and presentations. I have sought out events happening in different countries and different industries, as that has offered a new dimension.
These events are connected to my work, but perhaps are not as directly relevant as events I would have joined pre-Covid. I used to attend events face to face, which meant travelling, and staying out several evenings a week. I am using the extra time that I don’t commute to listen to new voices.
Learn new things
I have pushed myself to learn new things. I am a big supporter of developing skills and gaining qualifications. I want to avoid hypocrisy by taking courses and studying for certifications myself as well as encouraging others. Similarly to the events, I have studied subjects that are tangential to my world of transformational change, but not necessarily directly related.
Again, this has brought me into contact with lots of new people, and hearing their stories is fascinating and gives me new ideas to share with others.
All these networking techniques create a virtuous circle because I have new information, new sources, and new contacts to share with others. This makes others seek me out and want to connect with me, which also builds my network.