In the last few months I have been somewhat surprised by the number of people I’ve come across who have no concept of the value and depth of their network. Put simply, they don't know who they know.
They also don't realise the value of their corporate pedigree. But that's a story for another time.
These are senior executives, experts in their fields and well regarded in Australia and around the world, who don’t realise their value and potential influence in the market. And while it continues to surprise me, I take some comfort from their humility.
A little humility can go a long way, but not when it keeps people behind their desks.
Despite the fact that I am a communications adviser, our conversations often start with us talking about what they want to do next, what they are doing now, how they are going with getting there and when.
This is because usually these people are in very senior roles and they are thinking what next or what else? Plenty are thinking about board careers.
They’ve been running hard for the last few years in a really challenging business environment and are ready to turn their hand at something else.
The problem is they are often relatively unknown in the broader market. They may “know” a lot of people, but they haven’t spent any time connecting with them or, they have worked for one company for many years and are generally unknown beyond their inner circle. Not a very handy position if you want to be on the board radar.
My first question is to ask them if they’ve Googled themselves recently, which is frequently met with a look of horror - there's the humility again. But the crux of the question is this: if Google is the primary source of information when someone is researching or looking for you, if you are not there, how can anyone find you?
Sadly, you are who Google says you are, at least initially.
Don’t get caught up in being worried about vanity, be realistic. If you are invisible to the outside world, have not been present in your market or have not maintained your contacts, there’s never been a better time to stand out.
Googling yourself will give you an idea of where you stand and what others will see when they look for you. It’s certainly the first thing any prospective client, employer or key contact will do when preparing to meet with you, especially if they don’t have a lot of time.
While you’re at it, ask yourself how well known you are for what you do beyond your current company.
If you’ve been head down and off the radar for a while Google can also tell you this.
Some other questions I ask people are:
- Who do you know?
- Do you know who you know? Who is in your contact book - smart phone, old phone, Outlook list, old Rolodex? Where are they now, who have you forgotten? Why?
- Is it worth reaching out and connecting over a coffee or even just over the phone?
- When was the last time you had coffee with an external contact, who was not a friend? I am talking about a commercial conversation aimed at learning from each other, sharing ideas or views about the market, helping each other out.
- What did you find when you last Googled yourself? Does it need to change?
- Do you know what to do to make this happen?
If you need help, call me. That’s why we offer free 30 minute strategy meetings.
Principal, Anderson Advisory
t: +61 400 033 937