Building Trust Through Networking
In my line of work, I meet a lot of people, whether I'm speaking at events, in companies or running and hosting my own networking meetings. I'm fascinated by the friction I see around corporate and business objectives and what it takes to achieve these lofty corporate goals. So, what do I mean by friction? Let me explain.
All companies are looking to decrease turnover, increase efficiency, improve on productivity, all with an end game of driving profitability. To achieve this, companies seek innovation. Money is invested into research and development projects. Speed is of the essence. Time is money. Yet, what it takes to accomplish these goals, is all predicated on relationships. To drive innovation in a company, companies need a collaborative environment.
To achieve effective collaboration, companies need a culture of psychological safety where it's ok to ask questions and challenge the status quo. To have psychological safety, teams need to have trust. For teams to build trust that is sustainable and far reaching, they need to work on self-development. The first person we all need to learn to trust is ourselves. Then we build on the self-development piece and build team trust. At the heart of all of this is networking. Why? Because networking is about building relationships one conversation at a time.
Building relationships is the key to unlocking innovation in companies. By focusing on the strength of these relationships, we build trust and therefore impact on profitability and other key performance indicators (KPIs). But here’s the conundrum. It takes time and meaningful effort, intention and attention to help people build their own self-awareness and to really build up team relations. But where is this time investment? I don't see it. People are too busy running from one call to another, one meeting to the next.
For companies to go big and bold about really setting time aside each week for people to get to know one another. A once-a-year team building event, while welcome, is not effective and simply not enough.
My vision is that all companies actively take relationship building as a serious key performance indicator. I'm just finishing off a book by Enda McNulty - Commit2Lead and I came across a new phrase which I love - KBIs or Key Behavioural Indicators.
What if leadership teams gave permission to their staff to spend time on getting to know one another? What would this do for the culture of the organisation? What if spending time with colleagues became a KBI?
Remote – Hybrid – Back to the Office Working
Many companies are in a state of transition and struggling with the question of remote or hybrid working as being the best solution or whether to have their teams back in the office. My own thoughts are that a hybrid model will work best.
My concern about people being brought back to the office is that there is no induction or training as to 'what next'. Getting people into an office together without supports and guidance won't pay dividends. It's like going to a networking event where the organiser has got a bunch of people in the room, set up a coffee station and thinks their job is done...it's not.
Because people don't know what to do next. Networking is a skill and unless you support and manage the connections in your team, the progress will be slow. If you would like to start a movement in your organisation, why not support your teams. Here are just some ideas:
- Organise walks and talks at lunchtime – these could be individual or in small groups.
- Support team members to organise 1-2-1s with each other every week. This could be done over lunch or coffee, in person or online (in person is always best).
- Organise quarterly team events to bring people together.
The point is, there needs to be a plan. There needs to be permission to build relationships. Networking helps us to learn to communicate, present, find our voice and channel our values. Networking helps us learn to listen and to help others. Networking is a power skill. It’s a skill to be learned like any other. Networking is a game changer. In short, networking makes the world a better place. The onus is on companies to create the right environment and culture to sustain growth, reduce staff turnover, increase morale, built trust and to develop an inclusive and dynamic culture.
Are you ready to help your business build trust through networking?
Jean Evans - NetworkMe