Networking changed my life -the IT kind of networking. Early in my career I determined that I had a knack for technology. I chose to specialize in Cisco networking because it was a fast-growing industry and I loved the complexity of the evolving technology. Certification was the ticket to a secure future and my career was off and running. As an introvert, the other type of networking, social networking, struck fear in my heart and mind, and was something that other people do.
Changing focus and becoming a PreSales leader presented a new challenge that required new skills. A healthy dose of social anxiety compounded by innate introversion was a significant challenge. Like other skills, I set small goals: walk into the room and greet three people and you can leave. As my career evolved, I realized that networking is an essential part of the leader’s role.
Perhaps you’re an introvert like me, or maybe you’ve lost practice during the pandemic. One thing that is truly important for your current role and future roles is social networking. How can you do this in a meaningful way that doesn’t require endless hours meeting hundreds of people online or in person?
The mere thought of building out your network may feel daunting, but there is strong hope for everyone, busy executives and introverts included.
Hope in Social Networking
I recently completed my Doctor of Business Administration studying the acceleration of trust between sellers and presales engineers. In that journey, I came across research on Social Network Theory, which describes the relationships between individuals and the strength of the ties that bond them.
Most social networks are made of similar people in similar situations. People begin to identify themselves as parts of the social network. Not all “ties” in the network are equal. People who communicate more frequently and have greater similarities have stronger ties. People in your social network who are more like acquaintances have weaker ties.
Dr. Mark Granovetter wrote an article on these ties called “The Strength of Weak Ties.” His premise was that the greatest diversity of information comes not from the many strong ties you have in your social network, but the real insights come from the weak ties, especially the weak ties of other strong ties in your social network. His theory has been validated many times over in recent years.
Personally, Dr. Granovetter’s work is inspiring to me. Introverts don’t need to build massive social networks. We need some strong ties both inside and outside our organizations to give us the diverse perspectives and access to unique knowledge that we may be lacking in our core group.
This is where the PreSales Leadership Collective can help you focus your networking activities. By putting time and effort into building a smaller network of strong ties, you can also reap the benefits of those weak ties if you make the time to attend events and bring in your own outside networks as well. And if you invest in that, the rewards will be significant across multiple domains.
You'll be able to bring outside information into your company, which will make you more valuable to them and make your position stronger. You'll be able to solve your own problems, you'll be able to get outside perspectives on challenges you face, and you'll build a personal network that allows you greater flexibility in your career. This investment in the PreSales Leadership Collective is about so much more than just a meeting
Expanding Knowledge in the PreSales Leadership Collective
In the PreSales Leadership Collective, we have regular executive roundtables where we talk about various topics related to PreSales leadership, enablement, and challenges in our field. Often one of the executive sponsors is a guest, and they speak about something that they've been working on - and I've received tremendous information from those folks.
One year, I shared some work I was doing in my organization with data to articulate the capabilities of the individuals on the team. It was a cautionary tale of the power of data, but also the potential downsides of using data without inspecting its potential biases.
The following year, an individual in the audience of my own presentation (a weak tie) presented a revolutionary way of using data, automation and metrics that truly challenged my own way of thinking. He took my presentation and built something 10x from what I had ever imagined.
That inspired me to try some significant new work in my own organization. This weak tie connection between us made both better leaders with better ideas to expand upon. The focused connection was well worth the time investment.
The interesting thing about the PreSales Leadership Collective events is that I have a small group of strong relationships in the PSLC. And when I meet with them, invariably someone else comes along and that someone else is the one that I learn an immense amount from. But I might not have met them or listened to them if it weren't for their connection to the people that I have trusted relationships with in the PSLC.
From a pure research perspective, the diversity of knowledge comes from the weak ties, not the strong ties. And that’s true in my experience as well. It sounds counterintuitive, but with the strong ties, like my immediate PSLC network, you already know each other well enough and you’re in the same field. You've had enough conversations on the same topics.
But if each one of them pulls in a third party - those weak ties - for an event or a chat, the richness of the information you receive just explodes.
The fee for the PreSales Leadership Collective is nominal. Getting three or four nuggets out of the conversations that we have in a few hours a year pays for itself because those nuggets can amplify across a very large organization.
It's about investing in a select group of people and PreSales Leadership Collective can help you figure out who those right people are. And then you can amplify their knowledge into your organization, into your position, and into your career.
To learn more about effectively expanding your PreSales network by leveraging the PreSales Collective, join the PreSales Leadership Collective today.