CIM Marketing Podcast - Episode 53: Make networking work for you
- 17 March 2022
Opening the door of opportunity
This podcast will:
- Explore why developing a network is crucial for a great career
- Reveal the great networking secrets of top marketing professionals
- Show how to turn contacts into contracts.
If you want to learn some more secrets to great networking, read Turn Contacts into Contracts (pg 60) in our January 2022 edition of Catalyst magazine, available to all CIM members.
Ally Cook 00:01
Welcome to the CIM Marketing Podcast, the contents and views expressed by individuals in the CIM Marketing podcast are not necessarily those of the companies for which they work. This series is currently being recorded via web conferencing. We apologise for any issues with the audio.
Ben Walker 00:18
Hello everybody and welcome CIM Marketing Podcast and today back with us is the great Morag Cuddeford-Jones, the editor of Catalyst magazine, she will be appearing more regularly now. So fond are you of her as a guest on this podcast, and with good reason, she's a great guest. And today we are going to be talking with her about something that is close to all of our hearts or rather should be, and that is networking. And Morag, have we lost the knack of networking? Have our brains suddenly regressed where we're no longer good at this stuff? You know, I was reading the other day in the newspaper about this concept of the pandemic brain and this isn't COVID brain as such, this is not a medical consequence of having COVI, that was something separate, confusingly, two separate pieces of research within a few days of each other. But this is for people who have gone through the pandemic and have suffered a pandemic brain not because of the virus, but because of the context, because of the environment, because of the consequences of the virus, being restricted from movement, not seeing our friends, losing our routines. So not going to the football every Tuesday night or not going to our choir practice every Thursday, or those sorts of routines that make up our lives. And of course, the obvious one, which is gaining a bit of social anxiety, because we're not used to it. Have we do you think lost a bit of a knack of how to network and talk to each other?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 01:49
I think you just mentioned it at the end there the whole social anxiety thing. I think the benefit of the pandemic is we've learned a bunch of new skills, I think, I think we found at the start of the pandemic, all this chatting away on Zoom, we found it excruciating, everyone would talk over each other, we wouldn't know how to do it, we learn to read different visual cues, you know, it's I think in a way you learn to really pay attention to people's faces. For a start, it's all you could see a lot of that gesticulations a lot of that body language was missing. So I think, I think in a way, we've learned a lot more from that. But I would totally agree the social anxiety, even just on a personal level, I mean, we've just started going back out to the pub, going out for coffee with people. I spend a lot of my life talking to people and I find it hard, I find it really hard to sit and join in a conversation and then I come home and go, did I talk too much? Did I not talk enough? Did I ask people about themselves enough? Because another thing on Zoom, it's it's quite a transactional conversation, you have a Zoom meeting, you're there to get stuff done. Networking is entirely different scenario, you're doing something else generally, while you're networking, and it's not transactional, at least when we might come to that it shouldn't be.
Ben Walker 03:05
Is networking a posh sort of business ease for socialising? Is that what it really is?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 03:11
So it's loaded socialising isn't it Ben? A lot of people we network with, let's be perfectly honest, a lot of people we network with, I wouldn't say we wouldn't choose to hang out with them, we just probably would never meet them in our social lives. And we share, unlike sort of the vast, diverse landscape of how we make up our social network. This is very, it's very restricted. Because we all have something very specific in common, whether it's the company we work with, the role we share, the job we want to, do the task we want to achieve. That's a lot more specific, I think, than what we would do in our normal sort of more free flowing social lives. So we've already got a big restriction there in action, it's going to dictate what we do and how we do it. I mean, you know, yourself I mean, I don't know if you've maybe had a very informal chat after a conference, you know, one of the lovely events after a conference where the beers and wines are flowing and it's, it's actually very convivial and very nice, and I don't know, if you found maybe just like me, because I'm an idiot, but I've come back home going oh maybe I shouldn't have over shared that - something that would have been completely normal to share in a pub scenario. You come back and go, I shouldn't really have been talking about that in a business one. But then why not we're humans?
Ben Walker 03:15
Why not indeed? I remember saying to a senior colleague of mine, I'm worried I over shared something, I didn't use that that phrase, but I said too much, gave too much away. And he said well, you have to share some things personal with business colleagues, otherwise the value of these discussions, the value of the bond is massively weakened if you're too guarded and what I've taken from it is that you worried a bit 'BP' before pandemic, worrying more about that stuff now you said you sort of spent a little bit of time when you went to this party or this business meeting you're talking about the other day, rather far too much time I would infer fretting about whether you spoke too much, too little, said too much about yourself or too little. Exactly but I think not everyone's going to suffer about that, and that's something very particular to me, as I said, quite, I quite like chatting away. And so I will chat and chat and chat and then go, oh, was I the only person talking? And invariably, right, then I wasn't, but because I'm also a raging narcissist, I think I was the only person talking. And therefore I think all that everyone is going to be thinking about is when I get home, and they're all going to be thinking wasn't Morag talking a lot? When, of course, all they're thinking about was oof that Martini was rather strong, and did Uber charge me too much? But actually, you might be wrong about that. They probably think, was I talking too much, talking a little. And actually, I don't think it is unique to you. I think it's something if we're social beings, we want to - we want to be welcomed and appreciated by other people, and we don't want to impose upon them. But we might be fretting a little bit more, I think, as a populace, as marketers, as an industry than we would have done before, simply because we're a little bit out of practice. That's my guess. That's my guess. And the research seems to back it up.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 06:15
I think I would, I would agree with you, Ben. And it is the sort of thing that I've been thinking about and thinking about, I'm about to go back into a bunch of different events where I will need to network. And it's something I mean, I've I've commissioned various people to write about this in Catalyst, various experts. Because while I want to hear about everything in Catalyst, I really, really want them to know this is this is a great way of me getting some free counselling and some free consultation, thank you very much, is to find out what the experts know about networking, and why we should get over some of our anxieties about it, and how we should learn to do it better because I think our anxieties are obviously tied up in the fact that we aren't sure about how we're doing it. And when we go back post pandemic, yes, we've, we've forgotten the things but that that muscle hasn't been exercised that the conversation over the danishes and the coffee urns that we just got so used to having, you know, there's, there's almost a script to it, it's an accepted social ease. It's like bumping into people in the streets, you're out on a dog walk, you bump into someone in the street. Hi there, how are you? How's it going? How are the kids? I'm fine. Thanks very much. It's the same thing. We say the same thing to everyone, it's a social lubricant. And the same thing happens in networking and if we haven't done that for two years plus, and we're also overthinking it, a lot of that natural ease, goes away and is replaced by as I just said, overthinking and anxiety. And of course, when are we most likely to come over awkward and unapproachable and get things wrong? It's when we're overthinking.
Ben Walker 07:54
Well, indeed, and we'll re-learn it by doing it, because then what will ease that will make us more comfortable with it and then we won't think about it as much. I just want to pick up something you said earlier, which I thought was quite interesting. You said, we've talked about a lot about as losing a bit of skills, or at least losing a little bit of practice, and therefore overthinking it and causing ourselves problems. Well, we've actually acquired some skills as well. I mean, your point about Zooms was really interesting. You know, I remember at the start of, you know, the pandemic, there was a, there was a, there was a sort of craze for Zoom parties, which people suddenly realised a few weeks later, didn't really work having 15 people on a zoom call, it meant that you could get attention or give attention to none of them. And actually, it was impossible for the human brain to track A. the conversation or B. read the room when you've got so many people, that software simply didn't couldn't cope with it, and neither could the people on the software. But we've learned, now we've got our meetings down to a manageable number of people, to look for visual cues and not treating it like a phone call with pictures, to actually look for those visual cues of when people want to interrupt or they want to speak, when you think they may have something to contribute. Or maybe they're just not happy with the way something's gone or something that's being proposed. And my question is, will we be able to draw on that and actually translate some of those new skills that we've on boarded into real life conversation? We will become, after we get back used to it after we do the practice thing and the getting used to it again, is there a chance we'll actually become better communicators? Better networkers because of what we've learned over the last two years?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 09:32
I wonder if it's going to make us all more active listeners, because... I mentioned earlier that this is that Zooms are a transactional environment almost now that I'm not necessarily saying that you want something, I want something, let's get this done, although there is an element of that. But it's much more there's much less being talked over. Zoom simply doesn't work when a bunch of people talk over each other, as you've obviously pointed out with the parties, a party would normally be a hubbub, there'd be a hubbub of noise, you'd pick out something interesting and your head would swivel. And you a lot of the time, you would just mentally ditch the person in front of you. And this is one of the worst things about in person networking is that chatting to someone, you're picking, picking a victim, or target, or a nice person to talk to. And you start talking to them, you don't necessarily know if they're going to be, you know, in this terrible term a valuable contact, maybe they turn out to be a nice conversation, but they're not, you're not really getting anywhere with them. And suddenly someone that you've seen on the agenda of the event homes into view. And the worst thing, which I'm sure everyone we have all been guilty of it, is your eyeline just vanishes over the shoulder. And that person knows that they've been gazumped by someone more interesting behind them.
Now, I wonder if online, because we have to manage that grid of people, and we have pay attention. I find it very interesting when I've run things like roundtables and mini conferences and you're right, you know, having more than about nine people is a nightmare so I just don't do it. There are various functions, technological functions, there's a chat window, there's the raise your hand, and I have almost never used those, and the people I've been talking with have almost never used them. We've always relied on a raised eyebrow, a ferociously nodding head in agreement. And you have to sit and pay attention. And you have to read the Zoom room, who's nodding? Who's really engaged? Who's not engaged? Who's sitting there surreptitiously checking their WhatsApp while you're talking because you're boring them to death? So I think it's maybe made us pay a little bit more attention to what we have to bring to that room, or in our platform time.
Ben Walker 11:51
In our platform time and yes, you apply, apply some of the principles we've had to learn in the digital space in the real world environment, because some of those principles are very useful and have high value which is active listening, as you say, giving people attention, politeness, and understanding where and how to move the conversation on or to introduce a new a new person into it. It does rather speak to the idea that this isn't easy, that networking isn't an easy skill. You know, none of this stuff, being a social animal, is a particularly easy skill. And therefore it is skills that are hard to find, resources that are scarce attract a high value, has the value of networking gone up over the last two years as it's been harder to do, and we've lost a bit of practice of it. Do you think it is now at a premium?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 12:46
I think the ability to be a good networker certainly sets you apart. And I think the view of what a networker is, needs to be challenged because I think a lot of people still have the wrong idea what it means to network and what it means to be a good networker. A good networker is not the person in the flashy suit, who seems to know everyone, works the room, comes in gladhands everyone as they go past, seems to know everybody and flances off again and you look at them come in. It reminds me of Carly Simon's song You're so Vain: 'You walked into a party like you were walking onto a yacht.' You think that's the archetypal networker, but it's not. The network and I think an arch networker - active listening is one thing - but they're the one on one person. And there were there's been a couple of articles recently where the writers have picked out some very important learnings about what great networking is and does. And I've always been challenged with this idea because I've found that networking, the people who most fervently network, often are the ones who need something most immediately.
Networking is about need, but it's not networking out of need. And sometimes you might work out of necessity you know, it's I'm a journalist, I need to get contacts to write an article, I need to phone someone up and say: Hi, can I become your instant friend because I want to interview you for this piece. Now that's a that's a quid pro quo there's there's there's a two way thing there, someone gets coverage and I get an article that's great. But networking about need, it's the people who are arch networkers don't go in for a start with their own need front of mind, they're going to identify somebody else's need. And you know, you're not approaching them at the Danish table and saying, you know, you desperately need the services I'm offering, or you look in desperate need of help in this area. Their need at that particular moment could be someone to chat to or tell them where loos and the cloakroom are and things like that. So it's about establishing a connection based on that need, and then finding what other needs, what you can help with.
Ben Walker 15:12
It's a brilliant, it's a brilliant, brilliant way of posing It isn't it, it's a brilliant lesson to learn. But networking, your networking, should be based on their need, not your need.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 15:24
Ben Walker 15:25
We'll come back to how that might pay off for you over time, shortly. But that's just it's worth just repeating and reiterating that your networking should be based on their need, even if it is just telling them where the ladies are, or even where to get a cup of coffee in the first instance, it should be based on their need. And then you're saying once you found, you've told them where the ladies are, or where the coffee bar is, you can then find out what else they might need.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 15:51
Yeah, you've made that connection and it's the awkward thing, isn't it? Where you're wondering, you know, I've been sent to a conference to network, how do I even find some reason to speak to someone, let alone network? Well, you can do your research and figure out who's there, read the name badges, I mean, we are all going there for a reason. It's okay to read the name badges and have someone that you want to go and talk to, but have someone to talk to you don't want to go and sell them your piece of software or your consultancy or your idea. But I think it's very much finding that personal connection and when you go to network, we go to conferences for all sorts of different reasons, but when you go specifically to network, it's about need. I understand that there are people who need to network because they need to achieve a certain aim, but it's a longer game. So if you are seeking out contacts, because you have a specific short term goal, I would suggest don't kid yourself that's networking, I would suggest that's a transaction. Something they want as a result of that, fine but that's that's a sales pitch and a transaction it's not networking. Networking, is very much in my mind a much longer term, build - it's called a network - it's building a broader, enmeshed group of people. And I think, adding-following on from that thought, the whole point of networking isn't just - it starts off with a one to one conversation - but it isn't to establish a one-to-one relationship. It's so that you can say okay, now I've met up with person X, person X you'd be great to talk to person Y actually, I think they'd really help you with something, and person B is so intelligent in this field, and I think the whole pay it forward and bring other people together. That's what brings your network together.
Ben Walker 17:47
It's not a series of bilateral relationships, it is a multi-multilateral exercise, and you've got to keep that in mind that you're by by connecting to one node, you're opening up other nodes and that's how networks become big. That's what networks are, that is the very definition of a network, which rather speaks to my next question, which is that we shouldn't then aim our networking at a certain seniority or at a certain target group presumably, we should try to drive our networking, try to make it as universal as possible because we're building a network for the future. Right.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 18:21
Absolutely. You're absolutely correct, and, you know, when we're aiming at seniority, it implies that everyone else is juniorority- is that even word? junior. So - and that then that then implies that they are of less worth well, that's absolute nonsense. I mean, we, if you think about what people in different layers of of your business can contribute to you, we have a roundtable coming up in the subsequent issue to the one that's out just now. And Katherine Jacob, OBE from Pearl and Dean mentioned that they'd been doing a campaign with Marks and Spencer and they had all the senior people on board and everyone was chatting and they were all you know, had great ideas. And they were about to do something involving the Real Marigold Hotel Great film name, I can't quite remember but it had Maggie Smith, the venerable Maggie Smith, and it was based in India. And they were going to show Maggie Smith eating many of Marks and Spencer's finest delicacies, being her finest British expat self. Until someone from the food department not clearly on the C suite, or the board of the ad department or the creative director, but someone from the food department went, they'd all melt, they'd go off in transit, and by the way, we don't export to India anyway. So you know, you're where are you going to get your insights from if you're looking at the top of the table all the time?
Ben Walker 18:44
You're going to miss more than you will gain?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 19:01
You're going to miss more than you'll gain. Now that's that's just that's an amusing anecdote, and it's one really very worthwhile holding on to when you're looking for some consensus about something you want to do, but let's talk about it from a networking perspective for a second. The people in my network that I see all the time on Twitter or in LinkedIn, the thing they are doing most of the time, and these are the a lot of them are quite senior, is they are bigging up more junior people. They're going does anyone have a mentoring space for someone who's great at this? Does anyone want to have - you know, they're asking flat out, they're asking their network for what may seem like a favour, but it's not really a favour. What they're asking is: Do you need some fresh blood in your organisation? Do you need someone for you to hone your mentoring skills on? Do you need to grow the next generation of XYZ talent which will grow your network, which will grow your business, which will grow your success? And I think that's one of the characteristics of brilliant networkers and great people overall, is that they've got somewhere through being helped through building a network. And they know the only way to maintain that network and maintain that success is to bring others along with them.
Ben Walker 21:13
Bring others along with them, and it is important, particularly given the difficulties, perhaps the younger generation, the more recent entries into the industry have had over the last two years for the reasons we don't probably don't need repeating again, is that they've not been able to meet people in person, many of them, as we've said, a few times on this podcast, have actually started jobs, and continue jobs without actually meeting the people who hired them. And they've had been naturally disadvantaged in the world of networking, which is, you know, so important, so important throughout your career, as we often say and we're saying today, but particularly important early on your career, because you're you're doing that building, you're doing that multilateral development for the future in your own organisation, but also in other organisations, which may hire you in future jobs. And given that, if you're looking at it from the other way, from those young people, what should they be doing now, the environment's shifted a bit, perhaps it's become a little bit more benign, to make sure that they are developing those opportunities now more opportunities are available to them?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 22:19
Get out there for a start. When you feel it's safe to do so, of course. But yes, events are kicking off all over the place so if there's a relevant event to you, if there's someone you want to go and see, someone you want to speak to, go to them. And it can be daunting, if you are young, I am not young, and I am still daunted. But get rid of the imposter syndrome, okay, you may be young, you may be less experienced, in fact, you may be old and less experienced I can't remember the chaps name but there's I think a 62-year-old agency director has just joined another agency as an intern to start learning an entirely different part of marketing and advertising from the ground up. So you can be old and and inexperienced as well. But getting rid of the imposter syndrome, which is you may be young, but you have skills, you have ideas, you have something to contribute. So when you go to those conferences, just like anyone senior who seems to be networking the room with aplomb, you have something to offer. So there is a need there that you can answer, I remember I mentioned mentoring, loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of senior executives, judging by my LinkedIn, Twitter feeds, etc. are super keen to find people to mentor. Now they don't just sort of wander into a room and pluck a mentee like the the milk ground at university used to be, they're wanting people to come to them going, I want some mentoring, I want to I want to speak to you, I want to learn more. So what you have, don't think as a younger person, you don't have anything to offer. You have your fresh vision, you have your fresh ideas, you have your energy, all those cliches you have also got learning experience and different perspectives. But you have what other people want, and don't ever think that you don't. So when you say you know, I'm young, I'm the one with the need and other people don't have a need, they do, It's just you have to look at it from their perspective. What's what is the same for all of us, from their perspective, what is their need, and what can you do to answer it?
Ben Walker 24:24
That's interesting, isn't it? They still have a need, yes It's not just you that has a need. So again, the same principle applies, start your networking by thinking of what is their need? Well, actually, they need mentees, they need mentees there's reverse mentoring we've spoken about on this podcast, not you and I but someone else on the podcast, reverse monitoring which is they're gaining from getting the perspectives of younger people with different ideas and a different background and a different worldview and a different lived experience. So there is a need there as well. So again, recognise it from their need and think of their need it's the same principle. Well, the same same principle. Now, you've been talking a lot in the magazine, about networking you've been talking about on one of those famous roundtables of yours when you get the great and the good to come and talk about things. And you've got one coming up on internal networking and stakeholder management, which is a little bit of a sort of twist on the networking thing. And what was the main finding from that discussion?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 25:22
The reason we were we were wanting to talk about this, is as a journalist, I'm forever, I forever felt that I was writing articles going, this is a great idea but - we've got to get buy in. We've got to get leadership buy in, what does leadership buy in even mean? And it means getting people on board with your thoughts, and that means networking inside, it means getting everyone together and behind the same idea. Nina Jasinski, who's Ogilvy's chief marketing officer, had a great metaphor, simile, oh, I don't know what it is a baton anyway, what she had was a baton. And she said that great ideas are, are a baton and they've got to be passed from one person to the other. And to do that, you have to understand and be able to communicate what that baton means to the person you're giving it to. If you're going to be able to do that, you have to understand we're all going back to perspective again, but what is their perspective? What do they need? So internal networking, is getting back to the basics of great networking isn't it it's getting to know you, getting to know what your needs are, how you act. We had Johnny Coombe at the roundtable, who is the CEO of Pay By Phone, those little pay kiosks at car parks, and it's, it's worldwide. And he says, you know, I know what I'm like as a CEO, I need people to bring an idea to me, it has to be quick, it has to they have to have done their due diligence, because he says, you know, he can be carried along on an idea but if it's not the right idea, he'll set all sorts of people off in the wrong direction. And he also he doesn't have time, for long, convoluted explanations, you come to him with a long, convoluted, unformed explanation he's like I don't know what to do with this. So he says his his teams have learned by interacting, by asking, by networking with him what it is he needs.
So this internal networking, I think is critical. It's understanding people's needs, understanding their motivations, getting to know who they are. So Pete Markey said this brilliant thing that, you know, when we asked for leadership buy in, and everyone thinks it's going straight to the CEOs door, no there was there was a consensus that it's not just about the CEO, you need the money, you need to speak to the finance officer. And he said this brilliant thing he said don't treat the finance director's office like a door you swing through when you need money. And that's an allegory for all our relationships. Don't just barge through that door when you need something. So you have to bring everyone along on the journey, the finance officer knows you want money for the project, they know that you you need to have finance for your marketing strategies. But they also to sort of short circuit some of the to and fro and the convincing, they need to know where you are taking the company and why this is a great investment and they're not going to know that if you just keep demanding it at the end of every process.
So networking internally is keeping everyone up to date, whether they actually need to perform an action, or not, just keeping them involved in the process. Now, obviously, this doesn't mean sending them 8000 memos a day and clogging up their email box, but it just means keep everyone abreast of what you're doing, ask their opinion, the finance officer may well come back and say well, you know, you're asking for 3.5 million for this ad campaign, when I can tell you a couple of years ago, we did something very similar but we use a slightly different channel. Now I'm no marketing expert, but we did that for one and a half million. What do you think about that? It's the Marks and Spencers food example, don't think you're not going to get a perspective from someone who isn't directly in your tight little area of expertise.
Ben Walker 29:17
First of all, there's a there's a lesson there is don't just see networking as a as an external exercise. It can and should also be an internal exercise. The probably the tools that you use are all the similar you know, make sure that you're speaking to the person you're networking with needs and bring as many people in as you can to make it multilateral so you can get ideas from them. But also when you are actually trying to convert that into hard cash or an approval, or something that can take the project forward. Make sure that that's not the only time you're making those interventions, make that relationship something that you carry on whether or not you've got an ask whether or not you've got a demand and then you're more likely to get those demands approved when you do come to ask, which probably leads me into this great article I read in Catalyst in the new year, which is this one, possibly a candidate for the best headline of the year, which is Turn Contacts into Contracts. And that is saying, okay, yes, networks, fantastic, but there sometimes is a transaction somewhere, that actually, as a result of these networks, you can achieve a positive transaction. And there's nothing wrong with transactions per se, but there should be an outcome of networks rather than rather than input. And you know, that to me, when you when you put that feature together, which I think is worth having a little bit of a chat about, even though we mentioned it, last time we spoke is that, you know, what was at the heart of that is when did these networks cease to become sort of passive nice to have that have in the background and stop delivering? Not just contact but contracts?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 31:05
Well, first, I'd like to say that it was It wasn't me putting together the article, it was two fabulous people, Louise Clark and David Keene, who brought that forward for us and shared their considerable expertise. But that it is, it is interesting. So you kind of feel a bit cynical, don't you, I'm starting this whole relationship and the ultimate aim is one of you is going to pay me some money at some point. And we've got to get over this cynicism, because I don't resent paying money for a bar or Galaxy chocolate, it is very much satisfying my need. So we've got to stop thinking that a monetary transaction is in some way, one way. So let's go back to thinking about the needs. But there's a really wonderful phrase that sort of brings business development, which sounds hardnosed, and networking, which sounds interesting, challenging, but a little directionless, and bringing them together. And and this is what they write: Business development is really just about staying in touch with people and being helpful in a conscious, methodical way. And networking is the way to find those people in the first place. And it's conscious and methodical. So, you know, on occasion, you'll just be having conversations, on occasion, your relationship, let's admit it has been initiated, on the basis that one of you has something the other may well need. And just because they need it, and you're selling it, you're in a position of of equal power, really, you know, and I think it's this whole sense that we've got this power tussle wrong.
So when we're building them, and moving those contacts into contracts, it's the recognition that we are not plunging in with a sales pitch, having first met this person 30 seconds ago, we are going to spend a considerable amount of time and effort getting to know them. And again, not just to sell them something, but to find out, here's those words, again, what they need, how can I help? If I can't help you? Well, I may not be able to help you right now. It's great to know you, maybe my friends can help you, maybe you can help one of my friends. It's always great. It's very rare that there is an absolutely duff contact somewhere, you know, if there is you have gone to the wrong conference.
So you know, this is why it shouldn't be an urgent thing either takes time. And so the conscious, methodical way is checking in with those people is, you know, you see an article, you see a LinkedIn post, you see someone else's brought out a product, you've brought out a product. You say I remember you talking about this, does this help you any further down the road on your journey to X. And one of the interesting, well it's not one of the interesting things it's three points that they came up with. They said what do people who help look like? So we've translated people who network into people who help. And I think it's a very useful way of thinking about it. People who help what they look like there are three points they said: They help their contact identify their real needs. So that's not a hard sales pitch. At point one, you may well find that you personally can't help them, you may have just triaged them to go in the opposite direction. But they will always remember that you did that and might point you in someone else's direction it's never a dud end. Then they expand their contacts' real needs. Now, again, that's not selling you stuff you don't need, but that's going if you're going to go down this strategy, or take this tactic, do you know that in a couple of months time you might cause X to happen, or you might see X,Y, Zed opportunity. Did you know that this can help you with X,Y, Zed opportunity? You don't need it now, you don't need to have it now but, at that time, you might want to explore that that's going to help you identify that, again, you're being helpful. You're not shovelling something down their throat. And people who help create new needs. Now that sounds again, am I selling you stuff? Am I selling you snake oil, stuff you don't need? No, you're not, business is all about opportunity and by creating those needs, what you're doing is creating new avenues for that person to pursue. So I think all of this conversation has all been really around one word and it hasn't been about networking, it's been about perspective.
Ben Walker 35:43
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 35:43
Shifting the perspective of what networking means. It means seeing things from someone else's perspective, helping them see new perspectives, adjusting your perspective. And I think that- I found that when I was reading these, because networking is something that scares me at my grand old age, I still walk into that conference room and see those Danish pastries - by which I'm clearly very obsessed - and go: Who do I speak to? What do I say? What's my opening gambit? And why do I make- how do I make them think I'm not a complete crackpot? And it still takes practice, and it's going to take even more practice than it did before because I haven't done it for two years.
Ben Walker 36:24
Well, how did you do it? I mean, you're a freelancer, you're a successful freelancer, a very successful journalist who works for herself. You at some stage, or as an ongoing basis must have turned contacts into contracts. How did you do it and lets lets lets be negative here, what were the real hurdles that you faced? The challenges you faced doing it?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 36:46
The challenges were me. I literally have to get out of the way of myself, and have a good word with myself. We're terribly British about this, aren't we? We don't we don't like asking for stuff, and again, I always thought I was- in the early stages - I thought I was asking for things. You know, I was literally I was that bar of Galaxy chocolate wandering up to a very hungry person and going, you sure you want me? Really? You wouldn't you wouldn't rather have some broccoli? So I think a lot of it was reframing what I did, and going well, for a start, if they don't use me, they'll need somebody else, and I'm probably as good as anyone else at doing this so I may as I may as well ask. And I think it was just getting over the fact that what I was framing as ask, they were framing as either provide or we need. And it took a lot of that. And then it was simply a question of I've been very, very, very helped in my career, and I think this is something that people who network should also do is I've been referred hither and yon by loads of people, which is wonderful and lovely. I often sit there going, in a very positive way, well what did I do to deserve that? You know, I'm sitting there going, that was very kind of them, why would they do that? And I think pay it forward. In successful networking, remember, I talked about the mentors, and people looking for mentors, you know, by by suggesting someone to someone else, you're like you are doing the favour for the service provider, but you're also doing that someone else a favour, they need someone who is trusted to do a job for them. And there is nothing better than personal recommendation. So while that's not a direct networking thing I don't think, I would still urge everyone to do it. If you work with anyone who is good, competent, that you trust, that you'd recommend, please do recommend them. It's not that everyone needs help, but that a personal recommendation helps everybody. So there was there was a lot of that. But it was to a greater extent, just literally knowing that when I'm asking if people want my services, then I'm not trying necessarily to help myself, clearly I am helping myself, but I'm helping them too.
Ben Walker 39:14
So understand it's a two way thing, look for that needs, understand it's a two way thing, you're not you're not asking for favours, you're you're trying to match their need with your services, which is a win win for both people. And you're a marketing journalist, marketing editor, you're also a marketing consultant and a brand consultant, so you know the industry, you know the marketing industry exceptionally well. Do you think this is a specifically important skill to develop in this sector? Is there something about marketing that makes being able to network particularly important?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 39:47
No. I think it is particularly important to be able to network wherever you are. In marketing, what I would say is that marketing as an industry is massively diverse, in terms of the interlinked functions, whether you're talking about advertising, or digital, or direct mail, or companies, or service providers, you could go on, there are so many different people that aren't based in a single company. You know, no company is an island in marketing, everything is based off a network somehow. So in that respect, marketing, yes, is hugely dependent on networking, is networking, the sole preserve of marketing? Gosh no. Everyone needs to network, whatever they do, whether they're a sole trader, or part of a massive company. My husband's just got back from a conference in Cambridge, where he adds a network around and, and he's a scientist.
Ben Walker 40:46
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 40:46
So you know, networking is very important wherever you are. And I would suggest, it's, it's a great life skill. Because that anxiety that I was talking about, it does help you get over it. Whether it's something entirely in your personal life, or whether it's professional, wherever it is, understanding how people want to interact with you, that's the essence of networking, isn't it? And understanding things from their perspective can be a great way of reducing anxiety about all sorts of things because once you understand what they need, your needs stop being quite so acute and stop being quite so difficult to deal with.
Ben Walker 41:26
You stop fretting about them, because you're putting your focus on on the other person, which is the heart and soul of this conversation and the advice we've heard today. In terms of what the tools we use, while we remember that, I'd agree that you know, it's about need, it's about the other person's need and if you start from that position and perspective, you will succee. It does strike me that the actual tools, the mechanics, of what we can use to network have increased over over the years. And particularly, we've learned to use digital means in the last two years, much more than we had, people perhaps using social media more often than they would have done before the pandemic hit, out of necessity in the first instance. But I just wonder as we look to the future, whether you think they'll cool off a bit, or whether we will actually continue to use those tools that we've learned over the last two years or so?
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 42:18
Well absolutely, everything's horses for courses, and it's the same thing with we all had to go to ecommerce out of absolute necessity because we couldn't leave our front doors for our shopping. Does that mean that we're never going to buy online again, or never set foot in a grocery store? Of course not. We're going to do both. I think it's been a sharp learning curve, how we use particularly business networking, I'm pretty sure everyone has a horror story of people who've stalked, spammed or generally annoyed them on LinkedIn, or vice versa, where you think you've sent something perfectly reasonable, and someone's completely ghosted you. We all have those stories, I think, learning to understand the subtleties of how those platforms physical and social interact. And it's not universal, some people quite like all their cold calling as it were, to be done via LinkedIn where they can pick and choose other people have an absolute blanket ban on just don't message me, don't connect with me just understand who I am via LinkedIn and, and find me via my PA, that goes back to the internal kind of like the internal network again, and understanding people's motivations. But just understanding how to be a good and useful person and what these tools can therefore do to help you do that so, if you're nervous about going to a conference, you wonder: Well, I don't know what my opening gambit is, I don't know how to speak to this person. I think, in this day and age, we all assume that if our name turns up on an agenda, or an attendee list, others look at it, someone's going to have a quick look at LinkedIn, find out what we do, and I don't think anyone's particularly perturbed if someone goes so I see, you used to work at Virgin Atlantic, and I've got a funny story about that. I don't think anyone is at all bothered by that sort of thing.
So I think those tools are very, very useful, giving us a little background, you know, beforehand, I don't know how the old boys or old girls network used to work but I'm sure somebody used to phone up someone's PA and go: Isn't so and so a member of such and such a golf club? Maybe I'll talk to them. I'm sure people did their due diligence on people before they knew they were gonna go meet them. It's not stalking or not if you don't do it too much. So yes, it was absolutely right what you said, there are tools and Zoom is great for, for some functional stuff. For let's get a conversation done quickly where we are so we don't have to travel, we can record it if we need some to go back to it, we can get lots of people together from different geographies very quickly and get a decision on something. If we want to spend some time getting to know people, find that there's serendipitous moments, which are much - I would infer - are much easier in person, you know: Oh, you did go there on holiday? You're kidding, so did we! That sort of thing. And it sounds terribly cliched, but you know what I mean?
Ben Walker 45:14
It's, it's a cliche that happens, you know, that's a- common experiences, common travel experiences, people like talking about them.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 45:24
So long story short is yes, they'll be fine.
Ben Walker 45:28
So focus on their needs, going with that perspective. Remember that building a network is a multilateral experience, so when you're meeting somebody, you're opening doors to 5, 10, 15, 20 other people, it's it should be a multilateral exercise, and don't see it as something for instant gratification or instant financial or career success. But something that you build for the future that you can then draw upon as a resource. Your people in your network can draw on you as a resource as you go through your career. I mean, the most important lesson perhaps is that realise the value of it, it is absolutely incredibly valuable to build and maintain a network and to work out how that network works, and if you can remember that and go out with these lessons and use these tools that are available to us, you're going to have a much higher chance of success than most people who don't.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 46:23
Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's a it's a shortcut to everything. So it's a shortcut for you, it's a shortcut for them, and as you said, it's a shortcut for the 20 other people that have been sucked into the vortex, the vortex of success. That's the next cover story in Catalyst. I'm not sure what it's about, but I like the title.
Ben Walker 46:40
'The vortex of success', what a great way to finish. Morag Cuddeford-Jones, editor of Catalyst, Thank you very much. We'll see you on the podcast again very soon indeed.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones 46:49
Fantastic Ben thank you so much.
Ally Cook 46:51
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