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SHOP TALK - on 16 February 2016....

A session on Networking within transformational change projects in large organisations; Networking Etiquette : 2 is company, read the signals, excuse me please; the importance of having a position statement - for 30 second lift or full tender presentations....

I try to walk 10,000 steps a day and run up deep tube-line escalators to keep fit but my legs ached, my chest was tight and I was out of breath as I reached the venue for Shop Talk: I was late getting out of a customer meeting in Reading.  I entered the upstairs room in The Hand and Shears, just across from Smithfield Market.  I had made it with less than a minute to spare and David Peregrine-Jones, our Master, had held the fort and was ready to chair the event.  He introduced the topic – Networking: What do you do? – while I checked numbers and collected dues.

I rushed to the front and started my presentation.  Deliberately conversational and without slides, I focussed on networking within transformational change projects in large organisations.  I identified three areas that have been instrumental in my successful delivery of programmes of change over the last 25 years. 

First, I talked about the importance of having a networking strategy: understanding people is key to success - and those that can derail progress. 

Second, I recommended a targeted approach and try to understand individuals and groups targeted: senior directors will need a different approach to front line workers. 

Finally, don’t underestimate the impact of serendipity.  Chance encounters with people, however junior, who have important insight or who have key influence can be very productive.

I caught my breath back as Nanette Young got up to make her presentation.  She focussed on Networking and Procurement using a Farming Metaphor: Networking - the Right Conditions.  This led to her experience and advice on Networking Etiquette: Two is Company, Read the Signals, Excuse me please.  She ended on a business networking success story, including the part The Worshipful Company of Management Consultants played.

Graham Kennedy was last to speak before the roundtable discussion.  His talk concerned how to promote yourself as a management consultant and winning business based on his experience operating a successful management consultancy practice.  He spoke about the importance of having a position statement that articulates a clear message of what your offering is.  This can then be used to promote your practice whenever you have the opportunity: 30 second lift conversations to full tender presentations.  He also supported the importance of serendipity: he once won work resulting from a discussion with a fellow parent at his child’s school.

Sixteen company members and guests attended, slightly more than I had planned for, and a lively discussion took place over drinks and sandwiches.  I was asked by one of our guests, Dr Peter Sharp, Regent’s University, to present to one of their MA Global Management programme events:  The Value of Connecting with People.  Naturally I agreed.