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The Power of Authentic Networking & Relationship Building

Recently, I hosted an AFP LIVE Webinar and then I spoke at the Windy City Summit in Chicago.

During the session itself, I was asked to share some networking tips based upon my experience as a global recruiter of treasury professionals.

What is the best way to authentically connect / network with others?

The first thing is TO BE YOURSELF.

Not to come along with a persona of something you’re not.

Be authentic to yourself about some of the things that you are doing, some of the things that you want to grow into, because that will appeal to people who want to help you.

If there’s areas or gaps with you then say, “Look I’m looking to develop myself in these areas, can you help me?”

So be yourself. People want to help naturally enough. If you reach out to somebody and say, can you help me? It’s very difficult for people to say, no, I can’t help you, I don’t want to. People naturally want to help each other because we are social animals. So that’s one of the key things.

Other ways to connect and network are to go to conferences, attend webinars like the ones I did with the AFP & Eurofinance previously.

These events mean that you can connect with others, and you get an opportunity to meet other individuals who you can build connections with, who have common interests and work in a similar way, and they’re going to help you achieve greater success in your treasury careers.

You can also then engage in conversations, and they’re going to be interested because they want to learn from your experiences and you can learn from them.

Then you can move onto LinkedIn and you can widen your network if you like. So you can join groups and do lots of other things like participating in discussions which then pays it forward. So offer assistance or support to others in your network when you can.

Someone who I’ve known for many years, was seeking support and guidance about connecting with people in industry. So, I said, look if you want some help, I’m here to help. I’m not going to get anything out of it except for helping her.

Pay it forward. By doing that and if you are willing to give value forward, it’s going to come back to you at a later stage. But if you do it without wanting and without saying that I must get something in return, then it will always work. If you don’t, and you are always thinking, what’s in it for me, you are always going to fail.

How to keep relationships alive? If you meet someone at an event – you’re friendly, how do you keep in touch over time?

You’re very busy. Everybody’s busy. No kidding! BUT you have to do the work if you want to keep the relationship going. As I spoke about recently at a session in Chicago, let’s talk about the word net-WORK. Its work. It’s not easy!

Before I’ve even gone to the conferences I go to, I reach out to my audience and say please come to my session, I’d love to meet you. I love to make them feel more comfortable, particularly if they’re an introverted person. People feel then that they can come to me.

That will broaden my network. And that’s a key part of my role.

Now, treasury professionals, you are very outwardly focused, so part of networking is something you should work on. If you do meet someone, what I would suggest is to follow up after each event, if you meet someone, make a note when you’re there with them about what you spoke about and use this to refer to and stay connected. They will then remember you and say how great it was to meet you.

By doing that, it personalizes your connection. Then you can connect with them on LinkedIn and share relevant content and engage with their posts. It’s going to broaden your network. If you can, maybe schedule check-ins.

Now, they might be in a different part of the country or a different country to you entirely. That doesn’t matter. Funnily enough, you can use online tools now such as Zoom to have a virtual coffee.

You can then look forward to seeing them later at the next conference and make the effort. If you look for opportunities to collaborate and support others, they will come back and it will always pay you back in spades.

Someone mentioned that they have a bucket list of curiosity questions to ask others ready to go when they’re going to meet people. How helpful is this?

This really helps. Especially if you have this ready about who you are, what you do, and the difference you’ve made at a company, your elevator pitch, if you like.

But in addition to that, you could ask them some of the following for example;

  • How did you first get into treasury?

I ask that every week on my weekly podcast How they got into finance and their treasury, how it came about a lot of the time accidentally. Nowadays, it’s more usual that people are actually planning to go into treasury.

Other things you might ask are:

  • What are some of the challenges they faced in their current role/past roles/when making moves and how did they overcome them?

Maybe look into the future;

  • Are there any trends or technologies that they find interesting that you might have in common?

By asking this you will find out the way they think and about what’s happening in the future.

  • Also, what advice would they offer you from their perspective as a more Senior or Junior treasury professional?

Get their advice, give it back and share….it’s a great thing to do!

What other ways can you use to keep your relationships alive?

Someone said, look, I’m very busy so I struggle to find the time and often neglect that area. Well, that’s your fault, you are the one that is going to suffer.

It’s important to connect with people and to make time for it, maybe even schedule it once a week. I’ve often said this, maybe make just 10-15 minutes on a Friday morning just before you’re kicking off your day.

Don’t do it on a Monday because you’re never going to get round to it. But maybe on a Friday when you come in, just get your first coffee, sit there, and reach out to three maybe five people.

That’s what we do as a business. We reach out to five people as a minimum every single week. Now, okay, there’s six of us in the office and we do this. That’s 30 people a week so over a hundred a month and over a thousand a year!

This is on top of our day jobs, but we’re having those conversations.

That’s one of the key things.