Q&A from Webinar: How Leaders Network for IESE Business School Alumni Learning Program

Here is the full recording of the How Leaders Network webinar from February 9th for the IESE Alumni community.  We had 520 people connected to the zoom call, and some great questions.  We didn’t get round to answering all of the questions, so I have taken some time to give full answers here in this post.

The session is available here for IESE Alumni.

The slides from the session are available here:

Networking Resources on this blog

Questions and My Answers from the Webinar

“There are various levels of ‘networking’ from your close friend to the professional contact with whom you have met a couple of times at an event. How should each of them be managed?” Klaus

I’d say that each of us has 10 people who are family/close friends, 20 friends we see irregularly, 200 acquaintances that we have had an opportunity to share some experience together and 7.7 billion people with whom we have no real connection.

I remember a conference where Verne Harnish gave a keynote about high growth entrepreneurs. He recommended a strategy of making a 3 lists – 20 VIP, 30 important and 200 valuable.  The 20 Very Important people in your network you would proactively seek to help them each week…  one suggestion I heard back then was to do a google alert for the name of the person – and every time their name is mentioned in the press or around the web you will be notified.

Personally, I don’t deliberately “manage” my network.  When I travel to a city I will often look up a couple of people and see if they could meet for a drink or coffee.  When I am at one of IESE campus around the world I take some time to wander the corridors and say hello or have a coffee with professors and staff.  I have 2 seats at FC Barcelona and I will reach out to people to invite them to come to the game… this can be a powerful second step in building a relationship around a shared passion (football).

My father has been on the boards of an orchestra, an opera festival, 3 public companies, 2 universities…  The orchestra and the opera festival create wonderful moments that he can connect with people – he invites many people to these musical events, he asks people to sponsor musicians, he asks friends to come to operas…

I would suggest that rather than “managing” a network – you create opportunities around things that you have a passion for.  Get involved in music or culture or galleries or politics… anything that gives you a reason to ask others for help for a cause that is bigger than you.

“How can we network in a digital world where you cannot meet or have lunch together?” José P.

Zoom is a powerful tool. I’ve used it extensively to have 20 minute conversations over the last 11 months. It is actually more effective than meeting for coffee for an initial chat – we both save on time to travel to a location. We can go straight to conversation. Covid has made it completely acceptable to have video calls.

The challenge is that on video it is so clear if you are unorganised, unprepared and unable to facilitate an interesting conversation that is mutually interesting.

How to do networking in a natural way in personal and professional life? Thanks for the great session Rogger B.

Have interest in the other person. What are their dreams, goals, aspirations? Where are they doing well? Where are they facing difficulty? Who has played a significant role in their development as a person and professional?

“How does one promote his work to a higher level than your manager’s without stepping on your boss’s toes? There are multiple managers who frown upon such actions from their subordinates.”

I laugh and tell all IESE students that the answer to every question is “It depends”.  My friend Matt told me about the P.I.E. model for career management.

  • P = Performance – First, you need to be good at the actual work of your job. In the first 10 years of your career, this is where to focus on getting really good.
  • I = Impact – Next, you need to get onto project that are doing work that is making a tangible difference to what the leadership of the company value. In the second 10 years of your career, this becomes important. It is not enough from 30 to 40 years old to just do good work… if you care about your career it is vital that you get to work on projects that have a big impact (and avoid working on projects of low value).
  • E = Exposure – Third, you need to find a way to get positive exposure with the senior leaders of your business.  This becomes important from 40 onwards… you are good at performing the work, you are good at identifying opportunities to have a big impact… now you need to build relationships of trust with senior decision makers.

now we hear your full Irish voice loud and clear!! 🙂 Ricardo R.

I understand that the first 10 minutes the microphone was not doing its job and the audio was going up and down… Glad you let us know!

You sai you started of pretty clumsy when holding a 20 minute conversation with someone but now are pretty good at it. What advice would you give to holding such a conversation? Wadzi

I have gotten much better in several areas:

  • Reaching out by email/phone/LinkedIn with a short request to have a conversation
  • Being clear on who I am and why I am interested in a conversation (I will often tell a short version of the Sandra Erliso story…)
  • Asking good questions and making the conversation about the other person, their projects, their dreams, their aspirations, their lessons
  • Gratitude – via email, gifts of books, connecting them to others who could be of help etc

“Once you have the first contact and conversation how to build a relationship and keep it going?” Carolina S.

Serve their goals and objectives. The more I can get to know their personal and professional objectives, the more ideas I can have on how to contribute.

You said you have a very efficient way how to make the 20 min. Conversation valuable. Can you share some insides how you do that? Stefan S.

Here is a list of “Questions for Life” that I have collected over the years

I have done a lot of sales training over the last 16 years. It is an important skill as an entrepreneur. Most of sales training is about helping the other person get clear on their current situation and help them articulate in a rational way (and feel in an emotional way) the value of making some change.

How do you get the contact you want and build and strong and long lasting relationship with someone with more power than you that does need less from you than you need from her/him? Isaac B.

Begin small.  Find something they have accomplished and let them know you find it inspiring (I am assuming that you do find it inspiring… honesty is important).

How often the Meetings should take place? After the first one it might be difficult to find more topics to discuss Ruben R.

If I find that it is hard to get a good conversation going in our first meeting, I leave them alone. If I find that I am doing all the work to ask questions and keep the conversation flowing, this is not the time… and maybe this is not the person that you can build a trusted relationship with.

Are there differences in the way you do networking when you are in your late fifties (my case) from when you were in your early twenties? Pablo E.

Absolutely. I didn’t think it was important in my twenties.  I didn’t have many clear skills that solve other’s problems.

Today I have several valuable skills that can be of great help to other people.  I am pretty good at helping another get really clear on who they are and what they aspire to achieve. I am very good to helping them articulate their ideas in a way that they can attract many resources to make things happen.

Because I presume that depend on your current level and the level of the people you’re trying to impact/reach to. Isaac B.

When I was younger I was less able to help people in any material way – especially in Spain.

The book “So Good they Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport is a powerful study.  He interviewed 500 people over 50 years old who were “personally and professionally fulfilled”.  His quest – what did they do to create a life that was personally and professionally fulfilling?

His answer – first you need to develop “rare and valuable skills”.

If you don’t have “rare and valuable skills” you are not in a great place to help others.  I recommend the book to many people as they think about how to develop a successful career.

What can you do when you are 20-30 and want to meet senior people? First tell them what they have done that you find inspiring. Then ask good questions about them.  End the conversation before it gets boring.  Then send a written thank you (this is so rare that you will stand out a mile).

“How can you learn to ask effective questions to people you just meet?” Manuela V.

Care about them, about who they are, about what they aspire to become.  Don’t ever assume that a person has their whole life sorted out.  Everyone has some areas of life where they are not getting the fulfilment they hunger for.

If you were to have a 15-min Zoom with a potential mentor, what three questions would you ask them to move up in their “list” and build a powerful and lasting-mentoring relationship? Javier C.

This was answered in the webinar, but here’s the summary:

  • First, we need to ask about their past… their journey to today, the moments and the people that have impacted them.  Questions: Who inspires you? What are the 3 lessons you have learnt in your career?
  • Second, we need to ask about their future.  What are their aspirations, dreams, aims, plans?
  • Third, we need to get a sense of where they are today.  In Vistage we start every meeting with everyone sharing 2 numbers – 1-10 personal, 1-10 professional.  10 is best month of your life.

If you have been able to build a conversation around these three areas – past experience, future dreams and current situation… then there is connection and a relationship can begin.

If you talk about yourself for 15 minutes, there is nothing.

I volunteer to open a chiringuito on the beach with Conor if he´s still interested! 🙂 Ricardo R.

I tried that. I had a chain of ice cream stores (Giangrossi) and we won the concession for a chiringuito. We learnt that it is not such a wonderful environment to run a business.  I’d rather have a friend with a chiringuito these days.

I would be honored to hear the advise on whether it is better to focus on building a wider network or focusing on strengthtening a smaller inner circle? Both? Irina P.

It depends. If you don’t know exactly where you are going and are still exploring, then a wider network will give you more ideas.  If you have clarity on what is important to you, then focus on people that play a key role in that domain.

What is your main advise to young entrepreneurs that are seaking to get good mentorship and good network but do not have much to add to successful businessmen. Marco B.M.

Mentors: don’t ask them for permission. Just watch them and learn from them.  You don’t need to ask Elon Musk for permission to learn from his approach to life and business. You don’t need to ask Rockerfeller permission to read Titan, his biography by Chernow.

There are several types of mentor.  There are several roles mentors can play in your life.  Learn more here: What is Mentorship?

how long do you suggest a first talk with a potential mentor should take? Mercedes Fevre

Enough to connect. You can do that in 15-20 minutes.

How do you build on after the “First Great Meeting”? Lets say I’ve had a great 20 minute conversation… how do I build the relationship further? Whats the next conversation so the relationship can grow deeper? Wadzi

There is a book “Never Eat Alone”.  I don’t like the book as a whole, but it does have a lot of suggestions for how to manage your network in a deliberate

Thanks Conor and IESE. another great session. Congrats!! Ricardo R.

😉

How do you manage your network? Do you have your own CRM system for meeting someone once a week? Will A.

Linkedin is pretty good for this.  I don’t have a specific CRM system for personal networking.  I have a page in my journal where I add names of people that I want to meet, and also for those I want to thank.

In my business we use Hubspot, but this would be an expensive tool for a personal list.

I send out Christmas cards each year – and about 50 go to people who I want to thank for positively contributing to my life during the year.  I have a google docs spreadsheet with address details for all of these people.

“Conor thank you for existing :-)” Rubén M.

Very kind!

Thank you! Sun-Sun de S.

😉

What about professional over 55 ? Which will be your advise for them to improve their networking skills and relationships? Maria S.

It was an incredible eye opening conversation…. Thanks!!!! Michel W.

😉

 

Past Webinars Q&A

 

How to Be Boring (5 Specific Areas to Develop)

This is the detailed guide to boring others. In this video from Portugal, I share the 5 best ways that you can develop an ability to bore the people around you.

The 5 Specific Areas to Develop to Be Boring

  1. Negative Attitude
  2. No Interest in Others
  3. Stay in your Comfort Zone
  4. Be a People Pleaser
  5. No Social Awareness

The 4 Areas to Develop to be Deeply Interesting

  1. Find a Cause to Support
  2. Take Courageous Leaps of Faith (help others)
  3. Get out and Explore this World
  4. Cultivate Weirdness 

 

The #1 Reason Why you don’t have a Strong Network

It is not that you don’t go to enough “networking” events.

It is not that you don’t approach strangers at these “networking” events.

It is not that nobody ever told you that a strong network is important.

It is not that you have too few connections on LinkedIn or Facebook, or twitter or Google+.  (Connecting is not Networking.)

The #1 Reason

Is this: You only want something from me.

You don’t intend to help me.  You are there for you.

  • You’re not expert in anything useful to me.
  • You’re not connected to someone who can help me.
  • You have no experiences that are relevant to my challenges.
  • You aren’t funny enough to make me laugh.

If you do care…  the networking will take care of itself.  It is called reciprocity.  It works.

Your Job is Not Your Job

If someone asked you, “What is your job?”, what would your response be?  Go ahead, take a minute to think about your answer.  I asked a similar question a few weeks ago in my post Become Indispensable: Solve Interesting Problems)

Professor Fred Kofman tells a story about a question that changed his outlook on this question.

Did you say that you’re a coach? Entrepreneur? Do you manage operations? Maybe CEO?  Well, as Fred points out, what you think is your job is not actually your job.

Your Job is Not Your Job

Here is Fred’s presentation:

How do you answer now?

Did Fred change your mind?  (Fred’s full presentation is available here on youtube)

Career Advice From LinkedIn’s Billionaire Founder Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman, Entrepreneur

Reid Hoffman says it took him 15 years after graduating from Stanford to figure out what he wanted to do with his career.

Hoffman eventually founded LinkedIn, a $19 billion public company.

On graduation, he thought he would become an academic. Then he started some companies.  Several failed…  then he created LinkedIn.  It didn’t fail 😉

What lessons can we learn from Hoffman’s journey?

Expanding on ideas from his recent book “The Startup of You”, Hoffman and his co-author created a slideshow presentation called “The 3 Secrets Of Highly Successful Graduates”.  The have graciously allowed me to republish it here.

What did you learn from Reid Hoffman?  What are the key capabilities for navigating successfully in the career seas of the future?

How can I learn to be more Influential?

Daniel Shi gives a simple but profound answer to “How can I learn to be more Influential?” over on Quora:

I think that you can certainly become influential without having to do something “extraordinary.”

7 Steps to become more Influential

  1. Connect with many people. Learn that just because someone may not be important today, it doesn’t mean that he or she won’t be in the future. And even better if it is with your help.
  2. Remember people’s names and what you talked about. Have a repository in memory of what you talked about. Everybody you know has some request for help that you may be able to help them with. Have it cycling in your head as you go about meeting more people and encountering new things. When something clicks, act upon it. And that brings me to:
  3. Follow up. Find reasons to talk to people. Do this out of genuine desire to build relationships and to help people. Learn to tell the difference between being genuine and when you are being too forward.
  4. Develop a love of helping other people. See the success of other people as being your success, rather than a lost opportunity for you. If you help someone else out, they will remember you down the road.
  5. Don’t think of interactions with people as a one shot deal. You will no doubt meet that person again some day. You will have another interaction with them as well.
  6. Learn to communicate well. None of the above is really applicable if you find it difficult to craft a message.
  7. Be likeable, but not to everybody.

And of course, this is the most important lesson that I ever learned from my college accounting professor:

Your name is your most valuable asset.

Original Text: Quote of Daniel Shi’s answer to How can I become influential?

Further Reading

What do you think?