BA Skillset : Refresh the lost art of ‘networking’!

In recent times, there has been a renewed focus on Stakeholder Management during business change projects.  Formal Stakeholder Management helps to ensure that expectations are managed, and conflict is addressed.  With this renewed focus on formal management techniques, it’s easy to forget the value of your informal network of colleagues, suppliers, friends and associates.

Your network is there to support you, and you are in a great position to help them. As a Business Analyst, It’s great to expand your network as widely as possible – both within your organisation and beyond.  Your network can help you solve problems, and can provide you with advice and guidance (after all, you’d do the same for them, right?). It’s often the case that information cascades through informal networks far quicker than through any formal methods.  These chance encounters could lead you to discover synergies between projects, hear of new opportunities, or maybe even get your next job (!)

So how do you expand your network?   This is especially challenging given that “Networking” sounds scary.  It often brings back memories of ill-fated cocktail parties, or Champagne-and-canapés product launches.  The reality is that it doesn’t have to be that way – any place, event or situation when you are meeting new people (or building relationships with existing colleagues) is an opportunity to expand your network.  That includes the queue for the coffee machine!

So why not spend a little extra time at the coffee machine next time.  Who knows what information you might find, or who you might be able to help.

If you’re serious about expanding your network, here are 4 “quick tips”:

1. Take the opportunity to exchange details: Make sure you make the most of any potential networking opportunity open to you, and exchange details.  This could be a training course where you’ll meet other delegates, or even an internal meeting.  If appropriate, make sure you have a good supply of business cards ready.  Follow up the next day with an e-mail.

2. Run your own mini-CRM system: It needn’t be complicated, but keep track of who you have met.  Perhaps keep a file of business cards, or update your Outlook address book.

3. Stay in touch: Make a point of staying in touch with people.  Perhaps go out to lunch once a quarter, or catch up for coffee.  Find out what they’re up to, and share your experiences.  Find out how you can help each other!

4. Join a networking group: One of the best ways to meet new people is to join a networking group.  The IIBA would be a good start, but also consider general business networking groups in your area.  Try googling ‘Chamber of Commerce’,  ‘JCI’  and ‘BNI’ for starters.

Do you consciously “network”?  If so, what are your experiences?

This article was originally published by Adrian Reed on Pragnalysis.com, a site dedicated to Business Analysis in the real world, and more importantly, home to an entirely free requirements toolkit.

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