Why Internal Networks Matter
For me, being able to do my job well relies on three things: enthusiasm (I love what I do and the industry my clients work in), skill (that I hope I’ve acquired over a long career marketing for financial services and FinTech companies under some great mentors), and being connected. One thing I find stands in the way of people looking to make the jump from good to great is the networks they have not yet built within their client’s organization or within their own company, depending on if they are in-house or agency side.
How plugged in you are to the business very quickly sets you apart from colleagues. If you have your finger on the pulse you’re able to react faster, find new opportunities, and demonstrate that you not only talk the talk, but also understand the business at a strategic level. This never goes unnoticed by senior management. You are the employee that ends up with all the knowledge, so you can start to demonstrate why you should get that all important promotion or be trusted with that awesome new client.
But how do you go about building these internal networks? Particularly, how do you navigate this if you have a client or boss who is protective of their internal relationships?
First, build trust with your client/boss so they see that you’re not looking to step on toes, and merely aim to help make them look good by doing a great job. If they trust you with their relationships, you’re 90% there. Respect those relationships, as they have been hard won and aren’t yours to throw away.
Second, in a world of social networking, nothing beats face to face. I work remotely from my New York and London based teams, and we use Skype whenever we can, as I’m a firm believer that any face time makes a huge difference. You can’t build a full relationship over email. You don’t have to be the last man standing on a night out to build that all-important relationship either. Coffee, a phone call, or five minutes next to someone at their desk are more than sufficient to help you get to know their world, their challenges, and what they are trying to achieve. Importantly, remember that no one is 100% their job. Show some interest in who they are outside of their professional role.
And finally, put the insight you gain into action. Let’s say you spent five minutes with the VP of product today. What did they tell you that you could feed back to your team? Does it slightly change the messaging you’ve been using in the press? Have they been coming up against new prospects that aren’t familiar with the company? Do you need to spend time rethinking your targeting to better reach these people? All of this informs a strategic marketing plan. Plans should never be static. Using the information you gather from your network is really sets you and your team up to achieve the best possible results.