Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chief Networking Officer

Relationships are more important that ever before in today's high tech world. Even though we can instantly do business with anyone around the world, via the internet, people still do business with people they know and like.

Professional services firms rely on their senior "rainmakers" (and their strong professional networks) to make sure that they have new business. Those who understand how to use their business connections and can produce results are the "Chief Networking Officers" for their companies.

While these rainmaker's official titles are not "CNO", their role can be every bit as important as other "C-Level" positions. Do not discredit the importance of human connections in the business world. Just because you might not like to network, do not discredit the value of those who do it well.

CNO Partners believes that companies should formalize the CNO function. They go on to detail on their website about the characteristics of companies who could benefit from having a "CNO". Does your company need to do any of the following:

*Establish a differential advantage in a competitive market.
*Overcome a cultural divide.
*Improve an outsourcing operation.
*Enhance a marketing campaign.
*Deal with a pre- or post-merger situation.
*Undergo a corporate reorganization.
*Facilitate knowledge transfers.
*Reduce costs through cross-boundary collaboration.
*Improve employee loyalty and morale.
*Enhance customer goodwill.
*Create a unified corporate culture.
*Build or improve relationships with alliance partners.
*Enhance a word-of-mouth campaign.
*Develop a cross-boundary source of skills and talent.
*Add interpersonal relationship management to an advertising campaign.
*Establish a common ground for the organization's networking activities.
*Transform into a flat organization.

If you answered "yes" to the above questions, then you should evaluate how you treat the human capital inside and outside your firm. While I do not think that most companies will run out and hire CNO's (although some should!!!), the truth is that you probably already have individuals in your firm who fill this role. You need to champion your natural networkers and encourage their efforts.

In the end, it is results that matter. A networker must help raise the visibility of the company, attract more prospects and clients, and positively impact the company. While the purpose is higher sales, not every interaction is going to produce immediate tangible results. Networking is not about short term wins. A successful CNO knows about patience.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

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