What CIOs Need To Know About (Social) Networking

by drjim on December 10, 2014

Networking is all about meeting new people

Networking is all about meeting new people
Image Credit: Freelancers Union

As CIO you know that despite the importance of information technology, networking is so much more than just connecting servers with cables. It turns out that it has a lot to do with meeting new people and expanding your social network. This is valuable stuff. Now the big question is how to go about doing it correctly…?

Networking 101

Ok, so I’ve gotten you to agree that this networking thing is important. That’s an important first step. Now what? The first thing that you need to realize is that the next time that you attend an event in which you’ll have a chance to do some networking, you need to understand that you goal must be to connect with the people who are there. Just exchanging business cards is not enough!

The way that you can connect with someone is by expressing an interest in them. Ask them questions about what they do for a living, where they come from, and where they went to school. These are all fairly safe topics because they’ll easily be able to answer them without a lot of thought.

Your goal needs to be to get them to tell you their story. You want to understand what their passions are and what drives them. The great thing about doing this is that we can all easily remember stories and so you’ll forever be able to recall what they tell you when you meet them again.

Networking Warning Signs

If only I could tell you that every networking opportunity would turn out well for you. I mean, you’ve got the CIO job so everyone should want to network with you, right? Well, no. You need to be aware when your networking is not going so well.

When you are in a conversation with someone, you need to pay careful attention to them. What you are looking for are signs that the conversation is over. If you can detect these, then you’ll need to wrap things up.

Specific signs that the other person is done talking to you include when their eyes start to wander around the room looking for someone else to talk to, or when the conversation that you are having with them no longer comes easily. When either of these things start to happen, excuse yourself from the conversation and go find someone else to network with.

What All Of This Means For You

Having the CIO position can be a lonely job. In order to make sure that you are not alone, you need to get good at doing that networking thing. In order to be successful at this, you need to make sure that you know what you need to do.

The first thing that a CIO needs to know about networking is that you want to really connect with people, not just exchange business cards with them. Take the time to discover what makes them tick. If they start to look off into the distance or seek a way out of the conversation, wrap things up and move on.

Networking is a critical job skill that none of us were ever taught. To get good at this we need to be willing to get out there and practice it. No, we won’t always be successful, but we will be getting better and in the end, that’s what really counts.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How often do you think that a CIO should be practicing his or her networking skills?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Here’s a quick question for you: what is more important for a CIO to do – cut costs or boost revenues? I think that it’s fair to say that because of the importance of information technology, we are called on to do both at the same time; however, they can’t both be of equal value. One has to be more important than the other. Which one should we be spending more time on?

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