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Network and reputation

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IMG_0507Recently I just started a new assignment as freelance financial consultant. After a period of transition to switch to another activity project that did not succeed, I decided to look again for opportunities as consultant and interim manager. I started to contact again my network of recruiting partners about my availability to start new projects. Few weeks ago, a former colleague sent me a message about a possible opportunity for me. One of her former colleague was looking for a temporary consultant. She informed me that she gave my details to the person and that I will be probably contacted soon.

Few days later, I was indeed contacted by the person and invited to send an updated curriculum vitae that will be submitted to the CFO. Few days later, I was invited to an interview. In the meantime, I Inquired about the company, and noticed that I had the opportunity to know the CFO in a company where I had worked twice, respectively four and fourteen months. I went to the interview, and based on what the company was looking for, I made a proposal of services I could render in accordance with the customer expectation. At the end of the interview, I was directly asked when we could start the collaboration. We agreed to start the next week.

I was of course very happy to have catch and obtained this opportunity. After several month of transition trial and a period of cash burning, my expectations were to restart a project as soon as possible. But when you are contacted by a recruiter for an opportunity, there are, most of the time, few candidates on the case and you are never sure that you will be the winner. The two reasons coming in my mind and making that I got the job, are network and reputation.

Let us talk about the first one, reputation. Reputation is a crucial point to ensure your professional life and future opportunities. It is the positive impression you will make to your collaborator. Positive reputation is built by your competences and your attitude. It is always difficult to evaluate yourself on a humble way, and that is why the feedback of other is very important. The only way to keep your reputation is to improve yourself on an ongoing way, by learning every day and increasing your skills, and offer more services to your customers. Don’t promise what you cannot do. To say that you are not competent for such a task is not a weakness but a sign of honesty and humility. It will make you a trustable person, and trust is the key component of a long term and successful collaboration.

Beside your competences and skills, there is also your attitude as part of your reputation. As interim manager, we are often hired for our strong experience and the capacity to take the lead quickly in a project. But we have to never forget that we are to work with people. We have strong experience but it does not mean that we have nothing to learn from others.  We are able to transpose our experience in a new environment, but we need the help of the other collaborators to discover and have control on this environment. Be a real team player and share knowledge and experience with other. Remember that knowledge is the only thing we have more each other when it is shared. Ask for permanent feedback from your partners in order to know where you are and how you can improve yourself.

The second important point to maximize your chances to catch opportunities is your network. To build your network is an ongoing process. You need to build your network on an ongoing way and not only when you need it. A part of your network is made of contact with people acting in the same area of activities than yours, but also the people you worked with.  The strength of your network is the result of your reputation.  Be aware that to build a network is not only to add contacts on networking tools like LinkedIn or other social media platform.  To add contacts on social media is like making a phone book. Remember that behind these profiles on social networks and media, there are real people with who you have to interact. Maintaining and developing your network is based on communication. Inform your network on regular basis about your activities and projects, about your availability to start new projects. As people often change of companies, it is important to update your own contact database and to take contact with new partners.  You probably noticed that on social network platforms, you see some messages on the information wire of people you do not remember they were part of your network, because they don’t interact regularly with you. Make sure that people knows you are still there.

In your career, you will find that the world is very small. You will meet people who know people who worked with you. Look on your contact on LinkedIn for instance, and see the common contact you have.  You probably know that it takes time to build reputation and network and only a few minutes to destroy it, by doing something negative, and it is even more true with the power of social networks.  Remember that your reputation and network are the most important things to build a successful professional life, to maximize your chances, there are the two things are your own responsibilities.  As mentioned Philippe Gabilliet, professor of a management school in Paris, in a famous video, chance is a competence and you have to work on it.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 20, 2019 at 13:23

Your network, a mine of useful informations.

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Your network, a mine of useful informations.

When I started my career as free lancer in November 2007, the economy was still on the top. In such context, I was advised by a partner to start now, as the interim management market had a lot of potential.

I remember to get my first assignment after 2 weeks, and I had only two days of unemployment between each of next assignments. In 2008, a lecturer invited to an event organized by a partner told us “It is good for you to get assignments in quick succession, but I know interim managers who stay at home during few months without work!” Of course, I was a bit surprised to hear that, but on the other hand, I had in mind that an entrepreneur should know that difficult times could succeed to successful times, and has to be prepared to such situations. To manage is to foresee, isn’t it?

By discussing with other interim managers, they told me also to be workless during few months during economical crisis times. We emphasized the importance to maintain a network, to keep partners updated about your last assignments and the new acquired expertise, giving them information in order to maximize the chance to get opportunities. It was obvious for me that business will not be always on the top; nevertheless, I kept these advices and comments in mind.

In the middle of the year 2008, the financial crisis started, and with such scale, it was obvious that such crisis will have a negative impact on the economy. After few weeks, the customer I was working for, presented decreasing sales figures, and the financial results were in red. They were unable to make any forecast for the next months, as such situation never happened before.

By noticing this, I remembered what was said by my colleagues and partners. When I started my own company, the first step was to increase significantly the equity in order to finance future investment or to keep margin during recession times. I could only notice that I was right to plan things in such a way.

By writing these lines, I wanted to underline the importance of network and the shared experience of your colleague and partners. If they mentioned negative experiences, do not underestimate then, but consider this as useful information you have to analyze, to take conclusions and to take appropriate actions.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 8, 2009 at 00:11

Posted in Business, Network

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