The importance of networking

It's not just about socializing
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
By Michel Theriault

The most successful property and facility managers realize they can’t possibly know it all. They either have a deep knowledge of a particular area or a broad base of general knowledge. Either way, they have to rely on experts or their network to quickly and easily find out about products, services, technology, techniques and tools.

Networking isn’t just about socializing or trying to find the next job. It is a way for property and facility managers to interface and surround themselves with resources that, at some point, will solve a problem, find resources or provide advice about an issue.

Networking with peers and colleagues
Networking with peers is the most obvious way to network. It doesn’t have to be formal. Start by meeting peers at association and other industry events. Then, take it to the next step by connecting with them between meetings and, on occasion, getting several peers together to discuss issues. Don’t hesitate to share with peers from competitor companies, so long as they share too.

Make an effort to network with colleagues outside of company meetings. Call or e-mail them upon obtaining information they may benefit from or contact them when an issue arises. Talking with others about a problem usually leads to a better solution than solving it alone.

Networking through social media
To expand a network, consider business-based social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. These sites provide opportunities to link with other professionals, share information, discuss issues and ask questions.

Another way for property and facility managers to expand their network beyond immediate peers and colleagues is by joining industry-related groups.

Networking with suppliers and contractors
Networking isn’t just about connecting with other property and facility managers. There is a lot to learn from suppliers and contractors. They are experts in their particular fields.

Attend trade shows and conferences
Trade shows and conferences provide access to educational sessions, many of which apply toward maintenance credits for the property and/or facility manager designation, and opportunities to touch and feel products as well as talk to sales representatives.

If attending a conference alone, make an effort to network with strangers.

Get involved with an association
Building a career means more than simply doing a good job for an employer. It also means getting involved in industry associations. Involvement with an association brings a great deal of value to any career and it benefits an employer at the same time. They are also a good place to start networking efforts.

Michel Theriault is principal of Strategic Advisor, a consulting company that helps facility and property managers plan, develop and implement strategic initiatives to improve results.

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