Your effectiveness depends on having a broad network of contacts within your organization. But how do you develop those allies? Here’s a hint: You don’t rely on luck.

It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it
Building a broad, deep network demands attention—and intention. Heidi Fisk, program director for Influent Technology Group, used these three strategies when she was the lone desktop trainer for a global insurance company.

  • Investigate. “I decided to be curious about everything that went on in the company, figuring that anything that was going on could potentially be impacted by technology, and if it was impacted by technology I would probably have to train somebody on it,” Fisk said. She kept up with events by reading the company’s newsletter and daily e-mail updates. Anytime she spotted a new project, she contacted the person behind it. Fisk took the direct approach: “This sounds really interesting. Could I buy you a cup of coffee, and could you tell me more about your project?”
  • Keep your back burner simmering. All that coffee didn’t lead to new training initiatives every time, but making contact was valuable nonetheless. “That [initial] discussion would open up the door. I’d mentally keep it on the back burner,” Fisk said, and more often than not, eventually she’d use the new resource she’d developed.
  • Meet with the honchos. Fisk made it a rule to meet at least annually with all the division heads. The benefit: “Seeing what their big causes of pain were and proactively trying to address those and make them an ally early on.” Fisk would ask them, “What keeps you up at night?” If she could find a technology hook to alleviate the honchos’ problems, she’d suggest working with them to develop a strategy. Her pitch: “We know technology. We know how people interact with technology. Let us help you make this less painful.”

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