NEVER STOP NETWORKING (and Visibility is Key)!

I read with great interest in mid-September 2019 an editorial by Matt Bud, The Financial Executives Networking Group global chairman, entitled, ‘Do You Have Enough Friends?’

It brought to mind a couple of my mantras, ‘never stop networking,’ and ‘visibility is key.’

Let me explain.

Most current and/or former Chief Financial know based on past experience that the time to initiate, develop and enhance business relationships with bankers is when you are flush with cash, not when the coffers are empty.

Why is that?

An astute financial executive knows full well that when funds are needed, and sometimes that means in short order, you don’t want to be spending time introducing you and your firm to your banking contacts as the time spent doing that means a delay in funding for new projects above the return on investment hurdle rate, expansion, acquisition and the like.

A week or more spent on introductions may mean opportunities missed that may never come back.

Just yesterday I received a call from a business owner I met with a few months ago. He wasn’t ready to sell then but now he is, and thankfully I made that effort to meet with him this past spring so I was top of mind (and visibility was key) at the right time.

The same is true with job search. During one of my transitions (I’ve had almost a dozen since 1999 due to mergers, acquisitions and executive management changes) earlier this millennium I had no job prospects on the horizon so I pulled out my rolodex (remember this clunky thing??) and asked to meet with a close investor relations colleague of mine in the hopes of making pencil entries on one of my cards for new work info for a mutual business colleague or perhaps make a new card for a fresh contact with an endorsement/referral to reach out to.

I was living in Connecticut at the time and it was between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in 2006.

I came away with a number of corrections and new contacts to reach out to. A win for me!

A week later he received a call from a prominent executive recruiter asking him if he would like to be considered for a brand-new investor relations executive opportunity in Chicago. He said thanks but no thanks, and added, ‘I just me with Steve Eschbach and he has the credentials you are looking for so give him a call.’

I received that call, was late for two interviews due to weather and airplane mechanical issues (subject for another blog post) in early 2007 but by May of that year I secured the position and I have been in Chicagoland ever since.

This story also thwarts the notion that networking during the Holidays is not worth the effort…bah, humbug!

I find it amazing that some executives feel the need to disengage from networking once they land a new corporate role. Keep in mind that today’s average job tenure is only 2.8 years so like Matt Bud always says, ‘jobs are something to do between searches.’

I should know as I have had 15 different executive roles in over 40 years and that includes owing a half-dozen businesses over that time frame (that number is 16 over 50 years if you count the neighborhood lemonade stands). I attribute all of this to continuous networking and being visible at all times.

Try it, you’ll like it!

Author: Steve Eschbach

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