If you’ve read my post on the PHACE framework, you might recall the C stands for Connected. It also happens to be a core value at New Relic. That’s not a coincidence – I’ve seen the power of this value in action. For me, being connected isn’t the same as being extroverted. You can have introverts who are connected, and extroverts who aren’t. I look for folks that demonstrate the willingness to connect with others: certainly they need to connect with colleagues in your marketing team, and also elsewhere within your organization (Sales, Finance, IT, etc). The value in connectedness is not purely social. What being connected does is provide an amplifying effect for your employees and by extension the entire marketing team. By being able to make (and keep) connections and establish deep, mutually beneficial relationships, each employee is adding man and womanpower to their own abilities.
This isn’t limited to internal connections either. It’s important to seek out the kinds of employees that are eager to network externally and attend conferences, technology user groups, and other local events to broaden their knowledge and network. Much as Metcalfe’s Law applies to telecommunications networks, the power of any individual’s network is amplified exponentially with more connections. On the Marketing team at New Relic, there is a clear expectation that we support individuals attending external events. We only ask that folks create and present a summary afterwards to recap key takeaways of the conference and specifically how we’d apply those takeaways to New Relic. This has led to some of the most important innovations that we’ve applied on our marketing team.
Think about it this way – if you’re having operational issues between Marketing and Sales systems do you want to turn to a competent, but silo-ed team member, or someone who has made meaningful connections with others in the organization (and externally)? Even the most skilled individual will hit a limit in what they can do on their own — someone less experienced but better connected will not only usually be able to make progress on the current initiative(s), but has a higher ceiling over the long haul because their skills are amplified by the power of their network. I’ve observed that high performers often seek out others proactively to help them achieve their goals, that is they value being connected intrinsically, but it’s also a trait you can encourage and develop in those who don’t do it naturally.
How to encourage being connected as a value within your team:
- Ask employees each year to put together a prioritized wish list of events and conferences they would ideally like to attend. Have them list them out by location and date, and state the anticipated business value of attending. Support them attending as many as are reasonable – I’d say 2-3 is about right. By planning ahead it’s easier to make it happen.
- Create a list of the people you’d ideally like to have lunch or a drink with over the next few months – people you most admire in the industry for instance, and share it with your team. As you meet those folks, make sure to share details of the conversation. Demonstrate how beneficial it can be.
- When new employees start within Marketing, make it a habit to meet them even if they aren’t a part of your individual team. At the end of the one-on-one, give them a list of the other folks they should meet with, trying your best to think of colleagues they might not meet naturally. By doing this you give them an ‘excuse’ to meet others and make connections that could be helpful in the future. If you are starting new somewhere, make sure you ask that question of people you meet with during onboarding. Your goal should be to come out of every conversation with at least 3 other folks you need to meet.
Bottom-line: being Connected is a win-win for employee and employer. I can’t really say it better than Reid Hoffman in The Alliance: “growing their professional networks helps employees transform their career; employee networking helps the company transform itself.”