Marketplace Observations

Rather than Network — Connect, Help, and Be Enriched

By Beth Zimmerman

Whether you are at the early stage of your career, or a well-seasoned professional, you have probably heard about the importance of networking and maybe even done your share of it. Did you enjoy it, did you dread it, or did you feel somewhere in between?

NetworkingIsAllAboutFeelingsMy experience is that many people – maybe even most – don’t relish the idea of “networking.” There are lots of reasons why this makes perfect sense.  Perhaps they feel uncertain about how to engage in conversation with new people or, even if they enjoy social environments, find it challenging to fit networking activities into their demanding schedules. Most commonly, I find that people are concerned about coming across as a pushy salesperson.

These are understandable barriers to networking that even those who greatly value and enjoy meeting new people can face. They can be overcome, however, without making any big changes in your life, and even without going to any formal “networking” events. Below are some tips that can help make networking a bit easier and more enjoyable because you never know who you will meet and what role that person may play in your life or – when you look a little deeper – what new connections you may discover with someone you already know.

Reframe your Mindset

As with anything, the way you think about networkingcaptionnetworking plays a big role in how you approach it and how it subsequently plays out for you. The term “networking” doesn’t conjure in most people’s minds what it is really all about. Here are some alternative ways of thinking about and approaching this activity:

  • Connecting. Networking is really an opportunity to connect with other people and make new friends. Think about the people you enjoy having in your life, and now consider the possibility of adding more good people into your world – to your business world, your personal world, or maybe even both.
  • Helping. A good business prospect is an organization that has a need that you or your organization can help them to address. A good partner is an individual or organization that you or your organization can work with for your mutual benefit. It is all about helping.
  • Enriching. Not only can networking allow you to help others, it can absolutely enrich your own life. While this is a very expansive frame, you can never predict how a new connection may come into play in your life – either in the near term or many years in the future. Here at Evans, we have a staff member who met her husband at a networking event! Really, you never know.

Make it Easy on Yourself to Connect with Others

Beyond thinking about networking in a new way, there are many things you can do – in a way that’s comfortable for you – to increase connecting opportunities.

  • Get to know friends in a new way. In many cases, we actually know very little about our friends’ work experiences. Inquiring about the joys and challenges of our friends’ work situations can allow us to find mutual areas of experience, and possibly offer help to one another in enhancing this critical area of our lives.
  • SmilingPullQuoteMeet friends of friends. By sharing our own work experiences with friends and inviting a conversation about work, you may both discover that you know people that the other might like to meet. Friends are usually more than willing to introduce you to their friends or connections with whom you might have something in common, and people are typically very open to meeting someone that a friend wants them to meet. This is the whole concept behind LinkedIn – to leverage not only your network, but the networks of those to whom you are connected. You could even set up your own event where your friends each bring a friend, so everyone gets to meet new people.
  • Share common interests, even for a few minutes. Another natural way to make connections is to get to know people who share a common interest or affiliation. This can be through a club or organization – a biking group, book club, or professional association – or it can be very low key and brief. Just invite someone you’d like to know better to join you in something you enjoy doing and fits easily in your life. For me, this is often a walk around the lovely pond outside of Evans’ offices. Just a 20 minute walk has offered me a chance for rich conversation with numerous colleagues, not to mention the extra bonuses of exercise and sunshine.

Make It Easy for Others to Connect with You

In addition to the things you can do to make it easier on yourself, there are numerous things you can do to make it easier for others to connect with you.

  • Smile. Smiling is the most basic and easiest way of conveying a positive message to others and welcoming them into conversation with you. People who smile are infinitely more approachable than those who do not.social_networking
  • Be open to conversation. If someone tries to engage in conversation with you, be open to a brief exchange with them. Challenge yourself by seeing if you can find a connection with this person. It could be as simple as talking about a favorite product in the supermarket checkout line. From there, maybe you’ll find out something more that can lead to a work connection!
  • Let your personal network know about your work, areas of expertise, and interests. Sharing information with people you already know makes it easy for them to identify connections you previously didn’t even know you had. One of the easiest ways to exchange information is through social networking. While there are many social media platforms available, you don’t have to be on all of them, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time on them. However, strategically using these platforms is a wonderful way not only for you to identify new connections with others, but to help others identify connections with you. The insights gained through social networking can provide a great foundation for expanded conversations and shared activities over time.

At Evans, we aim to foster an environment and culture that supports connections among our team members as well as connections with others outside of our organization. We believe this strengthens us as an organization and as individuals. What approaches have you found create connection opportunities in your life and organization and how have you been enriched? 

Good CAARMA improves Merger and Acquisition Outcomes

by Sue Evans

Between 50 and 80 percent of mergers and acquisitions fail to reach their projected operational and financial potential[1].  Among the reasons frequently cited is lack of consideration for the human factor in the transaction – e.g., dismissing clashes of culture, or lack of resources committed to engaging human talents.   Buyers, however, can employ assessment tactics that minimize their risk and improve outcomes. 

mergers

Formulate: Set business strategy and acquisition criteria
Locate: Identify target markets and companies; issue letter of intent
Investigate: Conduct due diligence, draft integration plan and set negotiation parameters
Negotiate: Set deal terms, secure talent, and close deal
Integrate: Finalize integration plan for organization, financials, people, and systems

The majority of company information is collected in the INVESTIGATE stage – to inform the overall value of the deal and set the stage for the NEGOTIATE stage.

What is often lacking during this stage is an assessment of the organizational culture, defined by individual and collective behaviors, beliefs, values, norms, and roles, as well as managerial and leadership styles, and even the office layout or special perks. Confidentiality agreements, terms of the letters of intent, and time pressure to close often restrict access to employees beyond senior management, making it difficult to assess employee attitudes and beliefs especially in comparison to leadership assertions. So it’s not until the deal is closed and parties are in the INTEGRATION stage that disconnects surface.

Human-centered Risks in Integration

Once the deal has closed, realizing the envisioned financial and operational value relies on a comprehensive integration plan that includes strategies and activities, led by dedicated integration managers, to mitigate risks.  While plans typically address legal, financial, contractual, system and HR transaction risks, human risks are frequently ignored.  These may include:

  • gaps between leadership’s assertions and employee beliefs
  • culture gaps between the acquiring and acquired organizations
  • client dissatisfaction due to disgruntled employees
  • accelerated employee turnover due to failure to engage

A step towards effectively managing these risks starts with understanding the parties’ [SE1] readiness for change itself.

Mitigating Risks by assessing Readiness for Change

To mitigate this risk, we suggest a 360-degree analysis of an organization’s capacity for change. This promotes feedback from all levels of the organization and clearly highlights areas to be addressed.

The Evans Change Readiness Assessment measures the organization’s preparedness for change through the lens of managers, employees, and the change team across four dimensions of Leadership, Culture, Resources, and Conditions. Each dimension is assessed individually to target specific areas to be addressed, such as communicating a clear vision for the future or providing sufficient resources and incentives for employees to forge a unified culture.

Outcome

Since access to employees is typically not possible until the Integration stage, the Change Readiness Assessment is an effective component of a comprehensive communication and change management strategy.  It’s an easy-to-tailor and quick-to-apply tool that uncovers potential human issues that can derail a successful transaction.  Its targeted outcomes ensure that integration resources are directed effectively to mitigate high-priority risks – and improve successful deal outcomes.


Evans CEO in Smart CEO Magazine: Importance of Vision

Evans CEO and founder Sue Evans is featured in the October 2012 issue of SmartCEO magazine and highlights the significance of vision:

“I’m sort of a latecomer to the idea of vision.  It used to make me kind of cringe.  We’ve done a number of employee surveys, and the thing that keeps coming out is that they need to understand what the vision is.  It has to be what characterizes what we are, who we are, and what’s different about us.  I know we need to do that.  The lack of vision has been the missing piece.  It’s what I want to insert in there so we can focus on really defining who we are.  Obviously, the vision changes.  The thing that is most important around it is that we be constantly and consistently communicating it.  We want to make sure that not only our employees but our clients have a sense of what that vision is.  When we’re trying to decide whether to invest in this initiative or that initiative, we have to go back and say, “Is that going to help us reach this goal to transform the consulting model?”

read more here.

Evans Incorporated Wins 2012 Helios Apollo Award

 

Contact:Ana Gross
703 663 2491, agross@evansincorporated.com

Evans Incorporated Named 2012 Apollo Award Winner

Falls Church, VA – May 30, 2012 – Evans Incorporated, a strategy and management consulting firm, announced today that it has been named a winner of the 2012 Helios Apollo Awards. The Apollo Awards recognize employers in the Washington area that promote the top employee development initiatives.

“We are delighted to be name an Apollo Awards winner,” said Sue Evans, President and CEO of Evans Incorporated. “At Evans Incorporated, employee development is integral to our culture of fostering leadership and teamwork to enrich employees, delight clients, and serve our community. We are fortunate to have employees who are passionate about achieving high performing teams. They are the driving force behind many of the award-winning initiatives that define our employee development program.”

“Evans Incorporated illustrates the spirit of the Apollo Awards by investing in their employees and building cultures with intention,” said Kathy Albarado, CEO of Helios. “They truly make an impact on the lives of many and that enthusiasm spills over into serving our community.”

Evans believes that employee development is an essential competitive advantage for us; it ensures that our consultants are skilled in our tested methodologies, best practices and leadership that directly benefit our clients. Among the development initiatives that have direct payoff to us and our clients are our robust onboarding process with clearly defined roles, schedules, and outcomes; our employee-led brownbag knowledge sharing program; a tuition reimbursement program that funds graduate coursework; and leadership development through community outreach programs.

Award program sponsors include Diamond Sponsor: Berenzweig Leonard, VIP Reception Sponsor: Foster, Soltoff & Love, Gold Sponsor: Washington Financial Group, Networking Sponsor: Access National Bank, Silver Sponsor: BBG, and Specialty Sponsors: Red Thinking, Undercover Printer, London Ink, Fairfax Chamber, and WTPF.

About Evans IncorporatedAt Evans Incorporated, our consultants provide strategic advice to organizations facing change. We are passionate about helping leaders create high-performing teams, processes, and cultures that last.

About Helios Apollo Awards This must-attend industry event hosted by Helios HR in partnership with Washington SmartCEO, will honor the leading organizations and the people behind them that promote employee growth and development as an integral part of their organizational culture. To learn more about the Apollo Awards, please visit www.helioshr.com/apollo.

About Helios HRHelios provides custom human capital management consulting, outsourcing and recruiting solutions to attract, retain, develop and engage an organization’s “core” – its people.

# # #