Strengths Based Networking in a Virtual World
In the second episode of our podcast series ‘HR Insights’, our host Emily Ramji discusses strengths based networking in a virtual world with guest Ellie Rich Poole. Ellie is a recruitment coach who helps people find their perfect job. Ellie is someone who values networking and has built her own business from a strong global network. So far she's lived and worked in 4 countries and enjoys building relationships globally, which started with her pen pals back at school and has led to setting up her own business in Singapore.
In this episode Emily and Ellie discuss the topic of networking through two different lenses that are relevant to the world we’re living in right now. One of those being: How to understand and leverage our true strengths when we’re networking and the other: how to approach networking in a virtual environment. This episode was particularly insightful, due to the current circumstances, as we are all having to adapt in ways we never thought we would and this has been prominent for people who are looking to network.
When the word ‘networking’ is used, an image spurs to mind for many of us; attending a big event with large groups of people, feeling very intimidated and overwhelmed to say the least. We usually associate networking in a corporate sense rather than within our personal lives and the network we have around us there. However, we have a network in all aspects of our lives through friendships, family and acquaintances from different chapters. Networking is about building relationships that will ultimately become friendships, these may be within a more professional sense but nonetheless still friendships.
Ellie highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with a network of people who make work more enjoyable and people who you are happy to help and vice versa. A fantastic quote from Ellie is “Don’t sell - make friends”, which can be applied when reaching out to people and trying to connect with them. The great thing about networking is that it can be achieved in so many different and innovative ways, it’s about finding what works for you.
Given our current restraints it can be hard to think outside of the box for unique ways to network. Ellie encourages our listeners to think about different angles of networking beyond stereotypical ones. There are different ways that you can build your brand in genuine ways. At the moment, people need their network, their friends - personal and professional, more than ever before. At a time when people are feeling out of touch with society it's a great time to reach out and drop ‘keep in touch’ messages and do some proactive networking. If you want to connect with people in a more authentic and vulnerable way Ellie suggests Instagram or Facebook. There are a lot of interesting Facebook groups that you can join and network through, Ellie’s own group that she has set up is called ‘The Recruitment Coach’ where she has made many valuable connections. Really experiment across different platforms, and figure out what is right for you in terms of your goals. Be open-minded and drop any preconceptions.
An important approach that Ellie mentions to incorporate into your networking journey is the strengths profile model. There's a number of different traits and for Ellie, her key trait is the ‘relationship deepener’. This is all about deepening existing relationships and being able to connect with people on a personal level in order to get the most out of that relationship. This feeds into the point that Ellie made earlier in the podcast relating to finding ‘what works for you’ and then enjoying it. Ellie becomes energised when she has quality relationships with people, being able to find kindred spirits on a range of different topics and levels enables her to really connect and get a lot more from those relationships. A way that Ellie likes to do this is by sending hand-written messages in the post, it adds a personal touch through a medium not often used now.
Ellie encourages listeners to take that ‘thing’ that you enjoy doing whether that is social media, sending hand written messages, doing Zoom calls, sending WhatsApp voice notes and implementing them into your networking tactics. This is an example of how one can enjoy networking, finding something that you like to do and incorporating it.
The easiest way to identify your strengths is to complete an online strengths profile and there are a number of different companies that offer online quizzes. Ellie’s personal favourite is the Expert Strengths Profile where they break your traits into three groups, these being Energy, Performance and Use. Another useful tip Ellie shares is how to spot your strengths with three simple coaching questions which are:
When time has flown by?
When have you finished the day on a high?
What do your friends come to you for?
By brainstorming all of these answers you should be able to find some common themes that you can draw out your strengths from. It is then up to you to build your network using these strengths.
In this episode Ellie really highlighted the importance and value of networking for an individual or business in any situation. Regardless of your industry or profession it is important to be open to receiving help from others in order to succeed. Being able to network will provide you with a wealth of information that could potentially help you reach your goals. Ellie is someone who has always enjoyed building relationships with people and has successfully done so, in turn helping set up her business. Networking should be seen as a long term investment to any of those willing to give it a try.