Is your networking, working?

Although our head office is in the UK, Sage ERP X3 (as a global product) is part of an international community that collaborates on product development, with an international team to aid global product deployment and after sales support through shared knowledge, skills and resources.

Our global conference

This month the Sage France team played host the Sage ERP X3 Global Sales conference, inviting over 500 Sage ERP X3 staff and business partners from 17 countries around the world over to Paris, making it the largest Sage ERP X3 event held to date. This event is billed as a conference, but the underlying raison d’être (picking up the lingo already!) is networking.

A networking natural?

Now, some people thrive in a ‘networking environment’ – effortlessly floating between colleagues old and new, picking up business cards and drinks like this event is their single purpose in life. Managing to juggle nibbles, a glass of champagne and picking their next victim in one easy swoop.

Other people find networking awkward and unnatural, struggling with the notion of polite ‘chit-chat’ and are just not comfortable working a room. Networking takes a lot of effort and a certain degree of practice, and we have all been guilty of standing in the corner with our colleagues rather than meeting new people.Social network in a course

But does networking, really work?

Business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions – either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites.

Social media has, in part, taken away the personal aspect of day-to-day networking, and enables us to meet contacts at a distance, but surely online networking can’t replace the value that face to face contact brings? And one would assume that the quality of relationships would be diminished through the lack of the human contact and rapport building.

Social networking can bring us closer to people and communities that we would never have the opportunity to meet in the ‘real world’ but in actuality it  doesn’t replace a face-to-face conversation, but more acts as a soft introduction.

Working for a larger business, with a wider social ecosystem the need to network face to face becomes more necessary. The key here is identifying the reason, or a goal for being at the networking event and stick to it – do you want to meet your counterpart from a similar organisation? Track down the supplier that messed up your order? Or perhaps find new job opportunities?

Networking can bring us better deals, higher value service, invites to more social events and new Linkedin contacts, but in my opinion the most important thing it brings us is trust. Trust that our colleagues, suppliers, partners are on the same path as us and are looking to achieve a common goal.

Julia Commons, Sage ERP X3 team