Networking

The Network Credo: “Have you got your Tickets YET?”Presented to the Houston Coatings Society as well as numerous Rotary Clubs by Dr. Lydia M. Frenzel, Past District Govenor of 5190, Rotary Club of Ione, CA.

 

Distribute RAFFLE TICKETS FOR LIFE- why- all organizations are raising funds- they are always selling raffle tickets.

HAVE you GOT your Tickets yet?  There are no refunds on your tickets to your destination in life.

Tonight, I want to share with you  what Rotary and being a member of a service club, means to me and what membership in  SSPC, NACE, the WJTA, and the Houston Coatings Society might mean to you. Rotary is based on sharing vocational experiences and Service Above Self.  At The Houston Coatings Society meetings, you are sharing vocational experiences and volunteering time and service to your profession. You are building a legacy of service unique to your members and the vocations that you follow.  I am delighted to be here with you tonight.

I continue to find parallels between what I do in my business and what I do as a Rotarian. Networking is an overused term, but the concept is vital to your career development.  In particular, I have reeducated myself with respect to the meaning of networking. Networking is my continuous improvement initiative. I want to share with you my most recent thoughts on networking.

My business experience began in the Oil Patch in the Gulf Coast region. I moved from being a chemistry professor in the academic world to the research director of an international petroleum company in southern Louisiana. In those days, in the heart of the Louisiana swamps,  men-only Petroleum Clubs were the places where deals were cut. I quickly learned that  “it is hard to remember the objective is to drain the swamp when you are up to your ass in alligators.”

Breaking into the “good old boy” or “good old girl” circles seemed to be the only effective way to market products and advance my career. I experienced the antagonist’s way of doing business. We were locked in a life and death struggle with purchasing agents, joined in a battle of preferential treatment and corruption, fighting over the big jobs with the major drilling companies.  That is my background- “LET THE BUYER BEWARE” experience.

In 1985, I joined the SSPC, and assumed stewardship of chairing committees and developing consensus language for a very unpopular idea- WJ and WAB.  It was extremely hostile.  I felt that adapting to change, facing increasing environmental regulations, and adopting pollution prevention methods was fundamental to the health and growth of this industry.  There was no network except the EXCLUSIONARY network. In 1987, when I was proposed for charter membership in the Rotary Club of Ione, my experience had led me to believe that Rotarian principles were only higher minded versions of the same kind of influence group principles that served me from the beginning of my business career. Many Rotarians believe this, even after years of service. Today I want to discuss another possibility, one which I hope you will find infinitely more intriguing and useful at every level of your personal and business life.

What I spoke of before, the “good old person” circle was a group banded together for the purpose of exclusion. I’m here- let’s BAR THE GATE BEHIND ME.

I want to talk with you about confederations of people united by the principle of inclusion. I have found  Rotary, NACE, SSPC, WJTA and the Houston Coatings Society are such organizations.  I founded the Advisory Council on this principle. This type of group is known as an influence network. Such networks are increasingly powerful in both profit and nonprofit spheres of interest due to radically new ways in which information flows. People who understand this perceive how the principles of service organizations and trade associations help their business and career endeavors.

I founded the Advisory Council to be an influence network. The Advisory Council is the KEY to the future for contractors. We don’t want people to be left out as the industry changes. The “Rules of the game” are changing.  A rule is like a tax- once it is imposed, the cost goes up! The Advisory Council serves both the paint- SSPC and NACE members- and the water jetting industry- WJTA members- in the capacity of an active product champion in the topic of surface preparation– To create the situation where the coating will perform as expected.

All of the members are competitors.  Yet they recognize that competition does not exclude cooperation.

The computer industry stayed fragmented for a long time between Alpha, Dec, IBM, CDC, Northern, digital Research, and Microsoft, until the software companies got together to promote the adoption of a standard operating system. Today there are thousands of software and hardware companies competing successfully in a market no one dreamed would exist 15 years ago.

The Advisory Council members are willing to sit, shoulder to shoulder in front of an audience when they are all competitors. They have come together to build an industry.  These manufacturers, contractors, and special resource persons look to the future of the industry and the world at large.  Of course, they are sensitive to the bottom line, but they also look to see how the world will work 5, 10, 20, 50 years from now.  They shoulder a higher responsibility.

This is what I feel is happening in NACE, SSPC, the Advisory Council, and the Houston Coatings Society.

Women and men often come to Rotary or the Houston Coating Society because they have become aware of being excluded from the vital affairs of their community or their industry.  New members, sometimes long standing members, need to know that they are moving from a world that practices exclusion to one that holds one principle above all others, and that is “service above self”.   Every time you help someone else, you are helping yourself.

This idea is at the core of an influence network.   As we explore how “service above self” works in the practical world, I hope you will see how this principle will help you to build an influence network which will stretch beyond this room, beyond your immediate community, and perhaps, possibly through the Houston Coatings Society, to include the whole world.

Let me state one more time what networking is not; networking is not banding together for the purpose of exclusion.

Any network includes at least three elements, a supplier of something, a user of something, and a source of influence that determines how things will flow through the network. Every person in this room is both a supplier and a user of something.  The first two elements are familiar to nearly everyone, but the third element-influencing the flow- the one vital to understand, especially in today’s environment, is more difficult to appreciate.

A concrete example may help to set the ground work for your understanding of what problems an influence network specifically addresses.

When I lived in New Orleans, I knew a restaurant owner, Dolores. She often talked about her suppliers, and through her I developed a profile of the successful supplier of restaurants in New Orleans, an exceptionally  tough, competitive town for this business.

There are huge numbers of very fine restaurants in New Orleans. Someone must supply these restaurants. By the definition of competitive advantage, a supplier must have quality products at the lowest possible price and always delivered in a timely fashion. 

But what would a truly superior supplier to the restaurant do? That supplier would realize that an endorsement by a successful and popular restaurant in one part of New Orleans would help them obtain a good account in another section. That would be the influence factor. How could the supplier go about obtaining this valuable endorsement?

First, let me describe how the networking supplier would NOT seek this endorsement. The supplier would not seek to play the favored role by in effect bribing the restaurateur with club memberships or fancy gifts or flattering attention. This would alienate all of the other restaurant owners with whom he seeks good accounts by counting them as second best.

INSTEAD- The networking supplier would eat in the restaurant. The supplier would seek to influence more people to come and try the restaurant. The networking supplier would write articles in local magazines telling everyone how fine the area’s restaurants really are. The networking supplier might seek out a well-known food critic to write about the special character of the food offered in the area’s restaurants.

 Given these factors, whom would you prefer as your supplier? Would you prefer someone who just serves you in the ordinary way, or would you prefer someone who is your advocate, who enhances your revenue, and who shows by their real actions that they have your interests at heart? Not only would you tend to use this superior supplier, but you would be happy to endorse this supplier to others in your affinity group where you have broad influence. The key factor to keep in mind is HOW SERVICE BEYOND IMMEDIATE, PERSONAL GOALS GENERATES THE ENDORSEMENT WHICH  CREATES INFLUENCE. A network maintains influence by seeking positive endorsement of performance.

By genuinely promoting the welfare of those whom you serve and work with, you promote your own welfare and that of the community. This is the parallel between Rotary- a service organization-, the Houston Coatings Society- a professional trade association-, and your own career practices.

continue reading in Networking Part 2

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