Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 21 – the jobs and careers context 20

This is my 21st installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-20.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in Part 14, and that transition period’s day two and following in Part 18. And as part of that continuing discussion, I offered a brief list of to-address topics points that any new hire should at least be aware of as they go through this period of initial employment, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of discussion. While there is a significant amount of overlap in those topic points and how they might be addressed by a new hire, I have at least offered preliminary response to the first three of them as parenthetically noted here:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in (see Part 18.)
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them (see Part 19.)
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected (see Part 20.)
4. Networking for success in the workplace.
5. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement.
6. Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected (and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.)

My goal for this posting is to offer an initial best practices commentary as to how the above Point 4 can be addressed by you as a new hire, that would correspond to what I have offered up to here in Parts 18-20 as you establish yourself in your new place of work and with your new colleagues. And I begin that by repeating a point that I made in Part 20, when addressing Point 3. Your goal here is to find and open doors, and to meet and get to know and get to be known by an effectively wide range of people who you will now be working with. So I write here of proactive networking and proactive initial communications and information sharing, and with a goal of being better prepared for you’re dealing with both your expected and routine, and for you’re being better prepared to deal with what for you is the unexpected too.

Who should you reach out to connect with in this way, in these getting to know you chats? I turn to one of my earliest orienting postings to this blog’s Social Networking and Business directory: Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy, as a starting point for addressing that question.

When you are a new hire and have real need to find your way around your new place of employment, and when you have just as real a need to become a valued and appreciated, and a known member of a new workplace team and a new workplace community, you need to set aside any reservations that you might have about meeting and getting to know strangers. I wrote in my above-cited social networking taxonomy posting about passive networkers and active, openly engaged ones. Active, open networking and networking without a specific goal-oriented or a specific help-requesting agenda can open doors for you here, that taking a reticent, passive networking approach would keep you from ever even learning about.

Who should you meet and greet in this way? And what type of networkers should you at least seek to identify, and make initial conversation starting contact with? I briefly discuss three categorical types of such high priority networking targets in my above-cited taxonomy posting, that you would in most cases find in essentially any business with a larger overall headcount: hub networkers, boundary networkers, and boundaryless networkers. Identifying and meeting these people can become crucially important to your work performance effectiveness and to your overall career path development too, and at whatever job you take, and certainly if you find yourself having to reach out more widely in your business for insight or support. So I repeat here, my initially offered definitional comments as to who they are, at least categorically and by networking style:

• Hub networkers are people who are well known and connected at the hub of specific communities with their own demographics and their ongoing voice and activities.
• Boundary networkers or demographic connectors are people who may or may not be hub networkers but who are actively involved in two or more distinct such communities and who can help people connect across the boundaries separating them to effectively join new communities.
• Boundaryless networkers (sometimes called promiscuous networkers) are people who network far and wide, and without regard to community boundaries per se. These are the people who can seemingly always help you find and connect with someone who has unusual or unique skills, knowledge, experience or perspective and even on the most obscure issues and in the most arcane areas.

The communities that I write of here, are often largely functionally defined and organized according to the business’ table of organization, but they can cut across those expected boundaries in what might be unexpected ways too. Yes, they can include at least a significant share of the people working at that business who hold some particular area of expertise, and might even include most if not all of them who actively socially network with others in the business, and who might actually be willing to actively work with new networking contacts at their business, who are introduced to them by a known hub networker or other widely connected contact. Or alternatively, community here might mean shared geographic locale and cut across work functions per se, where for example a hub networker at an office or other facility located away from the home office, might know seemingly everyone else there and know what they do and are like, interpersonally when dealing with others. Community as that term is used in these special categorically defined social networking participant types, and in what follows here, can be defined in any of a wide range of other ways as well, and can form and gain definition around essentially any significant within-group defining terms that hold significance within the organization as a whole and for the people who work there.

That noted, these communities can also be defined in terms of who does and does not actively communicate with whom. And the key driver to your wanting to identify and meet the more actively engaged and connected networkers at your new place of employment, is that they are the people who would know the widest ranges of people there who you might need to be able to meet and work with, on a collaborative or supporting basis. These are the people who can introduce you to the specific colleagues who you would most need to meet and know at that business, when you need their type of network connecting help.

And remember, that the networking reach that these and other colleagues who you can connect with in this way, goes way beyond simply connecting with and more easily working with specific colleagues in your own place of employment. These special networkers can be fonts of knowledge and insight regarding supply chain partner businesses and the people who you might need to connect with in them too, and at the very least they are the ones who would know who those experts are. And they can be equally knowledgeable about corporate clients and major customers and others: wholesalers and retailers who you might come into contact with, and more too.

These are often people who know a significant amount of the history of this business too, and they are at the very least the people who would know who the real in-depth repositories of such knowledge and insight are, there. Those generally long-standing and even career-long employees are the people there who would best know the background details that you might very well need to know if you are to understand the present that you face in your new job. These repositories of history and background information and insight are the people there at your new workplace who can give you crucial background information and insight that you might very well need if you are to more effectively address any of the longer standing problems that you were in fact hired to address. To take that out of the abstract, and with very real workplace experience in mind as I do so, ask yourself this question when reviewing the core tasks and responsibilities that you were specifically hired to carry out, taking them off of the desk of your now-supervisor in the process. Which of these job description responsibilities have been attempted before by others and without sufficient success to qualify as such? What potential minefield issues do you need to know about for them, if any, that you might not have been in a position to learn about earlier? And to match that question, what resources are, or could be made available to you as you tackle these challenges that others might not have tapped into in their earlier tries?

Up to here I have been writing in this posting progression about preparatory networking and conversations, and without you’re coming across as simply asking for others’ time and effort where that might primarily offer value to you. All of this has been about proactively paving a way for you to better fit in and both as a source of value to others and so that you can have a wider range of resources available when and if you need them for yourself too. I am going to turn to Point 5 of the above list in my next series installment, and the issues of actually tapping into and benefiting from the social networking connections and resources that you need, that this groundwork has at least hopefully made more available to you.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And for relevant background and a systematic discussion of the new hire probationary period as a whole, as organized from day one on, see : Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation, as can also be found at Page 1 of that Guide (as its postings 73-88.)

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