Supply Chain Leadership Series Ep 8: Developing Internal and External Networks

By Published On: December 15, 2022

Host: Chris Gaffney

Co-Hosts: Mike Ogle and Rodney Apple

In this Episode:

We discuss how to advance your career by Building Your Internal and External Networks. In addition to providing tips about how to build your networks, this episode discusses tactics on time management, and how to involve your supervisors, your teams, your industry contacts, and even your personal networks. Learn how to properly cultivate and feed your network. Easily overlooked is your responsibility and the role you play as a leader to help ensure that your team members increase the reach of their respective networks . Filling team slots with known high performers becomes easier as you tap into the team’s collective networks. Using what you learn in this episode will translate into much greater career success and satisfaction. You’ll be able to more easily navigate challenges with an optimized network that makes you more aware of those challenges and potential solution resources.

Listen to this Episode!

What is the Supply Chain Careers Leadership Series?

The Supply Chain Careers Leadership series expands its previous content format into a more in-depth focus on leadership development. This program is a series of 10+ episodes that are hosted by our very own supply chain executive, Chris Gaffney. These episodes explore subject matter and topics that relate to excelling as a leader in the business world, much of which Chris has gleaned as VP of Supply Chain at Coca-Cola. Familiar faces and fellow supply chain leaders, Rodney Apple and Mike Ogle chime in with their experience and knowledge, all of which can be used by supply chain leaders to develop and advance their careers.

[00:00:58] Rodney Apple: Welcome back to the Supply Chain Careers podcast. This is your leadership series featuring Chris Gaffney as your host. I am Rodney Apple, co-host, along with Mike Ogle. Today we’re gonna get into an exciting episode that’s gonna encompass how to build your network both from an internal perspective as well as external.

Quick recap, this is episode eight. We have covered seven previous episodes. If you want to go back and take a listen, The first was avoiding the regrettable career move. The second was work life balance, total leadership across four quadrants. We covered blind spots and how to overcome them, how to enhance your personal productivity, the importance of collaboration both internally and externally. What to do if you’re stuck in a rut at work. And how to build confidence along with the imposter syndrome was our most recent episode. So, thanks for joining us today. Uh, we’re looking forward to getting started.

[00:02:03] Mike Ogle: And Chris, for this eighth episode, how does networking fit into the leadership series at this point?

[00:02:09] Chris Gaffney: I always remind folks that we’ve kind of set up four larger themes for the series, and as a reminder for folks, the first one is how to work effectively and create the time and space for development. The second one is how to differentiate yourself in the workplace. The third one is, how do I grow? And the fourth one is, where am I headed in building a career path? So, I think our topic for today, in terms of building your network is both a differentiator and an enabler for how you grow. So, I think we’re really hitting on two of the themes in our first topic today.

And as I reflected on this one, I was reminded of a couple simple things. I started my career at Frito Lay and after a good time there, it was time to move. And I got my second job at a small company in Atlanta. And I got that job through the Georgia Tech Alumni Recruiting Network, so part of an external network. And then after a very great career learning international logistics at AJC, I had my boss from Frito, who had moved on to another career. He heard about a job at Coca-Cola, and he called me and he said, Chris, this job sounds like a job that would be perfect for you. So, literally got my second and third job as a result of networks.

So that kind of sets me on the stage. When I joined Coke in 1995, Coke had a very formal onboarding and training program, and it’s unbelievable to hear, but my boss basically said, I’m gonna protect you from the demands of day to day work for your first 90 days. It just doesn’t happen anymore, but he did that and we had a structured curriculum of all the ways to learn at the time, Coca-Cola’s fountain business. And so, he programmed my weeks, got to go on trips to plants, see customers, et cetera, et cetera. But what my boss did, and his name is Nick Fong, and I’m still in contact with Nick. He took it to an extra step, and what he did over the course of that 90 days is he interspersed in my calendar introductions to all of his key contacts within Coca-Cola. So, coming into a very large multinational corporation, not knowing a soul. At the end of 90 days, I had met some 20 or 30 people, and those people only took the time to meet with me because of Nick, but what I found over the course of the next few years is that these names came in handy. I would either run into these people in a meeting or on a project, or I would be asked a question about another function like sales or marketing. But I had people I could pick up the phone and call and I’d say, remember when Nick introduced me to you? I need a hand on something. And essentially that “remember me?”, was a huge accelerator to, to my career success at Coke. So, I think that that’s my biggest motivator for this one. So, Mike and Rodney, I’d love to compare notes with you and your experiences on, on this topic.

[00:05:30] Mike Ogle: Chris, it’s great to be able to do this. My career personally really didn’t take off until I started doing some really serious networking. It was very internal at first to make sure I was meeting people with different perspectives and influences and people that I had handoffs to that influenced my work. Some peers to some extent. But then when I really started going to meetings and conferences and events with external people, I really found out that all those broader perspectives exposed me to understand a whole lot more of what was going on in the industry and areas that I became interested in, that I didn’t even have any idea that I was really interested in, or found out there was a connection to something that I was already doing. It was invaluable. And then when I worked for the first time in a supply chain trade association for about 15 years, which by the way, I only ended up getting that position because I was at an event with other people striking up conversations that turned into somebody observing me and saying, I like the way that you’re thinking about how you work with some of the other people here, and started talking with me about the position that I ended up getting for those 15 years. But that particular position was like a networking experience on steroids. There was so much personal growth during that period, I had the advantage to get involved in all kinds of conversations and introductions and connections that people started depending on me and recommending me as a resource.

So that whole network effect was such an incredible change to what I was able to do and the way that I talked with people and approached the whole process. So much so that it really became one of those things that I started looking around me, and saying, Hey, look at a couple of these people that aren’t engaged, and getting them, reaching out to them and getting them involved in conversations and introductions and then all of a sudden you saw them blossom from meeting to meeting and year to year.

So, I see networking as one of the greatest ways to be able to grow your own career, grow your own interest areas, and then of course becoming a more effective leader as you become the introducer.

[00:07:43] Rodney Apple: Well, and from my perspective being on the talent acquisition, recruiting, executive search side of supply chain, for most of my career, even back to my first job too. That’s how I got it. It was through a fraternity brother had graduated one year ahead of me, I was looking for a role, they were hiring, went down to Atlanta, got the job. That happens to a lot of people though. You lean on your networks and you should. And that’s really what we’re gonna talk about today is, how to build and how to leverage, networks. It’s all about giving, receiving. And then, the backbone of what we do in recruiting is heavy networking and building relationships, that’s where it all starts. You’ve got to do the networking to build the right relationships, but if you don’t put yourself out there to get those bats and those repetitions, you’re not gonna get those, those lucky meetings that come along where somebody is a big person or has a big decision maker, can make or break your next move.

It could be a deal, it could be a job, a promotion internally. So, it’s critical. I know a lot of folks can’t stand it. You hear that from introverts, but networking can be easy. Doing it online is an easier place to start, such as through LinkedIn and then open up some conversations. Obviously, we talked about events. We’re gonna get into the how and where, we’re gonna get into the benefits today. So, I’m looking forward to this, but yeah, it’s critical for success in your career. I would argue, the old saying, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It rings true. It’s a hundred percent true. So, the earlier you do this in your career, and you make it part of your day to day routine, week to week routine, the better network you’re gonna have. So, looking forward to get going on this one, Chris and Mike.

[00:09:26] Chris Gaffney: So, Mike and Rodney, we could be the outliers and our stories could be very unique. But as I was doing research to prep for this episode, I came across a quote and it was pretty compelling and it speaks to what we said, but it’s based on research and it said, according to multiple peer reviewed studies, networking is the top predictor of career success. And it happens that the source of the quote came from an article written by a guy named Rodney Apple. So, in your earlier days, Rodney, you latched onto this topic, but do you wanna kind of jump in and comment on what you saw in that research, was the lead in to this topic for you?

[00:10:14] Rodney Apple: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I did write an article, uh, this was back in my time as, uh, volunteering for APICS, now A S C M, Association for Supply Chain Management, serving as their career coach for about seven years, responsible for developing professional development-oriented content for their member base. And of course, did a webinar and put together a corresponding white paper on, on networking.

And as I was doing my own research, I came across okay, it’s one thing for me to tell you it’s important, but let’s see if there’s any data that supports the importance. Right? And so, I found a fascinating article, and if anyone’s interested, feel free to reach out. I’ll be happy to send the article. It’s a Forbes article, highlighting some network science study. There’s a professor by the name of Ronald Burt out of University of Chicago. His academic life has been devoted to studying network science. I didn’t even know there was such a thing to study, but, a lot of it is business networking. And that’s where I got the kind of the supporting data from. And there was a fascinating chart, with your x and y axis where, on one side you’ve got performance, in the form of promotions, evaluations, reviews, compensation, and then you’ve got your network constraints. So those with small, closed networks where you, let’s say, hang out with the exact same people time and time again, versus those with large open networks where you’re kind of linking people to people, circles to circles, groups to groups, their success was a lot higher versus those with small networks and there were some supporting data and it was just fascinating. It was kind of like the smoking gun that I had been looking for, cuz I know the importance. I can speak to it, cuz that’s what I do for a living. This was a fascinating research and you can go out and check this guy out if you just Google University of Chicago, Ronald Burt, he’s got a lot of studies on his own website. So, I would encourage folks to check it out, so that’s where I got that source from Chris and it is very powerful to see these studies.

[00:12:27] Chris Gaffney: Yep. And I think is, we’ve talked about, yeah, I got a job because of that, and that’s the fact. But I think there’s so many different benefits from networking. It’s not just a nice thing to do, it’s not a merit badge. I think it’s very practical. And so, I’ll give you a couple thoughts from my perspective and then maybe we could jump back into the article. I have found through my career that my ability to get things done is materially better because I can tap into other people’s knowledge. I can literally pick up the phone when I’ve got a topic that’s something that’s outside of my core competency, but I can pick up a phone and talk to a guy who’s a former CFO and say, I’ve got a question about how to deal with this project and its implications on the balance sheet. Somebody will tell me that. I can talk to new technology. I pick up to one of my buddies who’s in the material handling industry. And people will give you that help that just clears your path and allows you to keep moving on whatever accountability you have. So, I think it has a very direct impact on your ability to deliver results.

[BREAK at 13:30] [00:13:57] Chris Gaffney: I think perspective is so much of how we solve problems, and I think the general theme of networking is the more open your network, the broader your perspective. That means you can approach problems in a different way. You can empathize with other people you deal with. So, in a big corporation like Coke, having that network helped me understand how the sales people felt when they had to get in front of a customer and say the supply chain hasn’t been able to deliver. I knew the pain they felt. So, when we went back in, we were working on our part of it and we said we’ve gotta fix this. The flip side of that is interacting with suppliers. We knew how they felt because we were the internal customer. We could say, now we’re the person who’s making the supplier feel bad cuz they’re not able to deliver. We could empathize. So that perspective really was a big driver. I think we both mentioned it, all three of us mentioned it. Exposure. People find out who you are. If you’re sitting by yourself with your small circle of friends, no one can ever find out who you are. But if you’re out there, they may ultimately say, this guy, Mike Ogle, keeps showing up to all these meetings. He pitches in and helps and he asks good questions. We may need a guy like that. That stuff is real. That happens. So I think for me, those are the things that are tangible. And one of the other things that I think is super important is companies, universities, organizations can become insular. And if you can bring an external perspective from another industry and say, Hey, I was at a meeting, or I was at a plant tour, or I was at a conference and I heard this same topic discussed in a completely different industry, and here’s what they said, you’re bringing in information that can help your own organization avoid that risk of being closed in and being limiting in their thinking. So, just some observations from my perspective. Again, I’d love Mike and Rodney for you guys to pile onto that.

[00:15:54] Rodney Apple: Yeah, Chris, I touched on it earlier, but it’s the backbone of what we do and our success. I’ll kind of touch on that because I think it’s important in today’s climate where everybody, every company is struggling to find supply chain talent, whether it’s on the front line and your factories and distribution facilities to executive talent. It’s all over the board. It’s a fascinating place to build a career. And that’s why we talk so much about it because there’s a lot of impact that can be made from networking. People do it to impact their career, meet new people. I think a big mistake though that we should talk about is people, they turn off the networking. It should be something that you should continuously do because there’s so many benefits that can be yielded from it beyond the obvious of trying to find a new job. And then folks will turn it back on or they’ll start networking when they’re out of work. And if you think about it, if you had already been networking and established network and simply staying on people’s radar screens, your job search is gonna accelerate from the time you’re out of work or you want to be with a new company. It’s just gonna accelerate that entire effort.

And if you think about, yes, recruiters, that’s what we do for a living. But if you just think about your, let’s say you’re hiring manager and you know you’re struggling, and if you’ve got people you can lean on. A lot of what we do, it’s our number one channel for recruitment. Sure. LinkedIn’s out there, we can find anybody. But when I get a search, my first thing I’m doing is basically looking through the people that I know and calling them, I know this individual over here is gonna have a referral. They’re gonna know somebody that does this work. So, if you can get into that, you can build a high performing team. It’s always a great source of referrals. And, you know, employee referral programs kind of lean on that. It’s a formal way to source candidates for jobs and get a little referral bonus.

So, this is the same thing. So, just having that mentality can be very powerful. You don’t have to be in recruiting, but if you’re in hiring, and the further you go up the chain into the executive ranks, your impact is gonna be determined by how well you can field a team. You’ve gotta get the right people before you can be thinking about developing them and moving into the right spots on the bus. It’s imperative as you move up to have that network, both from an exposure, like you mentioned, Chris, getting discovered by other companies. People know who you are in the supply chain community to building those teams. So that’s my 2 cents.

[00:18:29] Mike Ogle: The only 2 cents that I have to throw in there is just recognizing over time as you get deeper and deeper into supply chain and you keep going, well, I thought this was a smaller industry, but you start to get into the breadth of it and the people that are in sourcing, the people that are in the manufacturing side, the people in more logistics and transportation. And then there’s even specialties within each of these areas that get deeper and deeper and so many different players that you discover that are in there. And it’s interesting. I like seeing how that breadth of the industry is there, but you start to realize how much you don’t know and how much you have to rely on others and their ideas to influence your own. But it’s not that you’re gonna become an expert in all those areas cuz you just can’t.

Being able to do the networking and being able to be seen as somebody who is open to collaborating and contributing and not necessarily having to have an immediate reward for getting involved with you somehow. You get that kind of reputation and it leads to more opportunities. You become a trusted sounding board. You find other trusted sounding boards to work with.

That whole care and feeding of your network goes back to when we talk about the mentoring side of things as well. If you don’t do the care and feeding of the network pieces that you’ve established and keep adding new pieces to it, then your networking effect starts to die off a little bit as time goes by.

[00:19:59] Chris Gaffney: So, I think both of your themes start to address my view of some of the principles of how you make this work. And so, Rodney, your comment really gets to the constancy of it. This is something that is a lifelong investment and it can be either consistent or counter to your personality. So, for some people it comes naturally. Some people, it will be an ongoing, intentional effort that goes against their grain.

But I think what we’re making the case for is it has compelling benefits. So, I think number one is that constancy. I think, Mike, the point that you made, and maybe it’s a bit unique about the field of supply chain, is it is by definition a networked element of society and commerce. We have customers and suppliers. We have customer’s customers and supplier’s suppliers. And within each of those, we have multiple functions, but it’s inherently a series of relationships. And yes, that can start to look like a network. So, I think it’s very unique, and has some special value for folks in the field of supply chain.

But for me, some additional principles that I think are really important. You can do this from a cold call standpoint, but it’s so much easier if you can get an intro. And so, I think in many cases, my networks have been developed by a person introduced me to one more person, okay. And so, on and so on. And Rodney, you know that works that way in recruiting. Mike, I suspect that works that way in academia for working on research. Talked to a professor who did some of that research. I’m in the same field. He said, here’s another guy who’s done a similar piece of work. And you ultimately may find either an opportunity for collaboration or an uncovered topic that, that you can delve into in your research. So, getting that introduction is important.

I think the second piece that’s important for me, Day one, it’s a two-way street. Okay. If you are interested in building your network, by definition, you need to be supportive in helping other people build theirs. Just to your point, Mike, then the network builds in all directions. So, I think the care and feeding idea is important. It’s gotta be a two-way street in terms of helping others, but also if you’re interested in gaining knowledge or information from someone, you gotta bring something to the table. It can’t just be, Hey, Mr. Senior person, I need to get in front of you because I need you to help me.

If you want that to be a sustaining relationship, you’ve gotta bring something to it. And I saw early in my career when I was a junior person, one of the things I could offer more senior folks was, here’s the view from the cheap seats. Here’s what the younger employees on your team are saying. Here’s what they’re dealing with. This may help you in guiding and leading them. The flip side is, as I got into leadership positions, I wanted to talk to more junior frontline folks. Cuz I wanted to say, if I want the best people on my team, what are your peers looking for? So, I could make sure that was something that factored into the culture I was trying to develop, et cetera.

So, it’s gotta be a two-way street. I do think if there is a junior, senior element to it, in terms of the relationship, my experience has been the junior person’s gotta drive the dialogue. In most cases the senior person is busier, so there’s a bit more burden on the junior person if you’re trying to get that engine started, you gotta bring the gas to it continually. Over time, that may not be the case, but you gotta be comfortable with that. A little more of that investment has gotta be on your side of the fence.

And the last thing I think, is it does require intent and time and effort because it’s typically a long play. The first introduction may not provide the golden nugget. But if you maintain constancy with folks, and I’ve got folks I network with today who I’ve talked to for 10 or 20 years, and the big value might be many years out, but that’s been both a positive or negative when I’ve been in a bind, I’ve had folks who I helped over time because they needed my input and I never expected anything from ’em. But some point down the road I got in a bind, and lo and behold, those people were critical resources for me.

[00:24:20] Rodney Apple: A lot of people, I would say the wrong assumptions on networking, that it has to be tied to my job. So they start thinking immediately, go to the a Supply Chain association event. And while that’s not wrong, you’re gonna find a bunch of like-minded people, there’s plenty of other avenues out there, that probably things you do every day. If you’re going to church, for example, you’re gonna meet people.

So, you have to be thinking about it very broadly. A lot of people seek out volunteer opportunities. So where can I volunteer? And even at the associations, they all have local chapters. So, volunteering is a great way to get out and meet people. You just never know who you’re gonna meet that might even be in your profession or company you wanna work for. Doesn’t have to be in supply chain.

Tapping into the existing network, though, I think that’s a great place to start. Who am I connected with? And you need to be thinking about, what are your goals? Everybody’s got different purposes. Sometimes you need help with development of yourself and your skills. Other times we talked about looking for a job, that’s the obvious one. If you’re in sales or on the commercial side of the business, you need to be out in front of customers. So, tapping into who do I know now and can I leverage, these individuals to facilitate introductions.

And get out there on LinkedIn. We’ll talk about LinkedIn in a minute, but go search people that you know, your alma mater. Go see where they’re at and see what companies that they’re at in your own backyard. So, bottom line to sum this up, be openminded. You’ve got the obvious, associations that tie into your work. We all know who they are. You definitely wanna check that box, but think about it more broadly. With your local communities, volunteering and so forth.

[00:26:03] Chris Gaffney: I think those are great, Rodney. One addition, every city’s got a Chamber of Commerce and increasingly they’ve got a supply chain element to that. Chambers of Commerce are typically focused on bringing in jobs. Supply chain companies typically bring in jobs and they’re always reasonably thinly staffed. So, if they’ve got the Chamber of Commerce supply chain committee, they usually need a hand. And if you’re an introvert and you’re not gonna show up and glad hand everybody, being at the table, helping set up gets you a little bit of that easier access. So I think you’re right on there. So, as we start talking about then how to tactically do this, what are the tips, if you’re doing this from an in-person standpoint, Mike, what are your tactics that you use when you’re gonna be in networking mode?

[00:26:53] Mike Ogle: Well, I think it’s understanding who’s supposed to be there, what are the motivations that they’re there for, and do a little research and try to understand the other players that are going to be around. Cause if you’re going to be valuable to others, rather than being surprised at the moment when you start up a conversation with somebody and not knowing anything about them, which is never a great start, but you already may have asked others, hey, by the way, I see that you’ve worked with so and so. You look at a piece of your network or you get an introduction to somebody who understands what this kind of initiative is about, for instance, that you’re going to be involved in. So, when I start getting in network mode at a conference or an event, it takes some pre-planning, to be able to understand. And even if it’s just a local, internal meeting, a company, type of thing around the office and you’re trying to understand, well, what are the motivations? What’s going on? Who’s going to be involved? Are they bringing somebody in? What should I know about this? Cuz that’s also part of the care and feeding about your network. Even just going around and asking those who you already know, and trying to get some thoughts about what you can bring to the meeting.

And also, don’t just hang around those people that you do already know. You’ve already got that set. Work the room a little bit, which is one of those skills being, I’d say more introvert than extrovert throughout my life, I had to learn how to get into that kind of mode of learning how to work the room and starting up those conversations and interactions and not trying to impress the other person with your knowledge and saying, love me and get involved with me. It’s, uh, well, what about you? What do you do? And start getting into some of their passions, not just work-related stuff, but that’ll come along with the conversation. There’s so many different kinds of techniques when you’re trying to be on the networking side that I had to just start getting involved in it and making mistakes at times to be able to learn what I wanted to do.

And I’d say one of the other aspects is rather than just kind of hanging around in a corner somewhere, trying to think about how you might get involved, if you listen to other conversations, you pick up the ideas of, Hey, there’s no way I’m gonna act like that when I’m trying to network, or the, Wow, that was really a good technique and the way that I heard them do their conversation. So sometimes it’s simply being a little bit of a fly on the wall can be very helpful, but if you’re going to practice it and practice it and practice it, you get better and better.

[00:29:33] Chris Gaffney: I think you hit it right on the head, Mike. This is not an easy pool for lots of people to swim in, but the only way it gets easier is by diving into it there. So, Rodney, other thoughts that you have in terms of your tactics in these kind of settings?

[00:29:47] Rodney Apple: Yeah, I like to look at the speakers that are gonna be at the event, if there’s anybody in particular that I wanna meet. And then at those associations, the trade associations, they’re gonna get into a whole bunch of functional and process and technical things and strategies and whatnot. So, you know if you’re going to like an S&OP session, you know you’re gonna probably be surrounded by people that either work on that particular type of advanced enterprise planning, connects a lot of different functions, or those that are just interested in it.

So that’s a natural thing you can talk about or focus your efforts on cuz you can’t be at every session with multiple sessions going on at once, right? I think it’s important to think about, preparation is key. Practice makes perfect, but you have to put yourself out there. And don’t, people are nervous about striking up conversations, but you have to think everyone is there for the same reason.

They’re there to learn and meet. Other people. So just have to believe and try to have confidence in your approach. Uh, look them in the eyes. Smile, you know, why are you here? What brought you to the event? What are you most interested in? What are you hoping to get out of this? Along the obvious, where do you work? What do you do? Be an active listener. Don’t try to do all the talking or over. This is so annoying when you get to the people that are just passing out as many business cards as they possibly can, and all they do is talk about themselves. Don’t be that guy, right? Be asking good questions and listening and having a positive dialogue. And if it’s somebody you feel like is gonna be beneficial to have in your network, obviously hand over the business card, ask for their card, connect on LinkedIn, and then after these events, that’s where the important execution occurs.

You can’t just go out and meet people and then don’t follow up. So, you may have to be the one that follows up. And so, I like to get back from these and just kind of go through the business cards. I’ll look up folks on LinkedIn and just put a task list together and reach out, connect. So nice to meet you. Enjoy talking about X, Y, Z. Know what your wheelhouse is, what kind of value you can deliver and offer that up in exchange. And that’s what starts setting that relationship in motion. But if you don’t get back and do anything, the more time that goes by, people are gonna completely forget about you and unless you happen to run into them randomly at a future event.

You want to set up reminders on your calendar. That’s super important just to stay in touch and don’t reach out to say, Hey, how are, I’m just checking in for the sake of checking in. Try to have something of value that you could offer back up to that person every time. Could be an article, something that they’ve expressed interest in, things like that.

[00:32:23] Chris Gaffney: The reality of online networking today is LinkedIn, right? It is the primary medium for online connections in today’s world. They got there first and they’ve been methodical and they’ve done it well. It’s not perfect. But it’s effective. So, I guess I would ask you all is, what is your advice in terms of leveraging LinkedIn to enable some of these online connections and relationships?

[00:32:51] Rodney Apple: Yeah, I think before you start, always important whether it’s going to an event or in this case, you wanna start building out a network, you have to understand, what is my personal mission and goals? What is the objectives? You don’t want to just go out and haphazardly start clicking and inviting people randomly. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Right. So be thinking about your goals. What are you trying to close maybe in terms of gaps or opportunities that you’re trying to seize? Whether you’re in sales or just could be problem solving, could be obviously the job search. So, you have to kind of think about it and put a little bit of a plan together before you take action, but once you set the goals, it’s then doing the research, right? And we talked about maybe where to start is the low hanging fruit people. Who am I already connected to? It could be your colleagues, former colleagues. So set the goals, get everything organized, have an action plan, and then from there, when you do reach out, I think it’s important.

Speaking of starting, I just thought of something I forgot that LinkedIn makes it really easy to identify your immediate connection. So, if you use Outlook or some kind of CRM, um, if you’ve got email addresses, cuz to have a LinkedIn account, you have to have an email address. LinkedIn lets you upload all of your contacts and then it will search their entire database and it’ll show a list of people that you already know. And it could be from prior jobs, current jobs, again, family members, it’s whoever you have in your sort of Rolodex, if you will. But when it comes to connecting with new people, I think it’s very important when you do reach out and connect on LinkedIn, you send the invitation, personalize those. It doesn’t have to be a long book, but look at something that stands out in their background. Is there anything we have in common? Is there anything that they may have posted or shared in terms of content?

Make it personalized. And here’s who I am, why I’m looking to connect, and here’s how I can help people. So those three things, quick introduction. This is why I’m reaching out and this is how I could potentially help you. If you can do those three things, you’re gonna get a lot of people accepting and then you can try to take it from there, so those are some of the big ones. Obviously sharing content is how you can become more discoverable. That can be in the form of articles that relate to supply chain. It could be breaking news, it could be if you’re a writer, and you’ve got your own thoughts and perspectives, put your own 2 cents out there, your own stamp in LinkedIn, that’s a great way to share your own perspectives.

So those are some easy ways to start that process. And always just have a goal in mind as you go from individual to individual and know how you can help and express that. And that’s how you get that symbiotic mutually beneficial relationship seed planted, and then you can harvest it from there.

[00:35:41] Mike Ogle: And the two thoughts from my viewpoint is one, one of my favorite things to end up getting into is my first level contacts in LinkedIn. And you can see who their contacts are and being able to dive into that and come up with some new ideas. Cuz the next time that you connect with that person or it prompts you to go back to this person that’s a first level contact, this whole care and feeding of the network, and you ask, Hey, by the way, I see you’re connected to so and so and I’m doing this project, or I’ve got this going on, or, what’s been your experience and interaction with this person and their industry? And I had no idea that you may, you also had this interest. So, it provides an easy way to be able to have that interaction.

And something else that’s more of a personal thing that I adopted almost from the beginning with LinkedIn was when somebody wants to connect with me, I don’t end up making that connection unless we’ve met at a conference, we’ve had some kind of interaction. We were in meetings together. We’ve been on the phone before. So, what I’ll do if somebody just does a, essentially a cold call type of link, I won’t accept. I’ll say, let’s have a call, let’s talk. Or you, are we gonna be somewhere together where we can talk. So, every one of those LinkedIn contacts that I end up having has had some type of interaction before the connection ends up being made.

[00:37:08] Rodney Apple: Well this has been good stuff guys. As we wrap up here, Chris would love to know what you have planned for our next episode.

[00:37:15] Chris Gaffney: Yeah, we will kind of dive further into the actual focus on development planning. A topic I like to call adult learning and a strategy for folks who are super busy who say, I never have time for my own professional development, how do I get it done? And so, I think you and I, Rodney, are familiar with a strategy called 70 20 10 that really helps you with weaving in intentional development plan into your everyday work. So, I think that’ll be a very instructive session for folks. So, looking forward to it.

[00:37:46] Rodney Apple: Very good, Chris. We’re looking forward to it as well. So, thank you audience and listeners. We really do appreciate it. If you enjoyed this podcast, you think of somebody that might could benefit, that needs some help with networking, feel free to share them with your friends and colleagues, and we would love it if you could drop us a positive rating on your favorite, or your primary podcast platform as well. So, thanks again everyone, and we’ll see you next time around.


Who is Chris Gaffney?

  • Principal at ECG providing Supply Chain Services to the CPG Industry
  • 25 Years w/ Coca-Cola holding Supply Chain leadership roles:
    • VP of Global Strategic Supply Chain
    • President of Global Supply
    • SVP of Product Supply Systems
    • VP of Logistics for North America