Top 10 Tips for Effective Networking

Networks have a purpose; could be any of the following – share information, learn and grow, or benefit life, either personal or professional. With the advent of the internet and social media there are various options for networking. Successful networking empowers an individual and opens up opportunities never imagined. Below are some tips on effective networking.

10. Make time to network constantly; not only when you need something. Invest the time and effort if you want to see results.
9. Before you ask for something, offer something of value to the other person. Keep your word and follow through on commitments. Remember to thank someone for their help.
8. Attend networking events related to your profession/area of expertise. Never under-estimate the power of meeting in person to build relationships.
7. Cultivate your network by being visible. Online networking sites have made this more accessible.
6. Be honest and authentic; don’t hesitate to show your vulnerabilities. We all have them.
5. Share content that reflects your mastery and skills that also benefits the recipient.
4. Ask genuine questions to learn; listen, explore and enquire. Use this information to make connections in your circle to help others. Add value by becoming an information exchange.
3. Your reputation matters; work on building and maintaining it. Earn the trust and goodwill of your relationships.
2. Be crystal clear of your purpose, goal, plan, outcome, and evaluation criteria for networking. Assess your progress and make changes if required.
1. Continuously work your connections. While you add new ones, nurture and strengthen your existing ones.

Remember “Anything that is of value in life only multiplies when given” – Deepak Chopra

Reading Reference: The start up of you by Reid Hoffman http://www.slideshare.net/reidhoffman/startup-of-you-visual-summary
Masters of Networking by Ivan R. Misner and Don Morgan

Which Financial Metric is right for your project?

While evaluating initiatives/projects, it is important to evaluate the financial impact of the investment. There are numerous financial metrics out there. Here are some of the common ones used. It is recommended to take into account the time value of money metrics.

ROI (Return on investment) – While comparing two or more investments using this method, consider the risk. The higher the risk the higher the expected return. Benefits can come from reduction of costs, increase in profits or additional value.
Calculation: (Total cost of the investment – Total benefits) / Total cost of investment
Note – Its use is limited. It ignores the time value of money.

Payback Period – How long will it take for an investment to pay for itself?
Calculation: Total amount of investment/annual savings expected
Note – Its use is limited. It ignores the time value of money.

Break Even Analysis – How many units one needs to sell in order to break even with the fixed cost cash investment?
Calculation: Breakeven volume = Fixed Cost/Unit Contribution Margin
Unit Contribution Margin = Net unit revenue – variable costs per unit
Note – Its use is limited. It ignores the time value of money.

Economic value added – It is used to evaluate investments and operational business performance.
Calculation: Net Operating Profits after Taxes – (Capital Used x Cost of Capital)
Note – It analyzes the cost of capital in investment decisions.

NPV (Net Present Value) – It is the value today of a future stream of cash flows discounted at some annual compound interest rate (or discount rate). It is a more sound decision making tool as long as the assumptions utilized in the analysis are relevant.
Note – Use a financial calculator. NPV is a more accurate value of an investment opportunity. It takes into consideration the time value of money.

IRR (Internal Rate of Return) – It is the discount rate at which the NPV of an investment equals zero. If the IRR is greater than the opportunity cost of capital required the investment is a good one. The opportunity cost is the expected return on a comparable investment. Again, assumptions used in the analysis should be pertinent.
Note –This method is preferred as it takes into account the time value of money.

Reading Reference: Finance for Managers – Harvard Business Essentials
Financial Intelligence by Karen Berman and Joe Knight, Harvard Business School Press

10 Critical Success Factors for Programs/Projects

Majority of programs/projects don’t meet the expectations of the business case/plan or the expectations of the Project Sponsors. Why is that? Here are the top 10 reasons. Pay close attention to these and your chances of success will go up.

1. Planning – Invest the time to plan the project charter, statement of work, business case, and stakeholder management strategy.
2. Budgeting and Cost Management – Ensure that the organization has the ability to provide the required resources (people and money) for the objectives stated in the project charter. Financial oversight for the duration of the project is key to ensure resources are available as planned and needed.
3. Team skills and HR Management – Partnership with HR is required to ensure the planning and availability of the right skills for the initiative.
4. Sponsor/stakeholder alignment and engagement – Executive sponsorship and engagement enables the focus of the organization on the initiative and helps to remove barriers.
5. Change Management – For the success of a project, this is key and is often overlooked due to the lack of time or resources. A comprehensive communications/training strategy, plan and execution is critical to ensure that those impacted have bought in for adoption.
6. Time Management/Project tracking – Phases in the project lifecycle have their own schedule managed and reported by the leader to a central PMO (for large programs) who monitors the end to end view of the initiative. This ensures all dependencies are adequately planned with no disruptions to the schedule.
7. Quality Management – This is applicable for every stage of the project and deliverable. Ensure there is close attention to quality that meets expectations.
8. Scope Management – During the project, new or changes to requirements that were originally overlooked tend to be raised. Manage them with a Change Control Board or an equivalent governance structure such that it does not derail the focus and momentum of the initiative.
9. Risk Management – Ensure that risks are raised and mitigated during the lifecycle. Depending on the severity and impact, they should be raised to the Sponsors/Steering Committee.
10. Monitoring and control – A PMO or project manager facilitates governance and control during the lifecycle for all deliverables and schedules.

Reading Reference : A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI Institute)

Want to jump start innovation and creative thinking in your organization?

Every organization should continuously innovate or else it will perish. Here are some tips and techniques to get the innovative thought process going and stimulating creativity. The key is to stay focused on the customer’s pain points and the “key moments of truth” that “delight” a customer. It outlines the various approaches to innovation that should be in the DNA of every organization. The Mind Mapping tool can be used as a brainstorming tool to collect ideas.

Link : http://www.slideshare.net/raoanita/foster-innovation-22566718

Reference Reading: Inspiring and Executing Innovation by Harvard Business Review

Want to “continuously” improve operations with process leadership ?

This slide deck provides a summary of the famous “Toyota Way” and process framework for continuous improvement. It can be used in any industry not specifically manufacturing where it originated with the “Toyota Production System”.
In any business function, a thoughtful process driven approach can be used for continuous improvement of operations. It can highlight and reduce “non value added” tasks to improve efficiency. The problem solving approach using “PDCA” or “Plan, Do, Check, Adjust” is an evergreen tool.
Enjoy!

Link: http://www.slideshare.net/raoanita/toyota-way-22521286

Reference Reading: The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement by Jeffrey K. Liker and James K. Franz
Toyota Culture by Jeffrey K. Liker and Michael Hoseus
The Toyota Way by Jeffrey K. Liker
The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership by Jeffrey K. Liker and Gary L. Convis

Is your organization struggling to make decisions and get ahead?

This slide deck will guide business leaders on how to make as well as facilitate sound, quick decisions. Lack of making decisions impacts the progress of teams and hence productivity. We take this for granted but will be surprised to learn how many resources are wasted due to a lack of speedy, sound decisions.
The approaches encourage healthy discussion/debate to ensure all options are reviewed and the final decision is sound based on fact. It includes a couple of tools and a framework.

Link : http://www.slideshare.net/raoanita/making-decisions-22566501

Reference Reading: The Encyclopedia of Leadership by Murray Hiebert & Bruce Klatt

Are you effectively facilitating for outcomes?

We spend so much time interacting with colleagues but not enough progress is made to get to specific business outcomes. Learn how to facilitate meetings, workshops, brainstorming sessions to drive to specific outcomes. Use the tools, approaches suggested. Improvise for your situation/environment. There is no substitute for good preparation before and follow up after. Be effective, efficient and use resources wisely.
For mature facilitators, recommend the “Work Out” technique.

Link : http://www.slideshare.net/raoanita/facilitationfor-outcomes-22567103

Reference Reading : Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
The Encyclopedia of Leadership by Murray Hiebert & Bruce Klatt
The GE Workout by Dave Ulrich, Steve Kerr and Ron Ashkenas