(Guest post by Larry Fox, SVP International Board Member and Partner, SVP Portland)
The International SVP Network: What is its current relevance? What makes networking valuable? What do we need to do to realize its potential? SVP International Board Member Larry Fox reflects on the potential value of networking internationally, even regionally, after meeting SVP India Partners during his recent visit to India.
Clearly and unsurprisingly there is in India (and I suspect broadly across the globe) very little real sense of affiliation to the global SVP network. Apart from the excellent and dedicated “start up” assistance and some sharing of tips, tricks, and techniques at the conferences and conference calls, the global network has little relevance to local affiliates.
When asked “What could make it more effective”, by and large we came up with the “usual suspects”: knowing which affiliates are doing what; sharing best methods (and tips and tricks); learning from common goals and approaches; the ability to leverage expertise among partners worldwide; connecting to even broader networks.
But the real challenge for networking keeps coming back to motivation– actually taking advantage of these resources and possibilities. We talked about the fact that the network is more than a bunch of nodes and lines and information banks. It is people and their ability and willingness to connect and relate to one another. That will only come about as people in the network get into the habit of connecting (phone calls, conferences, meeting around issues held in common etc.). We discussed the notion that the current SVPI seems less a real network than a hub and spoke model, with initiative and communication coming largely to and from the central office. It feels more manufactured than organic.
The notion of turning the SVPI network from a “noun” to an “action verb” seemed to resonate. A vibrant network is an active network, with free flowing and multi directional peer communication. In a sense, the network itself has the potential of becoming a staff resource for the entire network. We just need to get into the habit of using it. The current initiatives on knowledge management are a bright sign and will encourage this, but it will take a “behavior breakthrough” to prime the pump to actually put that information to use.
Also, our discussions made clear that the habit of networking can start first at the local level, with partners actually getting familiar with each other’s respective capabilities and experience. The Mumbai team had some interesting thoughts on this on how to make this happen.
At the global level, we also discussed the possibilities of sub networks around similar focus areas and strategies. These might be regional, social issue focused, shared innovative experiments or strategies. There is potential for the conferences to leverage this idea and to work more flexibly around issue groups and problem solving groups.