A stalwart for change at the entry-level of industry Cheryl-Anne Sanderson says reframing networking could create new value for those fearful of the process. “You should actually want to do it,” she explains to Deputy Editor Mark Glover. But how do we go about such a shift?
We often hear how important it is to network, yet we often come up with reasons why not to: too formal; operation deadlines, time pressures. However, according to one member of last year’s FSN20, there is another way. “All the above in my view is just a myth or a perception,” says Cheryl-Anne Sanderson, Regional Director at Churchill Group.
“More often than not, there is time to do it you and you just need to make it happen. Networking shouldn’t be a have to do, you should actually want to do it. If you’re passionate about your industry and you want to do the right thing, not just for yourself but for the next generation of service leaders, then why wouldn’t you do it?”
A Passion for Leadership in Field Service
Readers will be aware of Sanderson’s passionate attitude when it comes to leadership development and the nurturing of young talent through the initial stages of their career. Networking, she tells me, should be reframed and viewed differently so the environment nurtures a collaborative atmosphere, creating value for the networker.
“If you feel you need to change or adapt to the environment,” she says, “then change the scenery and surround yourself with a network who appreciate the version of you; who want to share your passion and drive; and want to work with you in a collaborative manner.”
On way to do this, she suggests, is to encourage inter-industry collaboration:
“So while these [own sectors] networks are instrumental and essential to our industries, don’t be put off by creating your own personal network; local to the businesses that you serve. You could even cross network across sectors - networking doesn’t need to be the same people from the same industry - the magic happens when you bring creative minds from a diverse range of businesses together.”
Sanderson is now a Regional Director at Facilities Management outfit Churchill Services, having spent over seven years at G4S in Operations.
"We all deserve time away from the job and while networking could be seen as personal, the majority of the time, the firms we represent also get the benefit of our appearance, so just be aware of this..."
She says her new role is allowing her to conduct work in a more entrepreneurial way, being more creative in her big-picture thinking, such as mentoring and guiding young people, something she thoroughly believes in. Core to this belief is a focus on well-being, that work (and networking) should be important but it should not be everything.
“Don’t let the day-to-day of business as usual take over your life,” she says. “We all deserve time away from the job and while networking could be seen as personal, the majority of the time, the firms we represent also get the benefit of our appearance, so just be aware of this.”
However, she says if approached correctly networking (or should it be called something else?) can enhance your self-esteem by sharing challenges with like-minded peers.
“Networking is also great for our own wellbeing. Sharing experiences and hearing people stories, knowing that the challenges you face are faced by others too can be really affirming.”
You can also collect great idea and tips that motivate you to do more; that makes you do your best; and you can share with your own team spreading the positivity amongst your colleagues.” If you haven’t listened to Sanderson’s recent podcast for Field Service News, I’d urge you to download them. You quickly grasp her passion for change when it comes to bringing in a new generation of service professionals.
Her voice comes at a time when the sector is struggling to fill an employment gap created by many retiring and few coming in.
Finally, I ask her to sum-up her thoughts in a sentence on the new way of networking: “I’d like to say sharing is caring. Networking within your industry is just another way of sharing, and most importantly,” she pauses, “caring”
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