Wright Foundation | August 27, 2015

What is Mission-Driven Networking?

Mission-driven communication is key to leveraging relationships, building leadership skills and networking. How many of us feel lost when trying to network at work? Maybe you have a cubicle in a corner and you feel like you’re never going to move up the ladder. Maybe you continuously feel passed over by management in conversations and at board meetings.

John Davidoff of Davidoff Mission-Driven Business Strategy has extensive experience with assisting businesses with their branding, identity and authenticity to their mission. Davidoff holds to the philosophy that all members of a company should be mission-drivers. Understanding the mission and vision of your company or organization and how it aligns with your personal mission and identity can help build your communication skills and ensure you’re being heard in all aspects of your life.


Find Like-Minded People

Align yourself with those who are like-minded and who share your values. As you find those people within your organization and beyond, use these commonalities to connect. You may be surprised just how small the world really is.

When you attend the classic “networking event,” approach it from a different standpoint. Rather than trying to work the room, instead try to find people who you can really connect with. Truly listen to people and find out what values you share, which people you both know, and what experiences you might have in common. Even discussing challenges that you face within your organization can be a way to open the door to further insight and truth.

Often organizations and companies see others who share their mission as competition. (With limited markets and funding these days, who wouldn’t?) But finding commonalities in your missions and ways that you can interact with each other can give both of you a boost.


Using Your Mission to Connect Your Team

Starting off your meetings with a reiteration of your mission can help keep all of your employees focused on the end-goal. Not only that, but teams will find energy and a renewed sense of purpose by revisiting the “why” of what you do. From a sales team to a board of directors, keeping interactions purpose-driven will give your team a deeper sense of meaning and momentum.

As our world has changed, so has our view of work. We know now that we need to be more transformative to meet the changing needs of the marketplace and our target population. We need to understand those that we are interacting with and add a personal touch and connection. We need to find our center. That purpose-driven action will drive customers towards us and set us apart from the competition.

Every employee should be clear on your mission. It should be the focus of how you hire, who you train (and who you “liberate” to find somewhere more in line with their own mission). It should be the driving force behind your interactions with clients. Help your clients find new ways to fulfill their own organizational missions and they will know that you truly understand and connect with them.


Leveraging Your Own Connections

So what happens if you feel like you’re on the bottom rung of the ladder? Or what do you do when you’re overlooked in other aspects of your life? Aligning your personal mission and goals with your actions helps ensure you keep every interaction focused and satisfying.

Building on your leadership skills and finding your voice will help you. You should be open to any opportunities to interact with those in roles above yours—this might mean volunteering for the next company charity event or even inquiring if a successful colleague or LinkedIn connection would be willing to meet with you for coffee or lunch to discuss your own goals and advise you on what has worked for them.

Find ways to get yourself on the radar of key people in your company. It might be as simple as offering to help set up for a meeting or volunteering to stay late to help with a big project. Consider other professional development groups and opportunities as well. Many businesses understand the importance of employee networking and communication and are more than willing to facilitate an eager team member looking to enhance their skills.

Other groups like a lunch club, book club, toastmasters or social groups can also help you build connections with coworkers and those in your field. It’s all about finding commonalities—and these “extracurricular” activities give you the opportunity to do just that.


Keep All Interactions Authentic

Maybe there’s someone you just aren’t clicking with. Maybe you’re shy or maybe your office or group has some under-discussed conflict that needs to be sorted out before you can really connect and be open to getting to know each other.

Oftentimes what seems to be negativity and just plain old “griping” can actually have a nugget of truth and spur major conversations and positive change. If the focus on the mission remains the organizational goal, then constructive conflict can offer growth.

If you feel there’s someone you haven’t been able to get along with or there’s someone you just don’t quite understand, first make sure you’re acting in accordance with your own values and personal mission. Then muster up your courage and address the issue directly with the person and find a way to move forward.

Keeping your eye on the prize (aka your mission) and keeping your interactions in line with your values will keep you networking and connecting with others like a pro. After all, it IS a very small world and each person offers us a little something more. Find the value in each interaction and you’ll be amazed at the connections you can make.



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