In a fast-paced world, being first with the procurement news can mean the difference between being in the know and being left behind.
Read Tania’s first article on the importance of networking and your personal brand here.
Too many procurement professionals spend their careers in closed networks. They stay in the same profession, peer group, company, or industry, associating with people they already know. In these safe, closed networks, it’s easier to get things done because we’ve built up trust, and know all the shorthand terms and unspoken rules. It’s comfortable because the group converges on the same ways of seeing the world that confirm our own.
Life in a closed network is easy. It’s safe. It’s comfortable.
But unfortunately these gentle words are not synonymous with career advancement. If you want to keep growing and get ahead in your career, you need to be challenged, and be a challenger, within your ‘tribe’. You need to be first with the procurement news, be able to quickly digest the information, and interpret what it means for your organisation.
Open or Closed Case
When we were designing Procurious, the team had a lot of heated debates over whether we should have an open or closed network. That is, should it be closed exclusively to highly pre-qualified procurement professionals, or open for the whole world (aka. recruiters, consultants, sales professionals) to join.
Luckily my team convinced me to keep our network open, and it’s been an important part of our success story.
When you become part of an open network, you are exposed to multiple groups. Unlike your peers in closed networks, you gain access to unique relationships, experiences, and knowledge. You get to hear from thought leaders and industry experts, and learn about their diverse opinions on the hot topics in procurement.
As a result of being exposed to thinking outside your ‘tribe’, you gain a more accurate view of the world. In fact, some research shows that people with open networks are better forecasters than people with closed networks.
Leverage Your Networks
While Procurious members may not be the first to hear new information, they can be the first to introduce information to their network. As a result, they can leverage the first mover advantage.
For example, as a member of Procurious you may be the first in your company to become aware of a major supply chain disruption. Although the whole Procurious community is aware of this event, you could be the first person in your company to share the procurement news and start planning your response.
What’s more, you could use your network to gain further information on the disruption, and leverage their expertise to help solve the problem. You will be amazed how the community responds with alternate suppliers, solutions, on the ground contacts! In our Discussions section you will see there has already been hundreds of questions asked, and thousands of answers provided by procurement professionals all around the globe.
Let’s face it – procurement issues are now global business issues. The nature and complexity of procurement and supply chain challenges mean that they are too big for one person alone to solve.
To come up with the best ideas we need many, diverse perspectives. By involving more views, life and career experiences, demographics, and cultures, we can access these perspectives. Through our Procurious network, we increase the pool of talent and therefore ideas that are working to solve problems. Let’s call it collective problem-solving.
If our procurement network on Procurious gets into the habit of collective problem solving by supporting each other by sharing the procurement news, and with information and advice, it will soon become an instant reaction – a community reflex. And if we keep repeating that action, then we will build community muscle.
So when bad things happen, or when we’re looking for solutions to big problems, we turn first towards thinking that we’re going to solve it in a community way, through our network!
Apparently there are more than 3,500,000 procurement professionals in the world. But there are probably less than 500,000 who we can readily identify.
Many procurement professionals are working in isolation, unaware that there is a whole universe of knowledge and professionals available, to help them do their jobs better and learn more effectively.
There are so many problems we can solve together, so much we can do to promote our own careers and the profession – if only we use the power of connection and leverage our network – there is very little that we can’t achieve!
This blog is part of a speech Tania made at the eWorld Procurement and Supply Conference in London on 2 March 2016. Stay tuned for further insights from Tania and the Procurious team from eWorld.