Tag Archives: networking

How To Skyrocket Your Influence In 2 Steps

Step away from the emoji button. Read on to learn how to build genuine influence in your personal brand. Learn to move beyond the micro engagements of liking and sharing. Be bold and brave – expand your connections and network by following our pro tips.


Mirror mirror on the wall

While browsing idly through social media recently I concluded that many of my peers have confused visibility with influence. Procurement is a small industry especially if you’re in a niche field or a small country. What makes this contracted market even smaller is that we stare into our own reflection. 

Seek to expand not reinforce the bubble 

Commenting, liking, gaining followers and profiling only those within your bubble only serves to reinforce the echo chamber that you reside in. Expansion and growth should be the aim of the game and that’s the trick that many are missing!

Number of likes and connections is not influence

All the chat about the importance of “raising your profile” has seen many people reach for the emoji button. They equate visibility and these micro engagements with achieving influence. I’ve even heard some peers brag about it “mate did you see my pic? Got 12 likes, brilliant ay? I’m raising my profile and building influence.” Um no, but I’m glad people liked your photo.

Sure, visibility will get your name out there and you’ll make connections but just like the platforms we use in our personal life, professional networking sites can create a trap for the uninitiated. They offer so much more than just how many followers you have!

Untapped potential

Think about how you engage online, do you make the most of all opportunities?

  • Chance to connect with and observe thought leaders
  • Expand your learning beyond your sector and follow other industry trends
  • Grow your knowledge of different areas within your technical field
  • Expand your support base by utlising online connections
  • Taking part in free webinars

Check out these tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your Procurious experience!

Fear stops meaningful engagement and expansion

Platforms where personal profiles are created on a “work self” image can fuel the fire if people view their professional / work self as separate to their “real life” self. On professional networking sites people can struggle to make genuine comments, challenge / ask questions or engage meaingfully for fear of looking dumb or speaking out of turn.

It’s such a lost opportunity! Don’t be afraid to be yourself, engage and connect with people.

What is influence and why care?

Influence is earned and grows over time. The difference between visibility and influence is that with a focus on your sphere of influence and who you engage with, you are building longevity and sustainability into your personal brand and therefore your career. You are thinking beyond your immediate role or even career.

There are many studies out there that have shown that people will change their careers significantly two or three times over the course of their lives, as described in this NY Times article.

How to get started

Hold up, I hear you… how on earth and am I meant to do that?

Start the same way everyone else does but don’t limit your professional networking to just likes, commenting and growing your connections. Keep your eye on the bigger prize.

Step one: getting started

  1. Join an accredited membership organisation like CIPS or IACCM. There are usually many ways to get involved and connect with lots of people through these avenues. This provides a supportive environment to get involved in chairing committees and speaking / hosting events.
  1. Awards. Keep an eye out for industry awards, nominate your team or yourself! I’ve seen some surprise winners – the only thing that set them apart from others was that they simply backed themselves and applied.
  1. Network. Don’t simply add just people on social media, if you do send an invitation add a note and make sure it’s relevant to something they just posted or wrote about. Think of people in your industry, can you reach out to any of them for a coffee chat? And then ask, who else do you think might be of value for me to connect with?
  1. Content. Remember the dictionary definition of influence: “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.” what content are you producing or contributing to that is building impact?

Step two: grow

Use your network of genuine connections to try and find ways to get involved in different projects and start expanding your reach.

  • Offer to mentor someone
  • Offer to host an event at your organisation
  • Ask for speaking opportunities
  • Write your own blog on an existing platform or your own profile
  • Connect with people through the content you’re consuming e.g procurious webinars and groups!
  • Ask to shadow a senior for a day to learn what they do
  • Talk to your suppliers and learn the other side of the fence
  • Learn from other sectors and follow other thought leaders for inspiration
  • Find someone you admire and see if you can unpick what makes them tick. You can check out Kelly Barner’s journey for some inspo
  • Think about yourself as a brand, what do you want to be known for?

Take the plunge! Expand your connections beyond micro engagements and you will add sustainability and longevity to your personal brand. 

Remember: be yourself, be humble and be authentic.

Picture source: www.brenebrown.com

What Is CIPS And How To Get Accredited

Procurement, like many other professions, has made huge strides in supporting and providing accreditation to the many professionals that make up its membership.

So, the big questions are what is CIPS? How do I get accredited? And how could becoming chartered help turn the tide on global ethics?

Let jump right into it…


What is CIPS?

Originally the Purchasing Officers’ Association, it wasn’t until 1992 that the Association was granted a Royal Charter to become the Chartered Institute of Procurement (Purchasing) and Supply (CIPS) that we know today.

With a membership of over 200,000 professionals globally, the Institute is putting the profession on the front foot when it comes to providing accreditation for its members.

What does CIPS mean to us?

CIPS is seen as the voice of the procurement profession, a champion of the profession globally, led by current CIPS CEO Malcolm Harrison, while still retaining local roots in its many national associations and member-led branches.

The benefits of being a CIPS member are considerable. From connections to a network of over 200,000 global professionals, in as many varied industries and sectors as you can think of, to a constantly updating knowledge hub, with everything from the basics of procurement, right up to specialist subject areas. And that’s not to mention the webinars, podcasts and YouTube channel.

The core of the CIPS offering for procurement and supply chain professionals is in the professional accreditation that the organisation offers and supports.

Who can become a CIPS member?

The designation of MCIPS represents the gold standard for procurement professionals and is an internationally recognised award that brings the individual holder a number of benefits.

The qualifications are open to anyone working in the procurement and supply chain profession, taking them from Studying Members all the way to MCIPS, and potentially even a fellowship (FCIPS) for the senior advocates of the profession.

Will having CIPS accreditation advance my career?

In recent years, CIPS has brought its qualifications in line with other professional bodies and offers its members a chance to become chartered through its programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Joining CIPS and taking a full part in its activities as a member is no small investment, and the qualifications should not be undertaken lightly.

But, as a fully paid up member of the procurement profession, why wouldn’t you want to invest in your career and your future in this way?

As with other qualifications, achieving MCIPS does provide benefits to individuals.

Many global businesses see CIPS qualifications as the minimum standard for their procurement teams.

Due to the regard in which they are held, and the trust of the standard that they produce, many employers choose to support their staff by funding their studies.

You may not need MCIPS to work in procurement and supply chain, but having the qualification allows current and prospective employers to see that you have applicable training in your arsenal.

The annual CIPS/Hays Salary Survey and Guide helps to highlight just how important these qualifications can be. In 2020, 64 per cent of survey respondents stated that they requested MCIPS or studying towards it as a requirement for people applying for jobs with them.

It’s not only going to help you get through the door either. Professionals with MCIPS earn, on average, 17 per cent more than peers without the qualifications.

And at a time where the expertise of procurement and supply chain professionals is becoming more widely sought, having these qualifications could be the key to unlocking the full potential of your future career.

CIPS Chartership & the ethics exam

One of the key elements that CIPS has brought in along with its accreditation and, now, chartership, is its Ethics exam for individual members.

Any member, from student all the way up to FCIPS, is required to take the exam annually in order to keep their qualifications and membership up to date. The eLearning test covers the three key pillars of the ethical procurement and supply:

  • Environmental Procurement
  • Human Rights
  • Fraud, Bribery and Corruptions

The test is free for all members and can be purchased by non-members too. This works alongside the CIPS Code of Ethics, which organisations can sign up to as a public commitment to proper work practices in the field of procurement.

Over the past few years there have been several high-profile global events linked to poor ethical procurement practices.

At a time where global supply chains, and by association procurement, are in the spotlight, having a widely agreed and signed Code of Ethics, backed up by an annual ethics exam for individuals is crucial.

Supporting the ethical agenda is something all procurement and supply chain professionals should be doing.

Accreditation and Chartership provide the foundation for developing a profession that operates within these bounds and is something that should be an expectation for all professionals in the coming years.

Play your part and take the first steps on your chartership journey by joining CIPS today.

How To Get Ahead While Working From Home

Putting yourself out there is more difficult in a Work From Home environment, but by maintaining a strong social media presence, expanding your network online, volunteering your ideas and services and harvesting good feedback regarding your work, your presence and value can be felt beyond the WFH setting.


It’s a truth of working life that it’s not enough to be good at your job to get ahead. You also need “exposure”, to be able to network both inside and outside your organisation, and to be visible to those dishing out the stretch assignments and opportunities.

With many of us now working from home much more regularly and for the foreseeable future (in the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland recently informed staff that they would be working from home until 2021), how can you ‘be seen’ when you haven’t seen anyone outside of a Zoom call for months? Without your boss’s boss dropping by your desk for a quick chat, how can you let them know that you’ve been smashing it?

Here are some tips to consider if you want to get ahead while working from home…

Be visible

As working from home becomes more normalised (rather than the ‘trying to work from home during a pandemic’ that we’ve all been experiencing to date), think about how you can remain visible to those that matter. This doesn’t mean ‘digital presenteeism’ (hello, sending 11pm emails…) but rather keeping yourself on people’s radar. Be sure to speak up in meetings and Q&A sessions. Continue to post on your organisation’s internal and external social media channels. Keeping your head down and getting the job done won’t get you ahead.

Network

Just because we can’t see each other in person, doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time on strengthening and growing your networks. Attend those relationship-building virtual drinks with colleagues – or why not set up your own? Connect with those whose opinions you value and who you can learn from over a virtual coffee. Give public kudos and praise to your co-workers (when deserved of course). If you’re serious about your progression, why not seek out a mentor? You can develop a mentoring relationship just as successfully virtually as you can in person. If you think you want to move on soon, develop relationships with recruiters and headhunters, and keep those relationships alive even if you are not looking to move soon.

Keep a record of your success

Procurement and supply professionals have been doing some stellar work during the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure you keep a record of your successes and positive feedback from colleagues, suppliers, clients and other stakeholders. Doing so serves several purposes. It can help you build a case for internally promotion, pay rises and progression. It can help you quickly update your CV when you decide it’s time to move on. And – not to be overlooked – it can help boost your self-confidence if you’re having a bad day or feeling wobbly before an important meeting.

Put yourself forward

If you don’t ask for something, you don’t get it. If there are internal opportunities, such as getting involved with special projects, stretch assignments or joining high potential development programmes, don’t wait to be asked to join. This is particularly important for home workers who otherwise might be overlooked for opportunities. Make sure you keep your ear to the ground so you hear about these opportunities when they arise. And don’t be afraid to create your own. We are heading into a period of immense global disruption. It’s scary, but it also creates opportunity. If you have an innovative idea, pitch it to your boss. What’s the worst that could happen?

Of course, while there are career management strategies individuals can try, this is a bigger issue that relies so much on company culture. Organisations need to be alert to the risk of ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups developing, discriminating against those with caring responsibilities, most likely to be women, or health conditions that prevent them heading back to the office.

Leaders need to carefully consider how to manage career progression in an age of remote working and managers need to learn how to manage by outcomes rather than presenteeism (digital or otherwise). Think about issues like running inclusive hybrid meetings: does it make more sense for everyone to dial in separately if even one person isn’t there in person? Can you invest in technology (like ‘The Meeting Owl’) to create a more inclusive and frictionless meeting experience for everyone, whether they are in the room or not?

When it comes to getting ahead remotely, perhaps the most powerful thing you could do is to take the initiative in suggesting new and more inclusive ways of working. The pandemic has proven that for many roles, where you do them has little to do with impact or productivity. We all now need to play a part in ensuring that isn’t forgotten as we move into the ‘new normal’.

What do you think? Comment below!

My Number One Procurement Career Tip – Be Connected

As you move forward with your career, remember it is not just about the number of connections you have – it is about the quality of your connections. As the old adage goes “ it is about who you know, rather than what you know”.


As the majority of us spend more time working from home in the “new normal” way of working, being connected is more important than ever.

Be connected with your peers from a cross section of industries

Being connected to your peers, not from just your industry but across sectors, is a great way to learn both current and future best practice. You can discuss key topics of the day and benchmark your procurement and supply chain maturity, both as an individual and as an organisation.

I have learnt so much from being a member of The Faculty Roundtable (whilst I lived in Australia) and the Procurious Roundtable (now that I am back in the UK). Not only through the top drawer guest speakers that come and share their knowledge, but through the connections I have made from being a member.

Making the time to attend these events is always a stretch, but the benefits massively outweigh the time required to catch up at work.

Investing the time to listen to the challenges and opportunities that others face, and discussing these in an open forum with your peers, can be truly enlightening. When you have had the fortune to share ideas with the likes of Paul Menzies, Len Blackmore, Naomi Lloyd, Andrew Ordish and Matthew Kay in Sydney or Matt Beddoe, Phil English, Bruce Morrison, Lauren Ferry, Chris Eccleston and Ross Mandiwall in London (or virtually), you know the power of a strong peer network. Learning from professionals with extensive experience in a vast array of industries provides a diversity of thought that helps you improve as a person and enhances your strategic thinking and knowledge.

Be connected and highly engaged with your own team

With an ever-increasing myriad of stakeholders to manage, it is imperative that you create enough time to manage your own team. Whether face to face, by Teams, Skype or Zoom, I try and create enough time for team meetings, one to ones and other connection opportunities.

Building great relationships with your team helps you to build a great team ethos, with everyone pulling in the same direction with no room for mavericks or terrorists. I always remember someone telling me that you need to spend 30% of your time with your people, listening, encouraging and developing them. And they were right.

Also remember it is important to connect with not only your direct reports. Over the last couple of years we have introduced a Procurement Development Group at Murphy. It enables the up-and-coming procurement team members to work on some key topics set by the procurement leadership team. The Procurement Development Group presents their recommendations to the senior team, giving them exposure to people they don’t often come into contact with. This opportunity has been really appreciated by our future leaders and can lead to accelerated career progression. Their work has produced some fantastic results for our organisation – so it has been a win–win for everyone involved.

Be a Mentor and Be Mentored

Mentoring, or being mentored, is another great way of keeping connected. I am big believer that having the right mentor can help with your career progression. Each of the key members of my team are either mentored by a Senior Director at Murphy or by a leading CPO, arranged by Procurious, from an external organisation – and the feedback I receive on this is so positive!

I enjoy mentoring people. I get as much out of the sessions as the mentees. It is great to get different views, hear other’s perspectives and see their careers flourish.

Never be too intimidated to ask someone to mentor you. After all, what is the worst they can say? “No”? And if they say yes, remember that it is you – the mentee – who needs to drive the relationship. As with everything, you only get out what you put in. 

Be connected – inside work and out

With the COVID-imposed increased isolation, we are all faced with the challenge of ensuring we are both physically and mentally healthy. A great way of taking your mind off the job is by doing something outside work that you really enjoy and involves interaction with others.

We all need to give something back to society. It provides such fulfilment. So whether it is charitable work or sport, get connected externally and make a difference.

My great passion, in addition to my family, is rugby. It has given me so many amazing experiences and memories over the years.  When I was asked to become Chairman at the Club I played at for 20 years, there was only one answer!

I am now in my second season. This opportunity has given me a host of new challenges and learning experiences, which I am thoroughly enjoying. It has also afforded me the chance to meet and work with some more amazing people, keeping me ever more connected.     

And finally…

As you move forward with your career, remember it is not just about the number of connections you have: it is about the quality of your connections. As the old adage goes “it is about who you know, rather than what you know”.

It is much more important to maximise the value you get from a few, quality connections and making sure you deliver value to your connections.

Join the Roundtable in the UK by contacting Helen Mackenzie at [email protected] or in Australia by contacting Sally Lansbury at [email protected]

Virtually Connected: How To Network Your Face Off

Online networking can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Approach it with generosity, and watch your network grow.


Picture yourself at a business networking event – the room buzzing with people. Where would we find you?

Are you working the room, having interesting conversations? Or maybe you’re lurking in the corner, hoping people will come to you.

In any case, there won’t be in-person events for a while – which means it’s time to step up your virtual networking.

You’ve probably heard the phrase: “Your network determines your net worth.” The right people can have a huge influence on your future.

But a great network won’t just come to you. So if you’re a digital wallflower, it’s time to leave the corner and join the party. 

Build your personal brand

The best way to build a strong network is being helpful.

If you post useful, interesting information, you can positively influence the way you’re perceived.

To put it another way, it allows you to build your personal brand. 

But what does that actually mean? Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is credited with saying: “Personal branding is the story people tell about you when you’re not in the room.”

Why is it important to build your personal brand? In short, future opportunities, says Andy Moore, Digital Marketing Manager at Procurious.

“Social media has become a staple in society,” Moore says. “And in the world of getting hired, having an online profile has become essential in the last few years.  

“So it’s important for professionals to first understand the ‘why’ of building their personal brand – it can help with future connections and can generate better leads.”

Get involved

But where do you start, especially if you haven’t done much networking online?

It’s as easy as posting an article you find interesting. Or sharing your opinion on an industry hot topic. Or asking your network’s opinions.

The important thing is to show up consistently and make a contribution, Moore adds.

“People want to hang out with the ‘life of the party,’” says Moore. “This is the same for social media. People want to be connected with those who have a voice and get involved.”

That includes liking, sharing, and commenting on other people’s posts. Everyone loves a bit of validation, and your network will appreciate your support.

Keep in mind that a strong digital network won’t happen overnight, especially if you don’t have much of an online presence right now.

Like any other relationship, networks require consistency over time.

But it’s worth the effort, says Mark Holyoake, Managing Director of supply chain recruitment firm Holyoake Search.

“I’ve long been a proponent of personal branding,” Holyoake says. “Technology has made this easier than ever, and with conferences and networking opportunities still all virtual for the time being, it has never been more important.”

You get what you put in

Your success at building your online network will largely depend on your attitude.

After all, few things kill a relationship quicker than self-centredness. So don’t view your network as a group of people who only exist to get you a job.

Instead, approach them as a worthwhile group of your colleagues and peers. What would they like to know from you? What is interesting to them? What can you share that will make their lives better or easier?

Likewise, think of people in your network that you could introduce to each other, knowing that both will benefit from the connection.

There are lots of ways to add value to your network.

Where to network

There are plenty of social platforms to choose from. Where should you invest your time? The simple answer is where your professional associations hang out. 

And you don’t need to be on every platform. Why put time into building an Instagram profile when your network spends all their time on LinkedIn?

You should also join and contribute to online groups that are specific to your professional interests.

Procurious is a great example of this, where you can find groups dedicated to any aspect of procurement.

CPOs in Scotland, supply chain sustainability, and Indian procurement professionals – you name it. And don’t worry if you can’t find your tribe. Just start your own group! 

There are 40,000 procurement professionals from all over the world on Procurious, and they want to build their networks too.

So get involved in the groups and the discussion boards. You’ve got answers and experience that people are looking for right now.

For example, can you help out this Procurious member? They want advice on getting internal stakeholders to bring procurement in earlier during the IT purchasing process.

Who knows where your connections could lead? If you come ready to give, you’ll be surprised how much you receive over time.

You can do this

It doesn’t matter if you usually lurk in the corner at networking events. Or if the word ‘networking’ makes you break out in hives.

You were built to network.

That’s because you’re already a natural at creating partnerships across supply chains and stakeholders, says Tania Seary, Founder of Procurious.

“Procurement professionals are united by the need to be agile, to be savvy, to be bold,” Seary says. “We can do that alone, but we can do it even better by reaching out to colleagues and contacts to fill the gaps.”

Networking is about watering the seeds of possibility, nurturing existing relationships, and growing the best you can from each encounter, Seary adds.

Need more encouragement? Check out Tania Seary’s two-minute pep talk on networking in procurement

Is It Time To Retire The Office Drinks Trolley?

While after-work drinks used to be a staple of office life, new drinking trends, sobriety challenges and negative effects on mental and physical health have highlighted alternatives that better promote team building and could spell the end to “work drinks” trends.


As pubs and bars in the UK reopen their doors and many businesses head back into the office, many people will be thrilled to be finally meeting colleagues and friends for a post-lockdown drink. However, there has been a distinct change in drinking habits during quarantine, while 57% of Brits are consuming alcohol as normal, 17% say they’ve been drinking more, and 25% are actively cutting down on their alcohol consumption, according to YouGov data.

During lockdown, the government recognised mental health implications caused by the pandemic and the media helped to raise awareness and provide resources to support the public during this time. However, the ongoing impact of alcohol consumption on mental health is nothing new and is rarely addressed, even as research showed that consumption patterns changed during lockdown. As the workplace evolves with new ways of working and environments where people socialise change in response to public safety concerns, will after-work drinks become a thing of the past? We explore the relationship between alcohol and the workplace and how perhaps the pandemic has served as the catalyst for changing the way we work and help us to discover alternative ways of expressing ourselves and connecting with others.

Cocktail Culture

There is no doubt that the media’s glamourisation of alcohol, especially amongst women, has helped to normalise more frequent and heavier drinking of alcohol in work environments, at the Friday afternoon drinks trolley or ‘swift-half’ after work. Post-work drinks have been assimilated as a way to wind down after a stressful day for decades and used as a reason to build personal bonds with coworkers – even used as means to get ahead in the workplace. More formal industry events are often held on the assumption that everyone will be networking with a drink in their hand. This drinking culture not only alienates non-drinkers, but it also has a variety of negative effects on our health, both mental and physical. 

Mind & Body

In addition to the well-publicised physical health issues caused by continued alcohol consumption, such as liver disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure, there are a host of mental health issues that alcohol can also contribute to. Approximately one-third of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse also suffer from mental ill-health, and the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related behavioural disorders has risen in the last 10 years by 94% for those aged 15-59, and by 150% for people over 60. 

Alcohol is a depressant, disrupting our thoughts, wellbeing and actions in the short term, and causing long term mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and OCD. When alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for stress or as a social lubricant, it often has an adverse effect. Studies have continually linked alcohol abuse and addiction to violence, domestic incidents, and suicide, making it one of the biggest killers globally.

COVID-19 Impact 

According to pre-pandemic research by the Economic Research Council, the risk of ‘problem drinking’ is heightened when individuals are working in conditions such as: isolated away from friends and family, with extended working hours, in dangerous environments, and when we’re at risk from organisational change such as restructure or redundancy. This list makes it clear why alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 crisis. Sarah Hughes, the chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said ‘Those employers that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole.’

Generational Attitudes

Many people recognised the negative effects of alcohol on wellbeing long before lockdown, and this is particularly apparent in millennials (or those born between 1981-1996). According to a 2019 report, 56% of millennials consider themselves ‘mindful drinkers’ compared to only 37% of baby boomers. This has been attributed to millennials’ desire to be more conscious in all aspects of their lives, which has also contributed to a rise in vegan and cruelty-free lifestyles. 

Young professionals also benefit from hyperconnectivity and increased social media use, giving them the opportunity to instantly catch up with friends or family online rather than in person, over a drink. Virtual communities also exist online to help people in times of worry or stress, meaning they’re less likely to turn to alcohol to self-medicate. We’re also seeing a rise in ‘sober-curious’ people, who are looking to cut down on alcohol, but still enjoy an occasional drink. So, when working within a millennial team, it might be time to ditch the boozy activities in favour of more sober socials.

Alternative Activities

Luckily, it’s never been easier to drink less, with a variety of alcohol companies releasing soft drinks or 0% alcohol variations. In May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, sales of non-alcoholic beer were up 44% in the US compared to the same period in 2019.

However, alcohol-free employee activities need to be more creative than simply replacing cocktails with mocktails or switching to alcohol-free beer. After-work drinks essentially provides human connection and serves as a way of employees switching off and bonding. Here are a few alternative ways to provide that social connection which don’t revolve around alcohol, are available around the clock and are inclusive for entire organisations.

Research shows that increasing numbers of people are actively drinking less to improve their health and wellbeing, why not incorporate this into employee wellbeing social activities? Switch the drinks trolley for yoga classes, meditation, book or cinema club, cooking classes, or sports and outdoor games. All of which are more fun, release countless endorphins and provide fuel for conversation enabling employees to find out more about their colleagues, beyond what they order at the bar. 

Deeper Issues

This not only shifts the focus away from alcohol, but also acts as an opportunity for managers to dig deeper into what employees actually want to achieve from team activities. Employees may be looking to unwind and escape from the office, but is heading to the pub or offering complimentary drinks in the office just a lazy substitution for resolving wider issues such as disjointed teams or excessive workplace stress? By discovering why employees are utilising alcohol as a buffer will lead to a better understanding of their needs as both in and out of the workplace.

This article was originally published on HappyMaven on 16/7/20 and is republished here with permission.

How To Navigate Office Politics (Without Selling Your Soul To The Devil)

How do you play office politics to your advantage? Here’s four skills you’ll need to do so. 


Let’s face it, no one, bar perhaps a few actual psychopaths, goes to work because they love the politics of it. In fact, toxic office politics is often cited as one of the key reasons people quit, and is also associated with low levels of engagement and productivity, and on the more serious side, mental health issues and stress complaints. Does this mean that politics should be avoided altogether? 

Absolutely not. 

Whether you like it or not, office politics are unavoidable. Even worse, if you do choose to try and avoid them, there’s a lot at stake. In most offices, politics are akin to the workplace’s unwritten rules, and they have the power to dictate how people should act, who gets promoted, and ultimately who enjoys career success and who doesn’t. Many successful people will tell you that politics can be even more important than merit – so it’s important to understand how to play them to your advantage. 

Yet for many of us, politics and ‘playing the game’ feels like a dirty concept. Is there a way that we can advance our own interests without making our colleagues collateral damage? In other words, is there a way to play the game without selling our soul? 

Knowing the difference between good and bad politics 

Although many people inherently think of office politics as a bad thing, political scientist and cultural researcher Harold Laswell doesn’t believe they have to be. In fact, Laswell encourages all people to think about politics as simply ‘the way things are done around here’ in any particular environment, and as such, know the difference between what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ politics might entail. 

In any organisation, and in any role, a degree of self-promotion in order to advance interests is needed. Good politics, then, is where you do so, but not at the expense of others or your organisation’s legitimate interests. For example, good politics may involve strategically making connections with important stakeholders or deliberating making an effort to better engage C-suite executives. Good politics, otherwise known as being savvy, well-networked, influential, an intelligent communicator and even a little charismatic, serve a higher purpose in that they help you get ahead – but don’t sacrifice others in the meantime. 

Bad politics are the opposite of this, though, and something we’ve all been a victim of. Bad politics are when you backstab, create rumours, or do something that you’d otherwise consider sneaky and immoral in order to advance your position. In other words, you advance yourself by sacrificing someone else. Bad politics feels bad because it is – and no amount of telling yourself that it’s “worth it” or they “deserved it” should help you feel better. Unfortunately, bad politics can help you get ahead, but the success that ensues is often short-lived. 

In reality, bad politics co-exists alongside good politics in most organisations. But in the best organisations, bad politics are stamped out and only good politics remain. And if you’re able to hone your good political skills, success can easily be yours. 

Honing your political skills 

The politics of the office are a far-cry from the politics of Downing Street or the White House. Yet are the skills required to play office politics that different? Not really. Here’s what culture researcher Gerald Ferris recommends are the essential skills make office politics work for you: 

  1. Social astuteness: Social astuteness is the next step beyond one of the most essential workplace traits: self-awareness. When you’re socially astute, you’re not just aware of yourself and your own strengths and weaknesses, but you’re also aware of how others perceive you and how your behaviour impacts them. For example, if you’re socially astute you’ll understand that Karen from HR doesn’t think too highly of procurement, and you’ll be proactively working to change that. 
  1. Interpersonal influence: We’ve talked extensively here at Procurious about why influence is important and we’re not going to stop anytime soon because it’s so true – your interpersonal influence is everything. Influence, defined as your ability to affect how and what others think, is essential in managing politics. But before you dive in to influencing your own agenda at work, it’s important to understand others and specifically, what their preferences and goals are. This way, you can personalise your approach to exact the greatest level of influence. 
  1. Exceptional networking: Networking skills are another of Procurious’s favourite topics for good reason – they are essential to success. As we’ve always maintained though, networking within an organisation needs to be a two-way street, and you need to ensure that you’re creating mutually beneficial relationships with people with whom you expect support from. 
  1. Sincerity: Politics has received such a bad rap before because people think it’s inherently dishonest. But to the contrary, good politics requires sincerity, honestly, and openness (or at least the appearance thereof, where complete transparency isn’t possible). If people around you perceive you as sincere, they’re more likely to trust and believe in you, which can help with advancing your cause. 

Politics may well be a dirty word, yet the outcome of playing good politics certainly is not. A plethora of research shows that having the above mentioned skills enhances not only job performance and satisfaction, but influence, salary, opportunities and advancement. So even if politics has never been your game, it’s time to participate to the best of your ability – your career success depends on it. 

What has been your experience with office politics? Do you typically see more bad politics than good politics? Let us know in the comments below.

5 Conversation Starters for your Festive Party

Ready for another round of parties this festive season? Here are some hot tips and conversation starters to get you through your next social engagements.

conversation starters
Photo from Pixabay on Pexels

The festive season can be a continual revolving door of social situation after social situation. When it comes to the work environment not only do you have to deal with your own office but often those within your customer or supply network as well.

Making small talk and being stuck in social situations is even harder when your energy is low and you’ve had enough of people. What makes it hard for us to engage in conversations and why should you care?

Fear of Being Rejected?

A University of Chicago study by Nick Epley has revealed the biggest reason people don’t want to engage in conversation or small talk is a fear of rejection. This causes the brain to assign a high degree of risk in the concept of talking to strangers or making small talk.

There has been a further study that has proven this assumption to be incorrect, where no initiator of small talk was rejected.

Myth Busted

Armed with cold hard scientific facts doesn’t make the situation any easier but at least you know that most people are willing and receptive to talking. Here are five conversation starters to get you taking that all important first step.

1. Check the attendees and do research

Look up who is attending and what projects that they have recently completed. This can work for internal office parties and for your customers or suppliers. Work related topics are the safest, but make sure you keep it light.

2. How to deal with hierarchy

There have been a few occasions when fate has left me a few drinks in standing with the CEO. Don’t be silent susan. Management are human to, stick with safe topics like plans for the holidays. If you’re feeling really jazzy ask them what their biggest success or challenge was in the past year.

3. Common ground

If you’ve exhausted all your “go to’s” then try to think of some common situations where you may be able to relate to each other. Start simple with “are you more into podcasts, books or movies? What’s your favourite?”.

A Harvard University study has found that asking people about themselves can cause a change in the brain that naturally enhances their mood. The trick is to make it general enough that it doesn’t seem intrusive.

4. Do the twist

Flip the script a bit. We all get stuck with the usual silence fillers of “what are you doing for your break?”.

Tweak things slightly and ask “what are you most looking forward to over the holiday season?”. You’ll make the person think and it will provide opportunity for light, but genuine, conversation.

5. The naughty list

It’s good to keep in mind things that are a no go zone. If these things are executed exceptionally badly, they may prove to be career limiting moves.

  • Don’t get wasted. Monitor your drink intake and make sure you eat!
  • Don’t participate in gossip. You’ll get such a cringe when you next see the people in the sober (fluorescent) light of day
  • Don’t cross the personal communication line. It’s probably not a good look to leave voice notes over messenger or create an IG story of your new bestie.
  • Don’t discuss work in depth. It’s amazing what you can hear on public transport or out and about, let alone at an office party. If you are representing your company at a customer or supplier event then don’t be drawn in to talking about the competition or your organisation. You’re still logged on.

By applying the first five tips and avoiding the naughty list you’ll be sure to be on top form this festive season. No ragrets! Regerts! Oh, you know what we mean…

This article is solely the work of the author. Any views expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect official policy of the New Zealand government or of any government agency.

How Networking Can Help You Find The Best Suppliers

How can procurement professionals use social networking to find competitive suppliers?

By Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock

As procurement professionals continue to look for more efficient ways to grow and optimise their supply network to meet demands, the supply market analysis (sourcing) process should be streamlined through online networks, such as Procurious, and offline networks including industry conferences, mixers and memberships.

I recently conducted a research study to investigate how social networking, both online and offline, influences the relationship between supply market analysis and cost reduction. Through online survey responses from existing and former procurement professionals, data was collected to establish the foundation of this concept. Pursuant to a seven-point Likert scale, a total of 51,485 survey participants were asked a series of questions in the context of three areas: supply market analysis, social networking, and cost reduction.

In general, it was discovered that procurement professionals do use social networking to find competitive suppliers. However, the study also revealed that social networking, in and of itself, is not a universal solution for identifying competitive suppliers. Rather, it is another option for finding suppliers that ultimately impact cost reduction. When considering the competitiveness of the supply market, roughly 77 per cent of procurement professionals indicated that their supply market was highly competitive. This suggested that most professionals have the option to switch to alternative suppliers. Social networking revealed that when looked at as a linear combination of network range, network size, and network strength, it amplifies the relationship between supply market analysis and cost reduction. Furthermore, there is an opportunity for professionals to enhance the way they source by concentrating on certain dimensions of social networking.

The post hoc analysis uncovered two key insights regarding the dimensions of a procurement professional’s social network:

1. There is a lack of significance related to network size

2. Network range and network strength foster more social networking value.

Procurement professionals can accomplish this by cultivating closer relationships with their social contacts, and by increasing the communication frequency with their contacts. By doing so, they can effectively organise their social network to source suppliers who ultimately provide improved reduction in costs. When procurement professionals reflected on cost reductions achieved from purchasing decisions, they agreed that they experienced a cost reduction. Approximately, 44 per cent of professionals conveyed that they experienced cost reductions considerably higher than expected based on their actions. This suggested that purchasing decisions can have an impact on cost reduction.

The constructs of supply market analysis, social networking, and cost reduction were adopted from existing research to substantiate the framework of the study. Supply market analysis was measured according to a supply market profile, which considered the competitiveness of the supply market, the number of capable suppliers in the supply market, and the switching costs of the supply market. Social networking was measured through three dimensions of social networking: network size, network range, and network strength. Network strength considered the interaction frequency, relationship duration, and emotional intensity of a connection. Network range contemplated the diversity of contacts in a social network. Network size assessed the total group of links that a person has with another one’s total of information channels. Cost reduction was measured through cost performance, in terms of broad retrospective results. For example, higher than average cost reductions were achieved and cost reductions were considerably higher than expected.

This study revealed opportunities to expand sourcing strategies without limiting the sourcing approach. Social networking can be integrated as part of a hybrid sourcing approach of traditional sourcing schemes to improve cost. When compared to traditional strategic sourcing tactics, understanding the role of social networking can be a viable way to link innovation with the sourcing process. The linkage thus relates to improved cost performance as confirmed by the data collected from procurement professionals.

The content of this article was taken from Adam Cockrell’s dissertation – Supply Market Analysis: The moderating effect of social networking on cost reduction – DePaul University.

Become The Translator for Your Procurement Network

You may have thousands of contacts in your professional network, but how many of them are you actually influencing?  

By Lemon Tree Images / Shutterstock

In the age of big data, “vanity metrics” are a plague that affect every profession. Anyone who has a website, for example, will know that page views and “likes” may make you feel good, but are very difficult to link with key business drivers.

Vanity metrics to watch out for in procurement might include measuring team activity, counting your total POs, your number of suppliers, or number of projects without actually measuring the value that they’re delivering. A team member who brags that they’ve had 100 meetings with key suppliers in the past six months is talking about a vanity metric, but if that same person provides numbers around the savings and other value flowing from those meetings, then we’re talking about real value. 

Online networking is another area rife with vanity metrics. No matter whether you have 500, 5000 or 10,000 connections across LinkedIn, Procurious and other platforms, your network risks being nothing more than a dormant asset unless you contribute. By “contribute”, I don’t mean that you “like” something they wrote or share photos of your holiday – I mean that you share your mastery, your insights and your experience. For the majority of us, it’s rare that we contribute meaningfully to our networks.    

Remove the collection addiction

I believe we have a collection addiction in the business world. In previous years we collected piles of business cards wrapped in rubber bands – which often (if you’re anything like me) ended up gathering dust on a forgotten corner of the desk. These days it’s about racking up the number of connections either online or within our databases.

Both these situations have the same outcome – a massive potential network and no influence. I would rather you have 50 people who are highly engaged in everything that you do – commenting, joining the conversation and sharing your insights among their own networks – than 5000 people on a list that have never been touched.

In other words, popularity is the wrong metric – focus instead on influence. Focus on having people engaged enough with what you’re doing – so much so that they would happily share your ideas, insights and achievements with everybody that they know. In other words influence is the ability to say ‘look over there’ and have people engaged enough to look. Your responsibility then becomes making sure that what you point them towards, what you contribute, is and valuable as possible.

Engage rather than collect

While collecting contacts is a vanity metric, engaging with contacts is a value-driving activity. The best way I know how to engage with others online is to become the ‘primary translator’ of your space.

A translator is someone who goes out into the areas where others don’t have the time, nor the bandwidth, nor the experience to go, and bring relevant information back for their network in a language they understand. If you want to stand out and build your influence, you need to become the translator of valuable information for your target audience. What does that look like? The best place to start is to make a list of the top questions the people you are wanting to influence are asking in relation to your area of expertise. If you’re not sure – ask! Then systematically go through that list and find the best way to contribute the answers. It might be in the form of articles, videos, internal presentations, checklists, how to guides, insight reports or even preparing in advance in order to contribute more actively in meetings.

Another good exercise is to take a moment to think about the translators that you follow. Whose work do you consistently follow or read? Now think about what they translate for you; the value they bring, and how they go about it – do they present the information in essay-length blog articles, or bite-sized posts? If you consistently give them your valuable attention – I guarantee you they effectively translate something important to your world.

Speak the language of the business

You’ll notice I mentioned that the first step in becoming the translator – is getting to know what questions are important to the people you’re trying to reach. For procurement professionals this means understanding what questions your business stakeholders are asking. What are their challenges? What are their opportunities? That they may or may not have seen? Then it’s up to you to access your own expertise and bring that information back to them – not in procurement technical language, but in their language – in the language they already speak.

Translators know that they need to be able to speak the language of the business, and also understand that a multitude of languages exist within every organisation. This is often referred to as ‘charismatic language’. Every group and community of people has one. Your finance function, for example, will speak a very different language – use very different and specific words – than your stakeholders in marketing. What they do have in common, however, is that neither group of stakeholders will want to hear you talk about RFPs, RFXs, or tenders.

Become the trusted authority

Take time to revisit your network of stakeholder (both online and in the office) and think about what subjects you can translate for them – within your area of expertise. Doing so will capture their attention and help build their perception of you as an influential subject matter expert. However – much larger than that. They will know that you care about – and have real value to share in relation to – the issues that are important to them.

It’s this decision – to become your organisations primary translator and contribute your mastery in a format that resonates – that will quickly accelerate you to the role of trusted authority.

Now that’s the metric of real influence.