There is an old saying that goes "No man is an island ... no man stands alone." It was coined by John Donne, a 17th century English poet (1572-1631) and I believe that it means that human beings not only want ongoing interaction with others, but some individuals even need a form of inter-dependency as well. Living, playing or working alone, without regular communication or physical contact with other people can weaken your spirit, may be self-defeating and could cause unnecessary anxiety, stress and self-doubt.
Whether we like to work or personally interact with others is not the issue: it's a fact that it's almost impossible not to need to communicate with friends, family or colleagues on a daily basis. Feedback and the sharing of thoughts and ideas help us to succeed, invent, be creative and continue the learning process throughout our lifetime.
It's even more important today than ever before. In fact, with all the changes in our communication technologies, the business environment is greatly impacted by the need for collaboration and interaction. There appears to be unlimited information available to us in cyberspace, but who has the time and/or energy to research every problem or issue that impacts us?
As most of us are all very busy credit executives, we may not have the resources to discover all the answers on our own. In the limited time available to us, networking becomes a very important tool. If you need to get an answer on any subject--be it policies, procedures, references, formulas, problem solving, etc.--somewhere out there is someone who has that answer. Personally, I can always contact a fellow professional in one of my networks, communicate my issue with them and can expect an answer in a very short time span. That in itself shows that we, in the business community, need not be alone with our issues when this valuable tool is near at hand.
There are many ways to get started in building your networks. I will share the ones that I am involved with and that have worked very well for me over the years. Why re-invent the wheel if one of your contacts will share their blueprints with you? Here is my top five list of networking venues:
1. Industry Credit Groups
No matter what line of business you're in, there are multiple companies out there in the same line of work that share similar customers, terms and conditions, economic trends, policies and procedures. I belong to two such groups for the chemical industry. I was, and continue to be, mentored by members of these groups. When I started working for my new company, I needed to come up to speed with the terminology of my business, the culture of the industry and how the global economy impacted us. whenever I asked my questions, I got my answers usually the same day ... sometimes within a few hours. Industry meetings are usually held within the city you operate and have regular face-to-face meetings where relationships are made and relevant information is exchanged. Credit managers want to succeed and they want their colleagues to do so as well. We strive to help each other and this forum is ideal for sharing, helping, researching and advising.
2. Credit Associations
There are many credit associations out there, but the main ones I belong to are the National Association of Credit Management (NACM), Credit Institute of Canada (CIC) and Lumberman's Credit Bureau (LCB).
Within NACM, there are many industry groups that use NACM as the facilitator and chair of meetings. These meetings are strictly regulated (like the industry group meetings above), with the guidelines and rules of conduct read and agreed to at every meeting. …