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Summer Journal

Volume 27, Issue 3

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Networking Backups … It’s Not What You Think!

Before I left for work, I popped off an e-mail to a BCP manager in Basel to catch up on personal and professional stuff. It had been over a year since we touched base, but it was as if we never stopped communicating and we picked up right where we left off. We shared information; she was up to her eyeballs in exercises and I was up to my eyeballs in a program design. I then opened an e-mail from someone fairly new to business continuity planning located in Riyadh. I reached out to someone in Ontario to help answer a complicated question posed from Riyadh and to also ask for a template for myself. Within a few minutes I had popped off a few quick messages either sharing information I had or requesting someone to share information with me.

It was Friday the 13th, the traditional day of bad luck, and I reflected on the irony of my good luck that day. As I drove to work, I realized it’s not just one day, but every day I am fortunate to have a great communications network of resourceful, brilliant, and helpful professionals at the tips of my fingers. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something from those willing to share information.

If you could use a few more “go to people” and further build a solid network of professionals to share resources, here are a few ideas to consider. Industry conferences and local BCP organizations are good places to start. There are BCP websites that offer networking opportunities and free webinars too.

There are a myriad of blogs, information sharing spots, and places to post questions to your fellow colleagues in this industry. Consider joining some of the online organizations as a starting point. You may find yourself laughing a bit in the process of learning something new or sharing your own thoughts and ideas. Did anyone see the online posting where a fellow colleague asked everyone to provide great disaster song titles for a year end party for his company? Who says BCP professionals don’t have a sense of humor?

What did you do with the contact list of attendees you received from the last DRJ conference? How about that business card someone gave you a few months back? Was there someone who you meant to send a quick message to and it just sort of slipped through the cracks because of the pile of work on your desk? When was the last time you went through your online address book and sent a message to a former colleague you lost touch with just to say hi? Did someone request a piece of advice and you just haven’t had time to respond? Did you hear through the BCP grapevine that someone needs a helping hand? Do you know someone who might be perfect for an open position and haven’t found the minute it would take to let that person know about the opportunity?

It doesn’t matter what you answered to any of these questions because the past is the past. However, your future network is waiting for you. I encourage you to contact that person who you meant to contact today.

While trying to decide what to write, I reached out to a former colleague who is fairly new to this industry. He told me that he agrees with the whole networking idea, but is hesitant to hit the send button to a more experienced person because of his lack of years and experience in this field. So I asked the obvious question. I asked him what advice would he wouldgive those who are new to the industry. What would he tell those professionals who were in the same boat he found himself in if he had a chance? He said you just must be bold about it.

Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

So if you are new to this industry, please do not let your lack of experience keep you from building your network now. Be bold and send that e-mail, make that call, send the message on your communications device of choice and ask your question and share your thoughts. Forge your BCP contacts and build your network of resources no matter your age, your generation, your experience level, your business culture or your geographical location. You may be surprised to find that one kind message may end up opening a door to a gateway of endless networking possibilities.

It takes some time and effort to expand your BCP network, but the investment is worth it. Consider carving out 10-15 minutes a day to network with other professionals. Perhaps this is something to look forward to every morning. What do you have to lose by sending a few communications to build your network while stirring your coffee and shaking out those cobwebs?

You also might want to try to carve out another 10-15 minutes to reach out to your internal network. Sharing information with your team(s), internal clients, and your management may help strengthen your business relationships and offer up a few surprises. For example, you may learn about a strategic initiative in your organization that is pertinent to what you are doing had you not sent the communication.

Business continuity, a rather niche field of work, provides us with an amazing network of business professionals. There are many who are more often than not, willing to help. If one person sitting in Northern Virginia can use the Internet to connect a few others on three different continents in just 10 minutes, can you imagine the impact if several hundred or thousands did this regularly? Networking, sharing information, communicating, reaching out to others in this field may be helping you, but it is also giving back to this industry immeasurably. That said, no one will benefit more from your networking efforts than you.

Jean Rowe has been in business continuity as both a practitioner and a consultant for more than 15 years. She is currently the business resilience manager for Verisign.