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Networking lessons from Geese

March 17, 2015

Networking Lessons from Geese

Possibly because my father is an ardent twitcher and probably because of seeing geese so regularly whilst out and about I have always been fascinated by why so many birds fly in a V formation.flock of migrating canada geese birds flying at sunset courtesy of Andrea Mathieson

V formation (sometimes called a skein) is the symmetric V-shaped flight formation of flights of geese and from the research that has been carried out and published in journals such as Nature we can learn a lot that can be transferred into business and life!  What follows are my interpretations for business and for networking!

And it must be good as Sir Alex Ferguson talked about them during his training sessions with Manchester United and also on the BBC programme Secrets of Success with Nick Robinson shown on 11th October 2015

Goose fact 1.  As each goose flaps it’s wings it creates 71% more uplift for birds that are following, so by flying in formation the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than by flying alone.

Lesson for business

By getting people to share a common direction and sense of community then you can get to a destination quicker and easier because all are travelling on the thrust of one another

Networking perspective

A networking group or event has a common purpose – to benefit all those there in a win-win way.  Whether this is through  becoming better informed, gaining more knowledge, building relationships with suppliers, raising your profile with potential customers, sharing expertise, generating business opportunities with those that you meet (and perhaps even the people they know!)

Goose fact 2. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying and quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

Lesson for business

By adopting the awareness of geese we will stay in formation with those headed in the direction we want to go.  We are willing to accept their help and to help others.

Networking perspective

By growing and building your network both face to face and online (business contacts, customers, suppliers, friends, family, social groups, alumni, trade, online groups) and staying in contact with them you will generate opportunities – sharing a link, making that call, thinking of how you could help others and how others can help you are all part of a successful business strategy.  A simple message is found in team; Together Each Achieves More.

Goose fact 3.  When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Lesson for business

It pays to take turns to do the hard tasks and share the leadership.  As with geese we are all interdependent upon each other skills, capabilities and the unique arrangement we have of gifts, talents and resources.

Networking perspective

As the leader of the business, by definition, you are the vanguard, the main man/woman, CEO, MD and possibly everything else! And also by definition the person who needs to know everything, be an expert in everything from HR, health and safety, accounts, sales, marketing, customer service, commerce, IT, websites, social media, transport/logistics, fulfilment and then having to fit in your own life – family, children, holidays, the school run, leisure, sport, hobbies, food and drink, shopping, DIY and sleep.  How can this be done in 24 hours?  When do you get the time to do what you are best at – the service you provide, the product you designed, the expertise that people want?  With  your network you have unlimited expertise and people who can help you get what you want from life and business.  And the best thing is that you will know these people, probably like them and that’s where the trust that is so important can begin!

Goose fact 4. The geese flying in a formation will honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson for business

We need to ensure that when we honk we honk encouragingly.  In groups/businesses/organisations  where there is encouragement, the production is much greater.  Communication is key – the right message, delivered in a way that people can understand and see how they can make a difference is key.

Networking perspective

At a networking event perhaps not so much honking as conversation.  The conversations that you have should be about those that you meet and not a sales pitch from you.  By asking questions you can find out so much about why a person you meet does what they do, what challenges they may have, what they are looking to achieve short term (long term), the successes they have had, what they are working on currently and when you do find this out then opportunities will start to become apparent for you and even better for those that you know.   Try asking the unexpected question, the one that causes someone to stop and think – the answer will always be more memorable for all and give far more insight than “what do you do?”  Although you have the opportunity to be memorable here – when asked what you do – stay away from the stock, standard response “I am an …..and I do ……”.  A well known example is from Harley Davidson  – do they build/sell motorcycles – no they provide experiences!  Do I arrange a monthly networking lunch in Exeter – no – you have the best environment for a conversation that can lead to connections and collaborationsOnce the people in your network are all “honking” then there will be unlimited possibilities.

Goose fact 5.  If a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it.  They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again.  They then launch out in their own formation to catch up or join another flock

Lesson for business

If we have as much sense as geese then we will stick together in difficult times as well as when we are strong – collaboration can help for any business  – as has been mentioned no one knows everything even if you are in the same business sector the expertise can be different even niche.

Networking perspective

A business going through difficult times can get through these with the support of the network.  .  Knowing where to turn for help is something that a network can provide – businesses that are sick can be saved if you know where to find the best expertise.  With the people in your network you will be able to ask for the help that you need – if someone cannot help directly they will certainly know someone who can and the connection can be made.

In conclusion any networking that you do (or are looking to do) can be very much like the geese in their formation – something that is second nature, common practise and that is mutually beneficial.  If you can apply this to your networking then you will undoubtedly become more successful!

Sean Humby is Director of Business Network SW and host of the events in the South West – bringing decision makers together monthly at lunchtimes to build long term business relationships.  The events in the South West are held in Bristol and have been since 1993

Event host - Sean Humby

Article writer and Event host – Sean Humby

The environment Business Network SW provides is relaxed and business focused to ensure that you and your business get the most benefit.  Guaranteed conversations leading to connections and collaborations.  Guaranteed you’ll leave be better informed and connected than when you arrived!

For more details and your invitation email Call 01981 540708

Visit Blog Twitter @seanhumby #BNSW

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