On Wednesday, we hosted a Virtual Think IT Panel Event on The TRUE Power of Networking and Collaboration. A huge thank you to our panelists, Marc Kermisch, Chief Technology Officer at OptumRX, Dan Abdul, Senior Vice President, and Chief Technology Officer at Medica, and Sayeed Reza, Vice President, Digital, Data, and Analytics Solutions at Optum for sharing their wisdom on collaboration. Thank you to everyone who joined us as well! 

How do you ensure diversity in your personal network? What are some challenges to maintaining that diversity? 

To ensure diversity in your network, look for different areas of knowledge that you don’t have. Sometimes to find diversity in your network, it needs to start with diverse talent. Having a company that hires diverse talent is important to ensure you are keeping your network diverse.  

Networking is easy when you have a great corporate position. Once you are displaced, it appears doors close, and you are no longer a priority. Please comment. 

While corporate settings can sometimes make it easier to network, it should be used as a starting point. You should be able to network outside of your corporate environment even beyond a LinkedIn connection. When not in a corporate setting, have a coach or mentor who may be able to connect you with people in their network.   

Introvert or extrovert? Any specific advice for introverts in making networking work for them? 

There are so many different networking channels that there is one out there for everyone. It may be helpful if you are an introvert to go with someone to networking events. That way, you for sure know someone, and they can introduce you to their connections. You can also do personal reach-outs to set up a meeting with someone.   

At what stage in your career did you realize the importance of networking and collaboration, and what did you do about it? 

The panelist’s agreed that they realized very early on in their career that it’s important to grow your network. When you have a leadership role, it’s important to grow your network. It not only makes you a good leader, but it gives you more connections for any future opportunities you may be interested in.   

What are the do’s and don’ts of networking and collaboration? 

Networking isn’t as valuable when you reach out only if you need something from that person. You need to be willing to invest time in networking and relationships. When networking, it’s important to talk positively with one another. Also, networking is more than just sending a LinkedIn connection and message. Be inquisitive when collaborating and ask who else you should connect with.    

Can you give an example of how networking and collaboration have helped you in your career? 

Some examples of how networking has helped the panelists in their career are: 

  • Learning about new opportunities through their connections 
  • Changing companies  
  • Reached out to their network to solve a problem 
  • Built new relationships  
  • Built their personal brand, how they want people to know about you 

Networking shouldn’t be transactional; it should be sincere. You will be able to discover knowledge that you didn’t know you were missing.