If you work in an organization, you might be familiar with the increasingly popular position of chief networking officer (CNO). The CNO is the person who handles many corporations’ business networking and community-related activities.
The role or position of CNO has changed over the years. In the past, the CNO could have been the person responsible for such things as running the computer or IT department, or for computer-related functions in general, because networking was thought of as a matter of electronic connection. CNOs are still tech related, but these days we’re seeing many executives with that title in charge of completely different functions, handling business networking activities such as these:
- Community Involvement
- Internal & External Communication
- Public Relations
- Corporate Culture
- Social Capital
- Human Resources
- Client/Customer Relationships
- Developing a Referral Marketing Campaign
- Departmental Collaboration
- Relationship Advertising & Marketing
- Improving Vendor Relationships
- Referral Generation Strategies
As you can see, a CNOs responsibilities can be broad and complex. However, I believe the two key responsibilities to be: 1) relationship-marketing campaigns and 2) referral generation strategies. These roles should be top of mind if you’re going to network like a pro. They should be the principal job focus of a CNO.
First, however, let’s address the thought that’s probably just popped into your head: “Hey, I only have a ten-person (four-person/one-person) organization; how can I afford to hire a CNO to do my networking?
As business professionals ourselves, we remember what it was like trying to get a company off the ground. And, quite frankly, there never seemed to be enough resources to take care of all the things the business needed, let alone hire an executive-level person.
What I suggest is to create a CNO position in your company and then fill it yourself, at least in the beginning. In other words, don’t hire a CNO; just take on a CNO mindset. How do you create a CNO mindset? Start off by adopting a Givers Gain® attitude. This gets you in the spirit of finding ways to help others while simultaneously overcoming the scarcity mentality that can creep into your thinking. Lay out a clear set of guidelines and action items that you’d like the CNO to take, and then fill that position yourself for two or three hours a week.