Business Is Missing The Human Connection
It’s not often I feel inclined to write a fluff piece, or I should say that I’m more often inclined to fluff it up, but this is a business publication so I try (try being the operative word) to be as professional as possible. However, I have a bone to pick with you, America.
Business has taken a major shift, and quite frankly it urks me. What happened to valuing people and creating relationships? American business people have turned into faceless drones, hiding behind email and text communication. It’s rare anyone picks up the phone anymore let alone meets you face to face at your office.
I blame technology. Smartphones and tablet computers have made it easy and effortless to be constantly connected while on-the-go. Skype and FaceTime have made it so you don’t even have to be in the same country as your colleagues and still able to hold meetings. Heck, even at grocery stores you can scan, bag and pay for your own groceries without talking to a single employee.
Where has our human connection gone?
Networking groups have even shifted from high quality business people mingling to create valuable relationships, to shark infested waters. I can no longer attend a networking event with the hopes of connecting with cool, like-minded people that will create a mutually beneficial relationship. I am now in an endless sea of salesmen and MLM’s stuffing their beauty products or health drinks down my throat.
Read related content:
- Is Your Networking Not Working?
- Businessfriend Offers Effective Tools to Improve Productivity
- What If Your Business Success and Identity Were Stolen?
Let me tell you what Networking is NOT about:
Networking is NOT about card sharking. AKA: collecting as many cards as you possibly can and then using that information to spam everyone you can with your sales pitch. We don’t care, knock it off.
Networking is NOT about finding a date. It is infuriating for women and men alike to attend a networking event only to be presented with a man or woman who is only there to get a date. This is especially true when said events are held at a bar during happy hour. This is what dating sites are for, people. Don’t make it the unhappy hour.
Networking is NOT about selling your product and/or service to every single person in the room. In fact, networking is not about selling at all. It is about creating meaningful, long lasting professional relationships. Don’t shove your sales pitch in people’s faces, it’s obnoxious.
Networking is about PEOPLE. You never know someone knows, or when they may need your services. Business is all about the relationships you create, not about the sale. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with a really cool person after a networking event for a quick drink or coffee and they either ended up being a great business contact or in one case, one of my best friends.
The human connection is one of the most essential pieces to life and in business. We can’t continue to sit behind computers, creating semi-meaningful relationships through Facebook likes and re-tweets. Go. Unplug.
I challenge you to find a networking event in your community and ask one person to grab coffee. Even if you strike out, chances are at the very least you will get to know someone new and learning how to make face-to-face connections.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.