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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

As human beings, we always have a tendency to pop on our rose-colored glasses and talk about the “good old days.”

Remember the good old days, when pharmaceutical manufacturers were almost constantly growing and profitable? When expansion was the norm, not the exception? When a career arc was fairly secure unless you really fouled it up?

Now it’s all about lean. Entire sales forces drastically cut, or eliminated, or re-organized. Career people suddenly without careers. Downsizing sometimes feels more like capsizing.

We’re on a roller coaster these days, and with all the turmoil of the ever-shifting healthcare environment, that’s not changing anytime soon.

rollercoaster

So what is a pharmaceutical professional to do?

Do yourself a huge favor. Build your network. Build it now, even long before you end up looking for a new professional direction.

There is no corporate safety net. There is only your opportunity network.

I’ve given small and large workshops on professional network-building to industry audiences, and have also spoken to I don’t know how many dozens of colleagues in the industry who are having to re-assess their direction, usually unwillingly.

One very common regret – not pro-actively building a network ahead of time.

LinkedinUniversally, for our industry, I’ve pointed to LinkedIn as the best place to build your professional network. Don’t worry too much about Twitter and some of the other avenues (unless you’re deep into social media for other reasons). There are ways to be effective using LinkedIn that any intelligent person can employ without a huge investment of time.

This is where your colleagues are. You contacts outside the industry that should be cultivated. And probably, your next job.

If you’re in our industry, feel free to connect with me and let me know what you’re seeking to accomplish. I’ve built the Impactiviti network for you, not just me. We’re a bunch of us helping each other find what we need – not just optimal vendors, but new professional opportunities.

Get IN and let’s get started

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At the upcoming SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) Conference, I’ll be delivering a workshop on Building Your Own Professional Network (Workshop Period 1, Tuesday morning).

In Part 1 of this brief series, we looked at the fact that personal/professional networks outlast your role in any particular company. In Part 2, we considered the massive multiplying factor that comes from having a quality network.

Today, let’s consider this fundamental perspective about networking: The Gold is Everywhere.

Gold (valuable information, resources, connections, insight, new opportunities) is scattered throughout every room of people, every company, every organization, and every digitally-enabled network. And in order to mine that gold, we need a strategic approach to connectedness that will enable us to listen, learn, speak, and evolve. Think of your job on two levels: the responsibilities given you by your current employer; and your personal and professional responsibility to build quality relationships. Gathering gold.

Do you actually believe this? A long-term approach to building a professional opportunity network is fueled by this perspective. It becomes part of your DNA.

Social media is predicated on the notion that more connections with more people communicating with less friction will create more value – because the rich ore is distributed, not centralized.

The gold is scattered out there everywhere, not just within our department and company. And the individuals that have the humility, wisdom, and foresight to build a people-network approach to professional growth will mine more of it than others that cling to outmoded notions of some kind of corporate safety net.

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Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about us here.

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At the upcoming SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) Conference, I’ll be delivering a workshop on Building Your Own Professional Network.

In Part 1 of this brief series, we looked at the fact that personal/professional networks outlast your role in any particular company.

Here’s a second reason for you to invest focused time on getting to know new people: networks have a massive multiplying factor.

As of this writing, I am connected to 1,338 people on LinkedIn (many inside the pharma industry, and many in a vast array of other industries). Each one of those people knows 10, or 30, or 50, or 100 quality folks who are not just names on a list – they are collaborators and friends.

If I have a need for a recommendation, or am helping someone find a new job, I can not only touch those directly connected to me – they potentially allow me to touch a multitude of others. And the closer the ties you build with your own “inner circle,” the more likely it is that you will be introduced into other peoples’ inner circles.

While large networks have a powerful place as far as overall reach, it’s the smaller, high-quality networks where a lot of the referring and helping gets done. As you build human and helpful ties with others over time, you will find that every person who becomes a collaborator actually brings along a host of others. And one of those, most likely, holds the key to your next job.

The mathematicians may disagree with me, but addition=multiplication when it comes to having a great network. Do the math and let’s build together!

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Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about us here.

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At the upcoming SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) Conference, I’ll be delivering a workshop on Building Your Own Professional Network.

Why is this topic – this practice, this lifestyle – so important?

Here’s one reason – a network is more enduring than a company or a job.

We’d all like to believe that our current employer will be around forever, on a perpetual growth vector, and that unlimited opportunities will always be before us on the climb up the ladder.

I have two words for that: Santa Claus.

If I’ve seen nothing else over the last 25 years, it’s that companies rise and fall, jobs appear and disappear, and industries are disrupted at an accelerated pace. When a market dries up or a pink slip appears, who do you have to turn to?

Your network.

Many people wait until they are in trouble before suddenly scrambling to build connections (we’ve all seen that pattern on LinkedIn, right?). But that’s the wrong time. The right time to build your professional network is 5 years ago, and the second best time is right now. You want to have an opportunity network of great quality people in place long before you need them.

You need to build your network because you cannot rely on companies or markets to take care of you. People help people they know and like. And those relationships develop with conscious, pro-active effort over time. Seek out, meet with, take an interest in other people. Help them achieve their goals. You don’t even have to be an extrovert to network effectively (I’m not – my native tendency is definitely toward introversion). You just have to be intentional.

There is no Santa Claus. But you have a wide open opportunity to build rewarding, long-term relationships with people. Don’t pass it up in favor of putting milk and cookies by the fireplace.

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Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about us here.

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Impactiviti helps pharmaceutical training clients find the best vendors for their needs. Plus, there’s a lot more!

>> Subscribe to the weekly Impactiviti Connection pharma e-newsletter, loaded with news and resources for our industry

>> Join the Impact LinkedIn networking group (vendor-free): over 450 members devoted to commercial pharma

>> Sign up for one of our high-value SUCCESS Workshops for training departments on Vendor and Project Management best practices

>> Download the Client-Vendor Success white paper

And, for all your training and technology needs, speed-dial Steve Woodruff, who will help you find the optimal vendors for your needs (yes, the vendor recommendation service is free – here’s how it works).

I’m also happy to connect with you on LinkedIn. So…plug in to the Impactiviti network!

Seeking career or business clarity? You may also want to Discover Your Fit at SteveWoodruff.com)

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Over the past several years, the pharmaceutical industry as a whole has been wrestling with the whole complex issue of what to do about social media.

Is it a blessing or a threat? Get involved or stay on the sidelines? What is allowed or what is not?

Let’s step back for a moment and ask a far more fundamental question: Why should we even care? Do we need to become a social business? (the term “social business” is now on the ascendancy, to describe a company that embraces the use of connected people networks on every level to evolve the business).

Here’s why: the idea of social media in business is founded on a very important premise: The Gold is Everywhere.

Gold (valuable information, resources, connections, insight, new opportunities) is in our customers (patients and HCPs). Gold is in all of our employees. Gold is in our partners and distribution chains. Gold is spread out all over the marketplace. And in order to mine that gold, we need a technology-fueled approach to connectedness that will enable us to listen, learn, speak, and evolve. Highly recommended: this brief by SideraWorks on Social Business (be sure to download the .pdf).

We have some very valuable gold in our pipelines and patents and products – true. But when there is a field full of scattered gold all around us, is it wise to put on the blinders and impoverish ourselves? Particularly when all those people across the marketplace are shaping the future of healthcare?

So, let’s return to the premise: Gold is everywhere.

Does your pharmaceutical company leadership actually believe this? Is this perspective settling into the DNA of the organization? Because if it is not, then social media is just one more channel for us to push our message, and advance our agenda.

We have the gold (products), and we want your gold (money, loyal usage) in return. The commercial transaction mentality will only see social networks as a short-term means to an end. Sales.

Of course, we’re all in business to make money, and no company survives long without making profitable commercial transactions. But for pharmaceutical companies to begin to evolve into true social businesses – that is, to compete in the “new normal” world – there is a core perspective that needs to be embraced at the highest level (and this entire principle extends way beyond pharma, to every type of business).

Social media is predicated on the notion that more connections with more people communicating with less friction will create more value – because the rich ore is distributed, not centralized.

The gold is scattered out there everywhere, not just within our labs and corner offices. And the company that has the humility, wisdom, and foresight to build a people-network approach to communication and growth will mine more of it than others that cling to the past.

_________

Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about us here.

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If you’ve followed my writing and speaking over the years, you know I’ve been a big proponent of social media as a vehicle for communications, network-building, and new business approaches. And I absolutely believe – more than ever – in the power and utility of digital networked communications

I was among the first in the pharma universe to begin blogging and tweeting pharma/healthcare topics. The first time I used Twitter at an industry conference, I wondered if I might be discovered and tossed out!

In fact, I even put together the first published list of pharma folks and companies active in social media – which, at the time, was a pretty small group! That number has since grown considerably, which is a very good thing.

As the industry has evolved, however, I can’t help but ask the question – is it time to give up on the idea of commercial prescription pharma interactively participating in the open, public social media space using current platforms? (please note the careful choice of words before having a knee-jerk reaction).

I’m not giving an answer – I’m asking a question. Here are the streams of thought feeding into this inquiry:

1. The FDA has shown zero readiness to give guidance about the use of on-line media in pharma communications. They are ready, however, to send warning letters about perceived violations in an ad-hoc fashion. This seriously inhibits pharma companies from getting involved. Regulatory fear does not go along well with open, public discussion.

2. The nature of current social media approaches and tools demands real-time interactive response and dialogue, out in the wilds of digital space. Pharma does not and cannot communicate that way.

  • Facebook demands interactivity and informal 2-way communication. Pharma companies are forced to come up with all kinds of work-arounds to make Facebook something other than it is, in order to participate. It’s like trying to enter a canoe into a speedboat race.
  • Twitter demands short bursts of communication. Pharma communications (prescription brands) demand fair balance, context, long explanation, disclaimers, and all kinds of monitoring/reporting. Would a congressman reading a speech from a teleprompter fit nicely at a cocktail party?
  • LinkedIn is all about the individual professional. Nice platform for recruiting, even in pharma. But my experience with pharma folks (I have years of it) on LinkedIn is that interactivity is almost nil. Pharma professionals live and work in an atmosphere of non-openness. You can sow seed on a gravel driveway, but don’t expect much of a harvest.
  • YouTube is one place where pharma companies can participate on a social platform, as long as you strip it down to, essentially, one-way broadcast and storytelling. It’s not social, but it is media.

3. Pharma companies tend to rotate commercial professionals (sales, training, marketing, etc.) through their job roles every 1-3 years. This means a constant default to short-term thinking. However, successful involvement in public social platforms demands long-term commitment and readiness to innovate. As soon as a little bit of expertise begins to accumulate, it’s time to move on to the next rung up the ladder (personally, I think that this, and the bondage of short-term quarterly profit reporting, are the two biggest hidden killers of pharma companies making true inroads in social networking).

4. Social media is moving rapidly to point-to-point on-demand mobile communications (including real-time UGC of all sorts, location data, commerce, and fragmented data streams). Pharma is all about centralized, one-way, controlled communications. Black, meet white.

We could go on, but the point is this: Public, interactive, real-time social media platforms and commercial pharma communications simply don’t mesh well. At all. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. Stuff you can easily say about other industries really isn’t going to translate well to pharma (as much as I like Chris Brogan, he’s out of his league on this post).

Is that a death knell for social media usage across all areas of pharma? Not at all. Non-branded communications can occur on existing public platforms, albeit often with a good dose of restrictions and care. Non-public networks (private communities) are a fruitful area of valuable involvement. Private, internal social networks (Yammer and the like) are potentially hugely useful apps for digital networked communications. One-way storytelling, while not fully social, can still add value, even in the public sphere (if done very carefully). Mobile apps that provide information or services are great – though again, they are using social-ish platforms in a less-than-fully-social fashion.

Also, the maturation of a platform like Google Plus could lead to more controlled communications to distinct, defined groups – and that is where the future could well be brighter.

Commercial, prescription pharma communications happen within thickly-walled gardens. The open, public social web is anything but that – and it’s not going to change for the pharma industry. Current platforms make it very difficult to marry the two. The future may well lie in walled social gardens, but existing approaches are still maturing through the wild west stage. Maybe we should expend less concern about “getting on Facebook” or Twitter, and architecting a social strategy that fits the industry – rather than trying to fit this square industry peg into a round, shape-shifting hole.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Add your comment!

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