Global payroll professionals face challenges unlike any before when processing domestic payrolls or, comparatively, in other professions. Global payroll is unique and wonderfully complex, as Global Payroll readers can attest. The challenging, but rewarding, professional complexity reflects its multi-country scope resulting in a mixture of regulatory rules, jurisdictions, cultures, languages, customs, and time zones. In hindsight, when managing domestic payroll, reaching out to others for help and insights was relatively easy. It’s different, however, when seeking guidance in global payroll.
Of course, global payroll leaders are responsible for the flawless delivery of paychecks—accurate, on time, and in compliance. I have learned from practice that we need to be connected to the world around us to ensure we control our career paths and stay up to date on everything that is happening.
In this article, I proffer my personal take. It is based on my experience, advice, and guidance received through education, reading, research, and, last but foremost—through networking.
From practice and countless conversations about global payroll, I can state with confidence: Your global network is to your professional career and performance what the aorta is to the body, starting at the heart and supplying the entire system with life-giving sustenance.
Five Golden Rules of Networking
Networking is not easy. It requires preparation, dedication, energy, and a significant time investment. But, believe me, it’s worth it! Networking is all about interacting with others to exchange information, experiences, and stories to develop professional friendships.
Often we may ask ourselves, “How have others addressed this challenge?” “What is their experience with that vendor?” or, “What were their drivers for change?”
This is not book knowledge. These questions are answered by sharing experiences in conversations between people who are connected by a shared interest. That, to me, is the pure beauty and essence of networking: We are in this together, stories need to be unlocked. It benefits us all.
So, what can you do as of today to build, maintain, and grow your own network in global
payroll? Let’s look at what I call the five golden rules of networking for global payroll.
1. Be Brave, Be Bold
Your network starts with you. You can turn every event, whether it’s a seminar, course, or webinar into a networking opportunity. You do have to be brave enough to reach out to someone and speak up. Be bold, show interest, and ask questions, even if the question is about an issue you are uncertain of or know little about. You’ll be surprised how open everyone is to share.
Something that I have learned over the years is that I can be talkative—sometimes a bit too talkative. People were right: I had to listen more and talk less. This is why I now constantly remind myself of the WAIT principle, which stands for Why Am I Talking? Being brave, being bold, and reaching out also means listening to what others have to say and remembering it. You will be respected for this, and it will help you grow your network.
2. Be Visible
Rome was not built in a day. Neither is a network in global payroll. It takes time, dedication, and continuous visibility. You have to be visible to others for your network to grow. Go out there, either in person or virtually via online venues such as LinkedIn or webinars. Share your own story for others to benefit from via blogs, posts, articles (such as these) or in presentations—live or webinar. Don’t be scared. You’ll be appreciated for it, and someone in your network can probably guide you. Sharing often means you gain even more insights because you receive valuable feedback.
3. Be Proactive
I am always prepared and always do the following in preparation for any event I attend: Read the materials shared upfront, reflect on how they relate to my own situation, research the speakers’ backgrounds on LinkedIn, and prepare a list of questions I want answered. Then, go beyond your questions—prepare an answer to those questions you expect to be asked by others: Who are you, what do you do, and what brings you here?
This preparation makes you more comfortable as you engage with others. Being proactive makes networking a lot easier. You can then think of topics to discuss with others, arrange introductions, and be introduced.
Being proactive also means that you keep in touch with people you’ve met. Of course, exchanging business cards or connecting via LinkedIn is great but useless if there’s no follow-up. It’s best to stay connected by remembering what you’ve talked about before and sharing future experiences and stories. Networking is a quid pro quo game.
I once met an inspiring professional when I co-instructed a course in Dublin, and to this day we stay in touch. We share inside stories, discuss our approaches to global payroll strategies, and help advance each other’s profile. Isn’t that great?
4. Be There
Free up time in your busy schedule to build your network and, moreover, make yourself available when your network is in need of your expertise. Once you have established those professional friendships (and I have intentionally called it a friendship; therefore, a friend in professional need is a friend indeed), you have to be there for them—just as you have to be there for your personal friends and family.
It can be that someone in your network is asked to develop a refreshed approach to global payroll, and this is the first time he or she has to do so. Where to start, what to do? She or he then remembers once having met you at a course or workshop and calls upon your professional friendship. “Help me, guide me” is their message. You have to be there for this person, to listen and share your professional experience. Stay connected throughout the journey, and you’ll be surprised. You will learn a lot along the way as well!
5. Be Supported
Based on the previous four golden rules, it’s clear that networking takes time, can be costly, and is something that requires mutual support. This takes the form of professional support (by your employer, manager, and colleagues,) and private support (by your family and friends). Getting the support that you need is a delicate matter. A request for time, budget, and resources, or asking your family to take care of a home while you are gone— networking is cutting all of those areas short. Explain to others the why behind your ask: Why is it important, why now, why this? This helps others to understand your needs and offer you the support needed.
To summarize, these golden rules help you build, maintain, and grow your network in global payroll:
- Be brave, be bold
- Be visible
- Be proactive
- Be there
- Be supported
Go and attend that course you always wanted to attend, or that seminar, or the American Payroll Association’s (APA) Annual Congress and the GPMI’s Global Payroll Management Forum and build your network. Your story has to be heard—you have an audience, believe me. Build, maintain, and grow your network by using the golden rules or your interpretation of them. It will shape your career as an aorta for your professional development.
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Max van der Klis-Busink, RPP, holds a bachelor of business administration in human resource management and is a Registered Payroll Professional (RPP) in The Netherlands. He currently holds the position of Payroll Manager Netherlands at Shell’s global headquarters in The Hague. Over the past 12 years, Max held various roles in global payroll and has been active in developing the profession. He has developed a best practice method for being in control of global payroll and specializes in building payroll functions that continue to adapt to ever-changing business needs. Max has shared his passion for payroll through multiple articles in Global Payroll, webinars, and co-developed and instructed certificate programs in global payroll together with GPMI. In 2018, he was the first recipient of the GPMI’s Global Vision Award.