Sid Fuchs of INDUS: Valuable Networking/Personal Brand

Posted on April 8, 2011, by , under Featured Interview.

Sid Fuchs, senior adviser at INDUS, Corp, elaborates on his diverse background in intelligence, national security and defense. Fuchs believes that in order to be successful your personal and professional brand must be the same and that social media is becoming increasingly relevant, but will never replace old-fashion networking.

Look for Fuchs’ book about how to effectively network in the coming months.

What is your background?

I grew up in New Orleans, living about two blocks from the Mississippi River, wanting to be a writer and/or a musician (guitar) and although I had a music scholarship to Loyola, I enrolled at LSU as a Journalism major.  I then graduated from LSU with BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering, the other end of the spectrum from music and writing. I moved to the DC area in 1987 when I took a position as an intelligence officer with the CIA.  I left the CIA in 1995 and since then have held senior positions with product companies including Digital Equipment Corporation, Oracle, and Rational Software.  I was also the president and CEO of TASC, Inc when it was a Northrop Grumman subsidiary, growing TASC to over $1.2B.  More recently I was the president and CEO of OAO Technology Solutions, which we sold in January 2010.  I currently sit on the boards of Camber Corporation, Applied Research Associates, and Geocent, Inc.  I’m also a member of the Defense Science Board’s Intelligence Task Force and have been on the National Defense University Board of Visitors since 2003, by way of a White House and Secretary of Defense appointment.  I’ve had many diverse and rewarding experiences in various organizations and business models to say the least.

How would you describe your on-line and off-line brand?

I don’t really have an off line and on line brand – I only have one brand.  I think consistency between what is going on in your actual life and what is happening on line must be the same.  Your brand only works if it is genuine and real.  Try to create a false brand and people will see right through it.  I would describe my brand as a person who is a risk taker, very active, creative, well balanced, achieves results, mentors and promotes others, but also has a bit of an edge, although that edge has been tampered down with age and experience.  With your personal brand, you can’t control what goes into it, but you can manage how people perceive you.

What advice would you give folks wanting to be more of a connector like you?

Networking requires a proactive investment in time and others –it’s about building and sustaining relationships.  It still amazes me that so many don’t realize the value of networking, or know how to do it in a way to achieve the results they are looking for.  When you network, you need to bring something to the table that others find useful or interesting.  You need to create a person’s need to meet you.  Exchanging business cards is not networking.  Building relationships takes more than that.  As a very good friend of mine often says, when it comes time to need a relationship, it is too late to build one!

What are your thoughts on how to best leverage social media?

I see social media as a tool, but not the end all.  Social networks are important, but they will never replace personal (live) networks.  What’s missing from social media is intent and character – people portray themselves as they want to be seen and it is difficult to assess accuracy through pure social media.  However, 20 minutes of live interaction can give you a wealth of knowledge that you couldn’t get through social media, and therefore, is going to be more reflective of a person’s true self.  Once both parties are comfortable with the other, true networking can begin.  Augmenting, not replacing, personal networks with social networks is the right model, in my opinion.

You are writing a book on networking. Can you tell us more about this project?

Over the years I have authored a dozen or so articles on various topics and started compiling material for a book, but could never decide on a subject – Leadership?  Business Operations?  Strategy?  Those topics have been exhausted over and over again.  One day someone asked me what I was really passionate about, and without hesitation, I said networking.  At that point, the light bulb came on and off I went to write the book.  I am in the editing phase of the manuscript and I hope to have it published within the next few months.  The book addresses how and why to network, how to get the most out of your network, and landmines to avoid.  It’s more of a “how to” book with practical application versus a theoretical piece that focuses solely on the concept of networking.

What does the future hold for you over the next 5 years?

I am turning 50 this year and I can honestly say that I have been and am living the dream.  I am taking the year off to sit on corporate and federal advisory boards and do some consulting while figuring out what the second half of my life has in store for me. I’ve been very fortunate to have had vast personal and professional success and experiences at my age, so I am as curious as anyone as to what the future holds for me.  As mentioned, I am finishing my book, spending a lot of time with my wife and three teenage boys, traveling, playing guitar and bass in a few bands, and enjoying the Harley.  I believe that you can’t force things, so I’ll wait to see what develops.  The unknown excites me and makes life that much more interesting.

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