When I started my own business I had a 20 month old and a 3 year old. My decision to be my own boss had been preceded being made redundant, whilst the global economy crashed. Yes, that was three years ago. As my business was started in haste, I didn’t have the luxury of pots of savings to full back on or months of diligent preparation. My redundancy pay was, shall we say, not as generous as I would have liked it to be. All these reasons meant I needed to put food on the table quickly, but without the luxury of being at every networking opportunity available. Childcare made it difficult to get out there. For example, I’ve not yet found a nanny or childminder who is willing to start at 06:00 at the morning to let me go breakfast networking. In addition, evening networking events tend to get expensive when you factor in the cost of a babysitter for the evening.

Let’s forget the cost of physically being there – I also didn’t want to spend large amounts of time away from my family. My whole reason for wanting to be my own boss, was to enable me to build an income around the demands of my young family. So, I needed a safe and easy way of building my profile without having to actually get out there and physically meet folks.

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So how did I do that? And, more importantly, how can you learn from my example regardless of whether you are building a client portfolio, or just making sure your profile is high within your firm?

 1. Know who is important to you

If my experience working with delegates on business networking courses is anything to go by, most people have not sat down and thought about who they need to spend time with, and why. If you only have limited time to physically ‘be there’, then choose wisely which events you will ‘be there’, and who you will be spending time when you are there. For example, if you are employed, then who are the top 10 people who through their influence, position or budget can help you achieve your business goals? If you can only meet 2 people each week for a coffee or lunch together, who should be those two people? How about mapping out your ideal network to help you prioritise who really are the important people for you.

2. Use social networking sites

Ten years ago, when social networking sites were in their infancy, it was all about phone, email or meeting up in person. Now, you can keep in touch through many different channels – phone, email, meeting, skype, text, twitter, LinkedIn, facebook. For example, when I was working a 3 day week, I used to keep up with all the gossip in my department via Facebook. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn provide you with a one to many communication tool. This allows you to have conversations ‘little and often’ between the 1:2:1 interactions, such as a phone call. (This post on 27 ways to keep in touch with your network, may give you some more ideas) My use of Twitter and LinkedIn now negates my requirement to be at large conferences or mix and mingle events. I tend to use them to make initial contact with potential prospects and introducers. You may find 5 ways to tweet your way to business success useful.

Ways 3, 4 and 5 will be continued in tomorrow’s blog post

Download our free 10-point Linkedin Checklist to make sure your profile is optimised to maximise every opportunity which comes your way. (email required)

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