This is a common question that I hear. After all when you add in client work, the billing targets you are required to hit, and family/home responsibilities. Is it any wonder that there is very little time to get out and ‘network’? (Often in your own time!)
In this extract from ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘, we explain why you need to invest time in your network now, not just when you have business development responsibilities.
An effective business network contains strong relationships built upon a foundation of trust and mutual respect. These relationships don’t magically appear at the point you need them. They take time to develop and mature. Very often you need to be thinking ahead and place bets on which professional and personal relationship are going to bear fruit in the long term. None of us has a crystal ball, and is able to predict who out of our network from school, university and the early years of our professional life is going to be the one who makes it into a position of influence and power. What we do know, is that this early network which you have been blessed with, if you keep in touch with it, will 5-10 years down the line produce potential clients and well-placed introducers for you. This means that the best time to build your network that is going to sustain and facilitate your career progression upwards is now.
You may be thinking why can’t I just develop work-winning relationships with potential clients and partners right now? After all, these are the people who are likely to be able to help me achieve my goals. Unfortunately most potential clients and introducers are unlikely to want to build a relationship with someone who is a fairly junior member of the firm. This relationship is normally driven by a desire to have a direct contact with the decision maker and acknowledged expert within your part of the practice, rather than a personal slight on your character. It is for this reason that we recommend in the early years of your career, focusing on relationships with your peers and people one level above you inside your firm, from your university days, from others firms and professionals networks. Ideally as their careers progress, your career will benefit, too.
To help you build a network to support your career for life, buy a copy of our award-winning and best-selling book on Networking, The FT Guide To Business Networking. (Over 80+ five star reviews on Amazon)