Networking. It makes more professionals shudder in the beginning. How to network effectively forms the basis of plenty of articles on the How To Make Partner website.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could generate business with people you already know and get on with?  Well, you can. In fact, your firm may be expecting you to.  It’s one of the best ways for junior partners (and would-be partners) to build their own client portfolios. After all, your friends are going to want to help, aren’t they?

From clubbing to clients – how easy is it?

If only it was as easy as that.  But it’s a big leap from larking around in the pub with your old university friends to actually turning them into clients for your firm. It’s easy enough to go the other way – plenty of us have friends who started out as clients, so why does it feel so tricky to do in reverse?  This very question is raised at workshops that I run – where and how do you start that conversation?

Here are some tips that will help you generate leads from your personal network.

Choose your time and place well

Business conversations work best one-to-one, or in very small groups. So, don’t start marketing yourself in the middle of a large gathering.  Find a time where you can talk quietly away from wisecracks and bellowing over pub music.  Sport is a great way to meet a friend one-to-one. The old golf course cliche is perfect, if you are a golfer.

Send useful information to specific friends

Instead of just sending jokes and chatty emails to your pals, start targeting some of them individually. Choose useful articles written by your firm and send them to a friend who will find them useful.

Click here to download your FREE networking plan (email required) taken from the bestselling and award-winning book "The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking". 

Remind your friends that you have a professional career

Many of your friends may still think of you as you were when you all met. They probably have several photos of you ‘tipsy’ and playing the fool.  You may need to make them realise that your life and career has progressed.

Ask to talk business, and look for reciprocal favours

Ask if it’s ok to talk business.  Your friends are probably at a similar career stage to you, and who knows, they might welcome the chance to use their personal network to generate leads as well.  You lose nothing by asking.

Take a friend networking

If one of your friends would benefit from a networking or work event, take them along. Not only will it help you feel less nervous if you have a friend there, it’s also a great way to introduce your friend to people in your firm.

Be a matchmaker

It might not be possible for you to have a personal friend as a client (after all they know where the bodies are buried!) This doesn’t mean that they won’t be an excellent client for someone else in your firm though.  Keep your eye out for potential matches, and make sure you do the introductions.

Mix your social circles

We all tend to have a work circle, and a friends circle, and a family circle.  Mix them up a little. This takes courage (I was so anxious when I invited my parents and some clients to my book launch!)  A sponsored event, such as a 5k run, or a pub quiz team, is a great way to get two groups of people to mingle.

Your personal network could be a rich source of business for you and your firm.  It takes a shift in mindsets – yours and your friends’ – plus creating the right opportunities to turn a mate into a client.

If you would like help to win business from your network, how about downloading a free copy of your Joined Up Networking toolkit, or Networking Plan, Relationship Plan or even a step-by-step guide to writing your own marketing plan?

Read more about ways your personal network can be useful:

How to ask for referrals from friends

6 tips to get back in touch with old colleagues

How to find unadvertised roles

Click here to download your FREE networking plan (email required) taken from the bestselling and award-winning book "The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking". 

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