Heather Townsend helps professionals become the ‘Go To Expert’. She is the author of the award-winning and best-selling ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking‘.
In this post, Heather shows you that it is possible to build up a network which helps you win business without compromising on your evenings with the family. How does Heather know this is possible? That’s how she personally built up a six-figure client portfolio…
How to network effectively
Being told that you are on Partnership track is a great moment for any professional. However, when you are returning from maternity leave and know you need to build up a client portfolio, this isn’t the best time to get this good news. After all, every lawyer or accountant will tell you that the best way to win business is via your network. But, doesn’t networking equate to evening events – at the time when you really want to be at home with your young family?
My answer to this conundrum is definitely not. When I say the word networking, what image pops into your head? I’m guessing you are thinking about an event which you have had to go OUT to, which will contain a room full of strangers. It doesn’t need to be this way. I will now explain why…
Networking is the process you use to find, build and maintain a mutually beneficial network. There are many different networking tools out there which remove the necessity for evening networking. For example:
1. Make use of events and groups which meet over breakfast, coffee or lunch.
4 years ago when I started on the networking scene, there was the ‘hard core’ breakfast networkers, the ‘mix & mingle’ in the evening events and the lunch time women only networking scene. Fast forward to now and there are all sorts of networking groups and events meeting all through the day. Do your research and see whether there is a group or regular networking event which works for your availability.
Download our free joined up networking tool kit, with plans, templates and lots of stuff to help you network effectively – whatever the time of day. (email required)
2. Use online networking to ‘find’ people for your network
Most social networking sites and communities are searchable. This means that from the luxury of your desk, and at a time convenient to you, you can converse with the people you want to meet when networking. The best way to harness sites such as LinkedIn is to set up daily and weekly routines to both interact with the right kind of people, but also spending time to find out where they hang out.
Download our free guide to building your networking strategy to help you decide where and how you will network to win business. (email required) [/box]
3. Be pro-active in deepening your relationships
Chatting with your network on-line is one thing, but if you never move away from small talk, then it is unlikely that you will get much benefit from the chatting. Therefore, work out who you want to ask to have a phone call with and spend time chatting with them, so it feels very natural to progress to a phone call.
4. Don’t neglect the internal network
Remember that partners and senior professionals in your firm are most likely going to be the 1st referrals for you. Make sure you include your internal firm network in your networking strategy. See also, 6 reasons why you must not neglect your internal network if you want to get to partner.
How do you network without going out in the evenings?
Heather helps professionals become the ‘Go To Expert’. She is the author of the award-winning and best selling book on networking, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking‘. She is also the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’