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How to Build Your Network

In previous blogs we’ve talked about the importance of building on your strengths – of focusing on what you’re good at, rather than worrying about your weaknesses. This post is about filling the gaps in your skills, knowledge and expertise, by building your network and by networking differently. It’s about looking for your subject specialists and identifying who you need around you, to build a strong network.

We hear a lot about the power of ‘networking’ in business. But your ‘network’ is not just the people you meet at organised breakfast meetings. ‘Networking’ is not just about attending these meetings, delivering your one minute pitch and then heading back to the office. And ‘networking’ is not just about looking for new potential clients.

Here’s my take on it:

  • Networking is about going to a wedding, being seated on the 'various friends' table and talking to strangers about what they do. It’s about being easily able to explain what you do, without boring them – you’re not the one giving a speech! Networking is about bumping into an old work colleague at the supermarket and being able to give them a really clear idea of the sort of new job that you’re looking for, or the new client you’d like to work with.
  • Your network is the people with whom you want to surround yourself. When you set up your business, chances are that you were told by an adviser that if you can’t do tasks like marketing, admin and finances, then you should outsource those functions. You need to find specialists to do them for you, so that you concentrate on doing what you’re good at. You can add all sorts of tasks to this list – HR, website design, cold calling ... If you work for a large firm, it’s the same as asking the IT department for advice when your computer breaks, rather than trying to fix it yourself. Don’t try to do everything yourself, you'll do a worse job than the specialist.
  • Networking is as much about finding these specialists as it is about finding new clients. You need to identify the best people you want around you – the specialists who can give you the advice you need, or who you can recommend to other people. You can use networking to find your specialists; get to know them and they’ll be able to recommend you to new clients as the specialist in what you do!

I was once described as the most connected man in Surrey! Who do you need to meet? Who would you like me to introduce you to?