Networking for the terrified

I’ve just come back from my daughter’s fifth birthday party. Yes, I’m weary, yes I’m deaf, yes, I’m covered in orange juice. However, she had a wonderful time and I was asked by several children I barely knew, if they could come to our house for tea. Strange that, isn’t it, how children have no fear of rejection and no knowledge of social etiquette.

I think they’re absolutely right, of course. Wouldn’t the world be an easier place if, as a business person, you could simply go up to someone who you hardly know but who you think could be useful to your business and ask if they will refer you to some clients within your target market? That’s it, it’s out in the open, there’s no ambiguity and you haven’t spent an excessive amount trying to impress the person. Sadly, as professionals, most of us lose this ability over time, having dealt with any number of oppressive silences, frosty glares and mumbled answers when our networking abilities haven’t been up to scratch. As a result, our comfort zone contracts alarmingly and we find ourselves making excuses not to expand our contacts, not to call upon them for business development.

Unfortunately, with budgets considerably squeezed and sales figures wavering unnervingly, now is the time we need to call upon our networking skills.

Several years ago, as head of marketing for the Manchester office of PKF accountants and business advisors, I drafted in the help of Will Kintish, a networking expert. His workshop was refreshing, appropriate for professional services and certainly appealed to those terrified at the thought of having to network.

If you are one of these individuals, I will be delighted to help you out with some tips to get you started. Alternatively, a visit to Will’s site is well worth it.

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