Networking: your number one business

development opportunity

All leaders lean on their network, be that for informal advice, recruiting a key hire or to develop their business. In fact, it’s probably one of the most valuable assets any successful leader will nurture during their career.

So how should you build a network and make the most of it? Well, I believe the starting point is your frame of mind. A network doesn’t just happen to you; you need to be active about building it, and keeping it fresh and alive.

Networking is work and should be treated as such; plan it, set time aside for it and, if you can, measure it.

Remember, the more you build it in a way that feels comfortable the more it will reflect you, and the easier and more enjoyable and authentic networking will be.

So, start by thinking of all the different people you have met and connected with in different places at different life stages and work out where they might be now.

You will surprised at how many people you will have come across, the amazing places they have landed and, because of the network effect, how many people they might be able to help you know. Create a list of these people and grow from there.

Next, be active about people on that list. Who are the key people on there? Prioritise them and keep in touch with them. Give yourself a goal to meet “X” people a month. Know them and be prepared to help them as, almost inevitably, they will be willing to help you in return.

Moving job, getting a promotion or coming back from maternity leave are a few of many great opportunities to reach out to people. Everyone loves to catch up with old colleagues and friends, and so a network can constantly be reinvigorated and refreshed with the right amount of effort and nurturing.

Most of all, your network belongs to you forever. It’s portable so you can take it from role to role and really make it work for you time and time again.

And remember, whilst you may not think you need your network today, you may need it tomorrow. Roles and circumstances change; one day you might be a buyer of services, the next you may be the advisor selling. So, maintaining those relationships, doing the right thing the right way and helping when you can will pay dividends.

Start building that network now; do it your way and make it yours as it will soon be more valuable than you ever imagined.