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Darryl Howes

DDNS Consulting Ltd


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Five routes for L&D freelancers to build business contacts


L&D freelancers must keep the business wheel turning. Darryl Howes provides some tips and advice to develop contacts and keep the business blues in check.

For any L&D freelancer, contacts represent the lifeblood of their business world; your network is your personal net worth.

Who you know (and therefore what you know) matters. Contacts are a source of business intelligence which can elevate you to the head of the queue when new work becomes available. This allows for better workflow management, less scrambling for low-value assignments and improved stress levels. Here are five tips for building contacts and keeping your business pipeline flowing and healthy:

  • Studies of those who consider themselves to be lucky or unlucky in life show that luck is an attitude of mind. For example, the case of a lottery winner who won £10m, but felt unlucky because they had to share the £20m prize. Or the passer-by who was injured after being shot in the arm in a bank raid: ‘I was lucky, it could have been much worse’. Research also shows that lucky people are experts at creating and noticing chance opportunities. Not convinced? Then just adopt a more resilient attitude to life’s challenges and see how this transforms ‘bad luck’ into good.
  • Never leave home without a means to pass on your contact details to a possible business prospect. Apps which allow you to transfer data between smartphones are available, but the trusty business card remains king. Well-appointed, good quality cards are available – or design your own using one of the many online services available. Don’t forget to follow up on the exchange of cards by telephone or email. Networking experts cite this as one of the most common mistakes made by the inexperienced networker.
  • Fish where the big fish swim, not in a shallow pond. Sure, we can’t all afford the membership fee for the Presidential Suite, but big hitters are big because they speak and comment at a range of accessible events, both online and F2F. Make contact via Twitter before the event and follow up by asking a question if there is an open mic or Q&A opportunity. Go ahead, be bold and raise your profile – valuable business contacts will follow.
  • When researching contacts, think about the four domains: work, family, community and self. Friends, family, school and university mates are all potential contacts (or introducers of contacts). Do you know where they work, who they work with and who else they mix with? The great thing about L&D is that it has universal appeal. Also, don’t dismiss university or college alumni or re-union gatherings. They are great for re-establishing connections – remember, if it’s not possible to sell to, then sell through.
  • Finally, don’t miss the opportunities presented by LinkedIn. With over 350m global members, it is fast becoming a major tool for social B2B selling and business connecting. Social selling is the process of listening closely to your clients and prospects. What updates are they sharing? Who are they following? What is trending in their industry? LinkedIn is not a ‘push’ platform, but is instead designed to ‘pull’ business contacts toward you. Seek the advice of an expert to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is properly designed and executed to stand out from the crowd.

Business pipeline blues can also be kept in check by developing what the psychologist, Professor Richard Wiseman calls ‘the gratitude attitude’. Wiseman quotes the example of walking into a bakery and detecting the delicious aroma of fresh-baked bread. But spend all day in the bakery and this effect soon wears off. The gratitude attitude calls for us to remind ourselves of the things for which we are thankful; a loving partner, good friends or a faithful pet. By not falling foul of the old cliché “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”, and reminding ourselves of how lucky we are, we have the opportunity to live more contented business lives.

So, don’t leave things to chance. Always be on the lookout for new contacts. You will find they come from the most unlikely of places.

Darryl Howes is a Strategic Business Networking specialist, with a background in commercial value generation and sales relationship management. He speaks, writes and consults on people networking challenges in business

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Darryl Howes


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