Author Profile Picture

Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


Read more from Heather Townsend

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

How to build your networking strategy: Stage 1 – Identify your networking goals


In the 2nd part of this six article series on how to build your own networking strategy, Heather Townsend looks in depth at the first stage in building your own networking strategy; identifying your networking goals.

If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how can you use your network to achieve it? Common sense really, but so many trainers go out networking without a clear idea of what they want to achieve with their networking. It’s all very well to say 'I want to win business or find a new job via my network', but you will need to be clearer and more specific about your end goals if you are going to leverage your network to help you attain your goal.

If you don’t have this big goal clear in your mind, it’s going to make it very difficult to make your networking activities actually happen, because you don’t have sufficient enough motivation to do any or some of these things:

  • Head out to a networking event after a long, and I mean long, hard day in the office
  • Pick up the phone and speak to someone you haven’t connected to for a while
  • Make the effort to go into LinkedIn regularly and join in the conversation

To help find your big goal for networking, it’s worth reflecting on the four reasons that people typically go networking:

  • Build their support community
  • Build their profile
  • Find and win business
  • Build their knowledge and expertise base

It’s absolutely fine to network for all, one or some of these reasons - just as long as you are clear about your motivations and how this helps you. For example, I am currently deliberately building my network with the mothers of children who play football. This is primarily to help me strengthen my support community, so that the saturday mornings on a wet, windy touchline become more bearable.

I have a good friend called Juliet who has clocked up over 15 years as an in-house trainer, and is going to go freelance after Christmas. Like many new freelance trainers, Juliet has been told time and time again to work her network to get her first pieces of work. We will use Juliet as a case study throughout these articles.

If you asked Juliet, what she wanted to achieve, she would probably say: "a thriving freelance training practice".

Don’t we all? However, the first question to ask Juliet is actually what does a thriving freelance training practice look like for her? Then, how much work does she directly want to source herself, how much through joint ventures with other trainers, and how much as an associate? Whilst, it may seem like I am splitting hairs here, actually these are two very important questions which need to be answered. These are three very different routes to market and will require a different networking focus. (I’ve conveniently chosen to ignore, for simplicity’s sake, the fact that Juliet is a very good executive coach, and will be wanting to generate some coaching clients of her own...)

Let’s presume that Juliet has done the thinking about her projected business turnover for her first year in business, and has decided to go for the following model:

  • Three days a month associate work, at an approximate daily rate of £600
  • One day a month of her own client work, at an approximate daily rate of £1800

For her first year, Juliet like many new freelance trainers is hoping to generate her income via associate work and some work which she sources herself. As Juliet’s business matures, she is hoping to reduce her reliance on associate work by utilising relationships with established freelance trainers to increase the business she wins herself. As Juliet knows that her network and networking activities are the best way to win business, she decides to solely focus her marketing activities on networking. Therefore, Juliet’s networking goals are as follows:

  • Use my network to generate in 2013, three days a month of associate work which pays on average £600 a day
  • Use my network to generate in 2013, one day a month of my own client work, at day rates on average of £1800.

Now that you have your 'big' networking goals identified, it is time to consider the next stage to building your networking strategy - audit. This is where we take some time to review your current network and networking activities, to avoid the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Heather Townsend 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’, and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’. Heather regularly blogs at ‘Joined Up Networking’ and ‘How to make partner

Author Profile Picture
Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!