Friday, February 23, 2007

Networking for Business Development, Part II of II

As with the previous article on the importance networking for those in career transition I would like to post some quotes from the article on the importance of networking for business development in case the owner of the site will one day decide to delete the article. Once again I want to stress that though the article is written for attorneys by attorneys it is very true for many other types of businesses, industries and professions. Please, note that comments in itallics are my personal observations:

“The basics - knowledge and expertise in a given area … - are a vital component of any client development activities. Once the basics are established, however, you have to distinguish yourself through relationships and contacts.”

“The foundation of building a client base through networking includes maintaining existing clients through expanded business relationships to better understand the client and meet its needs.”

“A second foundation of building a client base is the acquisition of new clients. A common denominator in both of these building blocks to growing and sustaining a successful law practice (or any other business for that matter) is acquiring and sustaining meaningful relationships with clients, potential clients and others who can refer you business”

“Networking must be the personal responsibility of each attorney. It involves maintaining regular contacts with clients, lawyers, industry leaders, and accountants (any other stakeholders relevant for your particular industry). Success is predicated on building relationships, making contacts and systematically working on business development each day. Networking is "building relationships with anyone who can help you grow your practice." Boress, Cummings & Schneider, Best Practices in Building Your Personal Network for Attorneys (Sage Law Marketing 2004).

“Experts agree that effective networking involves determining your networking purposes and goals. You should identify possible contacts and develop a plan to ensure building upon these contacts. Be involved with organizations in which your best contacts, potential clients and referral sources are involved. Determine one or two of the best organizations, whether national or local …, trade association or other gatherings of prospective referrals, and set a plan in motion to become active in the group's efforts.”

“Once you have identified the correct organizations to plug into, maximize your visibility. Opportunities include working on programs or membership initiatives. Identify a moribund committee and breathe new life into it. Take responsibility for a job that no one wants and do a great job with it. Identify a gap in the organization's programming or activities and develop a plan to address it.”

“Effective networking involves a commitment of time, energy, and resources to produce meaningful results. An attorney (or any other professional trying to build his/her business) must care for the network, including personal contact with clients and potential clients through e-mails, calls, newsletters, and visits. One commentator equates effective networking with a gardener caring for his or her garden. If you come across an article or case that may be of interest to a client or potential client, send it to them with a note pointing out the importance of the material. Remember client birthdays, acknowledge important achievements, or determine a client's favorite hobby or sports team. Use this information to build relationships. The fact that you are thinking about the client will pay huge dividends. In this light, the use of technology to care for and feed your network cannot be overstated.”

“Effective networking should include building relationships with other attorneys”. (i.e. your own colleagues in the industry) As you have the opportunity to send business to others you meet …, you likely will see an increase in the number of referrals that come in. When the referral does come to you, ensure that you follow up with a personal thank you note.”

“Networking is the very foundation of all business development activities. As a business development tool, it requires maintaining regular contact with people for the ultimate purpose of developing business. Effective networking involves defining possible contacts, determining your networking purpose, developing a plan of action, and committing the time and energy necessary to produce meaningful results. …Commence your networking activities by taking one action each day to initiate and maintain a business relationship. This may involve a note to a contact you saw at lunch or forwarding an article …to a colleague.... By constantly reaching out and nurturing existing relationships and establishing new professional relationships, you will position yourself in a stream of opportunities, resources, information and contacts that will pay dividends for years to come.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Networking for Business Development, Part I of II

In my last post I wrote about networking for those in career transition but once you find a job (and this is relevant not for all but for many job types) or start your own business networking is extremely important for business development.

Here is a great article by Timothy M. Lupinacci and Rhenda L. Barnes, both working in the legal field, called "EFFECTIVE NETWORKING FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: BUILDING CONTACTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY",

Though this article is written for lawyers by lawyers you can substitute a lot of occupations besides this one and the article will still ring true! If you are a tax accountant, financial advisor, IT specialist, marketing consultant, recruitment professional, sales representative (no matter what products or services you sell) or even a chiropractor, cosmetologist or a language tutor, etc. looking for new clients - this article is for you.

Of course, you might not do everything what is recommended there, say you won't probably take out your clients for expensive lunches, but you can deffinitely invite the prospective ones for a cup of coffee!

The selected abstracts from this article will follow.

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Monday, February 5, 2007

Networking for those in Career Transition, Part II of II

I realised that sometimes when you give a link to a great article it may not be there when people need it: it can simply be removed by the website owner. So to avoid the situation when the wonderful article I talked about in my January 21, 2007 post is lost (and all the valuable information with it), here are some important quotes from this article:

"Even if you aren't looking for a job, it is always important to keep adding to your network -- both inside and outside your industry. Why? Networking allows you to be in a position to win and be in with the decision makers who are making things happen. You can't take advantage of that unless you position yourself to win by staying in contact with your network."

"Go out of your way to meet every single person that you have the opportunity to meet. Meeting new people will be easier for some than for others, but it will be worth your while. If networking is hard for you, start on a smaller scale - but start! The other thing I must say is be genuine, because people know if you are a phony. For some, it may take reading books to learn to genuinely like and meet new people."

"Beware of networking errors. (1) Be sincere; (2) Don't ask for (or expect) payback; (3) Respect other people's time; (4) Follow through on promises; (5) Use special care with referred 'friends'; (6) Don't make disparaging jokes; (7) Err on the side of politeness and formality; (7) Don't wait to be properly introduced - practice a self-introduction; and (8) Say thank-you."

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