The relationships we develop can be crucial and successful networking is one of the best ways to develop these.
The word ‘networking’ is often associated with a room full of strangers talking about business interspersed with comments about the weather and upcoming holidays.
So how do we uncover the real advantages of networking, and how can it be done successfully so it benefits both you and your clients?
Quite simply, networking (whether with your peers or others not directly in your own industry), can broaden your horizons, grow your knowledge and allow you to share this with your clients to help them achieve the best possible outcomes.
There are many great events to network within our own profession.
Professional bodies and networks are a good place to start when searching for events; they run annual conferences, along with quarterly regional conferences, breakfast sessions and symposiums.
I recently attended the Personal Finance Society festival and the words of Keith Richards, CEO of the Personal Finance Society, explained why networking is so important, as he said: “As a profession … it’s the cultural behaviours that will have one of the biggest impacts in the way that the rest perceive whether we’ve really moved from an industry of infighting and stone throwing to one of a profession that is united in its goals and aspirations.”
A recent report by the FCA supports this view when it stated: “Culture in financial services is widely accepted as a key root cause of the major conduct failings that have occurred within the industry in recent history, causing harm to both consumers and markets.”
“It is only by working together that we will be able to change this culture and truly change the perception of financial services in the UK.
However, we are all time-sensitive and may not be able to attend such events.
Whilst networking has long been established through social media sites such as LinkedIn, there is now an increasing emergence of online discussion forums, blogs and general information sharing.
All of these are a great way to share information and exchange views at a time that is right for you.
LinkedIn can also help you find networking events to match your interests.
It also does not all have to be through such formal events and forums.
Networking can be equally impactful through social gatherings.
A few weeks ago, I returned to an old employer of mine to take part in a charity quiz and it was a great chance to catch up with old colleagues both socially and from a business perspective.
Networking can be a bit like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it.
Nevertheless, many of us network without even thinking about it. And if you’re not – you should be.
Three top networking tips:
• Know what you want to get out of it in advance
o Do you want help with your business or to generate leads?
o How will it enhance your knowledge?
• Plan your conversations
o Encouraging the other person to tell you about themselves allows natural conversation
o Explain how you can help – nobody wants to hear your life story
• Be clear on next steps, and do it
o Add them on LinkedIn and re-connect regularly
o Allows you to build business relationships
Chloe Moran, Senior Paraplanner, 1825