If you have attended a few networking events you might have noticed that they are mainly populated by independent coaches, consultants and small business owners. This is perfect if that’s the market you are hoping to promote your sets to, but what if you want to build your network of contacts in the corporate world?
Let’s confront it – most of the people you want to connect with are employees of a larger organisation. This is the case whether you are looking for senior executives, training managers or any other member of staff.
Employees think differently from self-employed people and business owners when it comes to networking. They have a job to do and probably don’t have enough time to do it, so networking is not high on their priority list unless they are thinking about making a career move.
These people have a corporate marketing department working hard to build the profile of the organisation, so unless they are working in the Sales or Business Development roles, they won’t be networking for leads in the same way that you might be.
They use most days fielding incoming calls and sorting by sales letter and promotional emails from people and organisations trying to promote their businesses, so they’re not likely to think, “I could do with meeting some prospective suppliers – I’ll go to this networking event.”
So if they’re not approaching networking in the same way as you, how do you get in front of these people?
Most people working in large organisations don’t go to ‘networking events’ unless they are looking for a job. Networking happens at industry conferences, seminars and training courses. People are introduced to one another at awards dinners, press launches and social events.
If you are looking to network your way into larger organisations adjust your strategy. Start to think like them. Position yourself so that you are invited to the same events that they attend.
Work your existing contacts and ask for specific introductions to a particular person in an organisation – websites like LinkedIn are useful for finding out who knows who. Be clear about what you want them to say when they make the introduction. Seek out the coaches and consultants you know who work with larger organisations and get to know them. Find out more about what they do and see if you can help them first, before asking whether they might be willing to consider you when they need an additional coach.
Above all, understand that it can take time already when you’ve been introduced to the right person. You do need to network in a slightly different way and have a longer-term strategy in mind, but if you start with the end in mind and are clear about what you are setting out to unprotected to you’ll have a much greater level of success.