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Five ways to connect with others and grow your firm.

TO be a masterful networker, you don’t need to attend every event in town or schmooze with every person you meet. What you do need is a sustainable strategy.


Consider the following five steps for creating a successful networking strategy to grow your firm. The goal here is to connect with others in meaningful ways—ways that lead to success for both your business and theirs.

Know Your Target Audience

This may sound like an overly obvious point. Most people, though, don’t keep their target audience and goals in mind nearly as much as they should when networking. This is key. You need to have a clear picture in your mind of who exactly is your ideal client/client base. Clarity will allow you to detect when a good potential referral or referral source comes along (i.e. someone who has direct access to or influence with your target audience). Your strategy should start with a thorough team brainstorm. Put together a list of businesses, organizations, and individuals in your community who have pull with your target audience. Even if you have no current relationship, don’t leave any influential contact off this initial list.

Identify Key Influencers You Can Help

The next step is to streamline your list of influencers, and identify which businesses (or individuals) you can bring the most value to. That’s right. Networking is not all about “getting”; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Providing value is the best incentive you can offer these “influencers” to develop a relationship with you. The end result is that you will be top of mind when their clients require your services and expertise as a business leader. Keep in mind, the idea is to categorize the list by who you know and who you can benefit. I recommend building upon this list with your team as you develop more relationships and potential inroads to the people you don’t currently know. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding out who knows who.

Go Where the Chemistry Is

Like any relationship, if it is to be successful there needs to be chemistry. So pursue relationships from your target list and focus on the ones with whom you have a natural connection, mutual trust, and a shared target market. Be strategic about who on your team is able to develop the most solid relationship with any particular contact.

Be a Connector

As you move forward with approaching some of these potential contacts, introduce them to one another whenever it is mutually beneficial. For example, you might introduce a graphic designer to a programmer, a banker to an advisor, or a marketing expert to a business that requires their services. It’s a triple-win for everyone, especially for you if you’re seen as the “connector.”

Network Online and Off

Bring your networking approach everywhere you are—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Use hashtags and appropriate links on Twitter and Facebook to share and make introductions. Give “recommendations” and write “referrals” on LinkedIn. Taking a few moments to offer value to others is a simple step and it demonstrates that you’re both a thoughtful and motivated networker—the kind people tend to want to do business with.




About The Author

Mark Wardell is president of Wardell Professional Development Inc., an advisory group specializing in growth management for owner-managed companies.