This article is about the process of assessing and developing your professional network so
that you are able to effectively develop yourself and your business. It is a methodology that
will create for you infinitely developing opportunities.
This article is not in any way a measure of what makes a good or poor professional network
or networking group. Every networking group, without exception, provides value and
opportunity and it is up to us as individuals and businesses to make sure we are working the
formula to its best effect.
Here I will share with you the Five Steps of Assessment you can use in your professional
networking activities so that you can access the networks of others in order to reach your
target market, whatever that may be now, and whatever you may want it to be in the
future. This methodology applies each time you want to take a growth step in your business.
Before we begin, there are two further points to note;
1. Most professional networks contain people with ‘random access to your target
market’. By that I mean they do business and refer business when the need or
opportunity arises. A group of people with ‘regular access to your target market’ is
the beginning of an effective Referral Marketing Strategy and is beyond the scope of
this article. When you are ready for this pinnacle level, please contact me.
2. Social networking. Again, the scope of this article excludes us from exploring the
value social networking brings. This style of network, whilst still professional, is most
often characterised as having a strong community or social service element.
Here are the Five Steps of Assessment, we will explore each in summary, please contact me
for a fuller and more detailed explanation, and how you can implement each step.
When participating in a professional network, ask yourself these questions;
1. Can I do business directly with the people here?
2. Can these people introduce or refer me to others?
3. Will these people take action either directly with me, or indirectly on my behalf?
4. Do these people have reach into my target market?
5. Are these people credible in their own target market?
Let’s explore the implications of each of these steps, and how you can plan to increase your
productivity through professional networking.
If you are currently answering ‘yes’ at least to the first two or three, you are probably in the
right place for what you want now.
Step 1 – Needs little explanation I feel and is where most people begin. Simply put, do these
people have a product or service that I need now or in the future, and do I have a product or
service that they need or want. You may notice that that this style of network has a high
turnover, is low impact, and is primarily transactional.
Step 2 – Most people have a desire to help each other. My advice is to make sure you are
investing enough time with your colleagues so that they have a full understanding of who
you are, what you stand for and what you do. Only when others understand you, will they
be able to introduce you. You may notice that this style of network often has a formula that
encourages one to one time with fellow members.
Step 3 – Being completely honest, neither Step 1 or Step 2 matter if we cannot answer ‘yes’
with conviction, to Step 3. I have found the biggest barrier to Step 3 is trust. We may have a
full understanding of what each other does, but if trust does not exist, no amount of
knowledge is going to motivate you to act on someone’s behalf. The answer? Constantly
and consistently deliver on your promises both explicit and implied.
Step 4 – This level unlocks infinite growth. Each step in the evolution of your business, each
time you want to open new markets, have a new product or service to offer, you should ask
the Step 4 question. It may be that the networks in which you participate do have reach into
your new target market, but that may not always be the case.
One of the most obvious ‘red flags’ for me is when we begin to find it a challenge to sell our
new product into our current market, we often end up reducing our prices to match our
network when in fact we should be finding a new network to match our prices.
This is one of several key mindset changes needed to unlock infinite growth, contact me for
Step 5 – Credibility, ours and that of others, has to be one of our top priorities. I have briefly
explored trustworthiness in Step 3 and in all our professional networks we must have a level
of credibility that our prospects cannot question. If those we are asking to introduce and
refer us are not credible themselves, the opportunities for business we are asking for will
never materialise, or at the very least be equally time and resource hungry as any usual
transaction in our business.
I hope by sharing these insights, I have shown you a way for you to use professional
networking as a way to support the growth, expansion and evolution of your business.
Remember, it may not be just your target market that is evolving, it can just as easily be
your own personal development. Either way, I have found these Five Steps to always
provide a sound basis for the continuing assessment of our professional networking
If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice on making your networking more productive, contact our expert* Mark on LinkedIn.
*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.