How to network (especially if you don’t like networking!)
In late 2003 I went on a stand up comedy course run by comedian James Cook at mac in Birmingham. Other than a couple of less than stellar open mic gigs, I didn’t pursue a career as a stand-up, but that course changed my life in a different way.
Another of the participants was Andy Bass. At the time he was starting a consultancy practice having just left academia. He wanted to deliver soft skills training to professional service firms. I was just about to leave Wragge & Co (not to do stand up, I hasten to add). What set out as a conversation about how to deliver skills training to law firms, turned into a longstanding friendship and valued collaboration.
We started to deliver workshops containing the material that is now in our jointly authored book, NetworkAbility: building your business one relationship at a time. When I moved back into working in the arts, we used the same material to support artists as they built their career, creatives as they built their practices and leaders as they built their organisations.
It’s important to know that, despite my seemingly outgoing nature, I’m not that keen on networking. Mostly because I’d rather be home frankly, pj’s on, watching trashy television. If I go to a networking event, I want to know I’ve spent my time well.
Or I don’t want to go to an event at all. But I definitely want to build business relationships – it’s how I get work. Almost exclusively by referral.
NetworkAbility is a practical guide that will change your networking practise, increase business resilience and build skills. It breaks down the process of building and developing strong business relationships into achievable steps. Most importantly it does so in a way that works for you – for your personality type. It is not a set of lessons in how to be more outgoing for introverts. And it does not solely rely on going to “networking events” and “working the room”. Who wants to go somewhere and be worked on, anyway?
This book is for people who run organisations, people who work for them, and people who want to work for or with them. So, that’s probably too broad – this book is for people who want to build business relationships while being authentic, without resort to cheesy gimmicks.