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Put your network to work

Date: Aug 18 2012

It’s been nearly two years since I first started working for myself. I thought I’d share some of my experience, what works, what doesn’t and more. Here’s my view on ‘real’ networking, not social.

Everyone knows that networking is vital to business. We live in a world where it really is about who you know and not just what you know. So much so, there’s a whole industry around networking. In fact there are so many groups to choose from it’s difficult to know where to start. Some charge a membership, some are just breakfast clubs, some are associated to chambers of commerce or the federation of small business, you name it there’s a group for it.

To be honest I was and still am a bit skeptical of the value of some these groups for a Freelance PR Consultant like me. My brief experience of some of these groups was that they were either there to make money for the organiser, they were organised by a marketing company looking to pick up business  or it was a little like a regular meeting for good business friends.

My budget for membership is taken up with the Chartered Institution of Public Relations – which I really value. I wasn’t looking to compete with established marketing agencies and relationships, or fight for business on an uneven playing field, or spend a disproportionate amount of time convincing someone they need PR before they decide to do any work. I don’t have the capacity for that.  So I decided to take a different approach and combine ‘my networking’ with my pro-bono work and existing contacts.

I use a mix of networking with other PR professionals and working with charities and other local organisations which need communication support. That way I make new contacts as well as nurture my old ones, and I get to do what I love for some projects I care about. My approach to networking works for me.