How to Create Your Own Professional Network

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realised how close they were to success when they gave up.

Thomas Edison

Ever envied another person for their connections, whatever the industry? Chances are they’ve put a lot of time and effort into building that flourishing professional network you covet!

In today’s competitive business environment, the power of networking cannot be emphasised enough. When an opportunity arises, you want to be the first choice in a colleague’s mind — or at least on the short-list.

If you find professional networking a little daunting, my five key tips can help.

1.    Quality communication

Business relationships are impacted by first impressions. Do you remember names, display an engaging demeanour, and engage in conversation easily? In terms of future opportunities, people generally choose to work with those who create a positive impression.

Choice of conversation topics is important, but keep in mind professional networking is not a presentation. Take the time to listen as well.

Quality non-verbal communication is also vital. Be aware of body language. Maintain eye contact and avoid unconscious indicators of boredom or disinterest such as yawning, fidgeting, and that old chestnut, constantly glancing at your mobile phone.

2.    Be aware of opportunities

Anyone can become a great connection, so never adopt a dismissive attitude. Be consistently polite. People are promoted and can change departments or companies. A negative first impression may prove damaging down the road.

3.    The social factor

Social engagement, a time-honoured aspect of professional networking, has the potential to return dividends. Lunches/dinners are prime opportunities for quality interaction. Volunteer to attend industry events, and network internally as well as externally.

Connections within the company are important. Instead of eating lunch with the same people every day, step outside your comfort zone and approach someone new.

4.    Effective time management

A common mistake when creating a professional network is to over-invest in connections with minimal strategic benefits. Research conducted by Business Networking Academy shows 75% of business people admit existing networks do not support the results they require.

Are you focusing on people likely to help make short-term and/or long-term goals a reality? If not, take a step back, evaluate, and devise a new strategy. Keep in mind the best business relationships are often reciprocal. Everyone wants to feel their time is being well spent.

5.    Maintain your connections

Making a professional connection is only the beginning. Next comes developing a business relationship. Aim to be memorable in a consistently positive way.

Social media, email, phone calls or meetings help you stay connected, but people prefer different levels of engagement, and understanding this is key to maintaining healthy networking relationships.

Building a strong professional network can deliver positive and far-reaching benefits for your career. Need some help? Our professional networking workshops can equip you with networking methodologies that work for you. Enrol today.

Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit &


Posted on November 28, 2017 .

The changing face of business: why networks are critical for success

Best results are often achieved well before you need a job, by consistently networking so that when you find yourself job-hunting you have a large network to work with – Erik Qualman

We live in a time where pretty much every single part of our lives can be conducted online. It’s kind of mind-boggling, but it’s entirely possible to run a business without setting foot outside your front door. However, like many other things in life, just because you can doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea!

I don’t think anyone would argue that we’re in an era of rapid change – competition is fierce, consumer expectations are higher than ever and technology is evolving all the time. This changing face of business means networks, and the personal connection they enable, are more important than ever.

Here are three reasons why building networks are so beneficial.

1.     Get better quality leads and referrals. Anyone who has tried to market a business online will know how hard it is to stand out among the general noise. Spending time building face-to-face networks lets you develop those all-important personal connections that mean if someone’s looking for what you have to offer you will be top of mind, even if you’re not top of the Google results.

2.     Tap into expertise you wouldn’t otherwise find. Business networking can bring you into contact with people who might not be your ideal client but who can help you grow your business in other ways. Partnerships, collaborative projects or even just plain old-fashioned advice are all crucial elements of success for any growing business.

3.     Build your profile in your industry. If you’re keen to build your brand and reputation in your industry, being a regular attendee at networking events is a great way to do it. Building in-person credibility lets you differentiate yourself from all those other online businesses out there. The better your reputation and the higher your profile, the more opportunities are likely to come your way.

With so much in business being done online now, the ability to make face-to-face connections and build personal relationships is one of the best ways to stand out, and get the edge over your competitors. Check out our courses to find out how.

Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit &

Posted on October 26, 2017 .

Don’t forget your Manners – How business etiquette can make or break the connection


"I love everything that's old, - old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine" Oliver Goldsmith

I just got off the phone with someone in an HR role that told me she makes hiring decisions based on your handshake. Admit it, we all do! We form impressions about people the second we meet them. Manners matter – so much more than you think!

You see, in the current business climate, networking is the most effective way of accessing and establishing meaningful connections.

Because there is no shortage of highly qualified and competent people out there, manners can make the difference between a successful and failed opportunity.

When seeking to be effective at networking, you should pay attention to common etiquette practices that can make or break the connection.

Introductory skills

Networking often involves meeting people that you’ve never met before. Always make sure you introduce unfamiliar people to each other when having a conversation. This helps break the ice and make all parties to the conversation more comfortable around each other. In addition, proper introductions make people feel valued and validated, regardless of their position.

In our training surveys, we have found than a staggering 87% of people have to include themselves in a conversation at a networking event. It is so rude to ignore someone standing there, so make sure you pause and include them before continuing your chat.

If you are being introduced to new people, always offer a firm and single handshake, followed by a smile and nod. A good handshake demonstrates confidence, politeness, and approachability.

Pleasantries are important

During and after a networking event, using appropriate pleasantries can go a long way. Always follow any requests with “please”, and you should also say “thank you” after such requests are fulfilled.

After the event, a thank you e-mail is very important, but a handwritten thank you card goes even further towards making you stand out from the rest. If you agreed to catch up, make sure you pick up the phone to arrange the meeting.

Appropriate Mobile phone manners

Advancements in technology and communications have made having a mobile phone a necessity. You should, however, learn how to use it in front of people, especially those who you’re networking with. Avoid texting or responding to emails within the main room of the event. In the case of urgent calls, excuse yourself and go somewhere quiet.

Proper listening skills

While pursuing an opportunity at a networking event, it can be tempting to talk too much as you try to demonstrate your qualifications and market yourself. However, always be prepared to listen actively to the other person.

Networking is about developing relationships, and a conversation is a two-way street. Avoid interrupting the other person, and respond to specific points/perspectives that they may present as well.

In case you missed my recent Talking Lifestyle radio interview with David Koch and Ed Phillips we discussed the importance of etiquette and some tips to make networking work better for you.


Understanding business etiquette at networking events is discussed in deeper detail at our Business Networking Skill Workshop. To learn more about this and gain other networking idea, enrol in one of our courses


Posted on September 29, 2017 .

Are you an active, accidental or strategic networker? And which one is best?

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. - Winston Churchill

There are many different types of networkers, but they will generally fall into the following categories – “active”, “accidental” or a very few that are “strategic”. All take a different approach to networking and will see very different outcomes as a result of their networking efforts.

Let’s take a look at the difference between the three.

Active networkers, as the name suggests, are very active in networking circles. They belong to multiple networking groups, attend as many events as they can, and invite and refer others to the events they think will benefit them. They tend to be quite assertive and take the time to talk to everyone at the events they attend.

On the other hand, an accidental networker has a more blasé and relaxed attitude towards networking. They attend meetings and events if it suits, and if they can’t make it, they don’t stress out about it. They are polite, and make conversation when the opportunity arises, but they don’t look for opportunities or blurt out their sales pitches to whoever is in earshot (not that that’s a good thing!).

Accidental networkers also don’t follow up with the contacts they make as diligently as active networkers. They figure if someone wants to contact them, they will be in touch. They spend less time preparing for events and prefer to just ‘wing it’ and go with the flow.

The best of the bunch and yet the one I come across least is a strategic networker. Someone who spends more time preparing for their events than most people. They prepare and plan what they will say, who they will use as testimonials and who they will refer. They take the time to research others who are likely to be at the events they attend, and zone in on the people they want to meet. They make introductions, ask for introductions, and always follow up at the right time in the right way.

So which category do you fall into? And which one yields the best results?

In my humble opinion, strategic networking works best. I think you can waste a lot of time and money networking – especially if it’s not aligned to the results you need. When you prepare well, put in 100% effort, speak to key people and follow up, you are more likely to be remembered, contacted and recommended.

Remember, like most soft skills, networking can be learned and improved.

Please join us to be more strategic and reap the rewards networking can provide to you, enroll in one of our networking workshops today.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit &


Posted on September 8, 2017 .

The key personality traits of an exceptional networker

One of the challenges in networking is everybody thinks it's making cold calls to strangers. Actually, it's the people who already have strong trust relationships with you, who know you're dedicated, smart, a team player, who can help you.
Reid Hoffman

If you are a business person or have a professional career, then you are a networker, whether you realise it or not. Whilst some struggle with networking and have to learn and practice the art, others find it a completely natural thing to do and excel at it effortlessly. Since 85% of jobs are filled via networking, isn’t it time you know more?  

So what makes those exceptional networkers so good at it? Is it an inherited trait? Have they been to a great networking course? Has their employer trained them?  

To truly master networking yourself, it helps to take a close look at those who do it well and adapt/ apply where you can. Here’s what they are good at: 

They’re savvy, and know who they need to know

Networking is about forming the right relationships. Throughout your career you will meet a lot of people. The people you invest in and maintain relationships with need to align with your ambitions and have the expertise and experience to be able to help you with your goals.  

They’re enthusiastic

They have a true passion and belief in what they do, so when they present to a room or speak about their work - they are genuine.  

They’re interested

They have a sincere interest in you and what you do. They’re not always just seeing how you can help them and what they can get out of you. It’s a two way street, and exceptional networkers love to give as much as they receive.  

They can listen

Great networking is not just about your 30-second sales spiel. Yes, a good networker will tell you about their work. But they will also take the time to keep quiet and listen in return. 

They give good referrals

One of the great things about having a strategic network of contacts is that you can refer your connections to others. Believe it or not, this has many benefits for you! Your connections will mention you when they get in touch with each other, and will keep you in mind to return the favour when another referral opportunity arises.  

Most of all, an exceptional networker is good at it because they do it a lot. Practice really does make perfect in the world of networking. If you need some help, consider Enrolling in one of our courses today to learn the art of networking and see for yourself how to do it like the pros.  

Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit &

Posted on June 28, 2017 .