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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

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Networking Snobbery: Other Networkers Are Too Small To Refer Me

I heard this remark recently and it surprised me ...

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Posted by Jacky Sherman on 26/08/2020 @ 8:00AM

The person who made it networks in the same areas as me and I can think of several people immediately who operate in the same market as he does. He is a sole trader providing consultancy to the larger end of the SME market ...

A networking snob won't last long in most of the groups I know!

A networking snob won't last long in most of the groups I know!

copyright: bowie15 / 123rf stock photo

It is a fairly typical profile of someone who attends network groups; however, the remark is also a common complaint. So what's the real reason all these consultants are not recognising each other?

"Firstly, they are not telling each other who they work with. Sounds daft doesn't it?"

They all go networking, but the one thing they don't do is give a good description of their ideal client. They also rarely share who their existing clients are.

I can understand that where there are confidentiality issues, but otherwise, why not? Sharing your testimonials and naming the customers you work with enhances your credibility and that makes you more referable.

Secondly, of course, they might not be asking questions to find out who the other people in the room know. If the information is not volunteered then the assumption is that it doesn't exist.

Whilst with typical English reticence we might not ask outright "who are your clients?" how about asking "who are your ideal clients?" or just "who do you want to meet?".

Just maybe you could be first off the block and find a referral for them. That's a powerful motivator for someone to share further information with you and to want to reciprocate.

I think there is also a third reason though. They already believe that the people networking with them don't know the sort of people they want to meet. I think it is more common amongst those who have come out of a corporate background and find themselves in a room full of small business people.

"It's a kind of networking snobbery!"

Then they reinforce that belief by focusing on those in the room who don't have contacts in larger companies. How lovely to maintain your status by saying to yourself "See? I knew networking was a waste of my time! I'm used to operating at a far higher level". If you think that is unfair, just listen carefully to what people say to you when explaining their reasons for not networking.

At this point, I do have to mention that sometimes it is true for a particular group that there is no-one in the room who works with your type of client. I certainly advocate checking out the membership of any group before joining. However, do it with a broad and open mind.

Research a bit of the background of the members and ask questions. LinkedIn is perfect for that! You may get a surprise when you find out that the multi-level networker you have been writing off as a 'hobby business' used to be the PA to the Chairman of Acme PLC.

The last reason why you are not getting business from your network is that others don't know how to refer you and don't care enough about you to bother to find out.

Work on your networking skills and be humble enough to learn from others operating in the same milieu as you. They may have never been a big cheese in a large organisation, but my goodness, if they've survived a few years in a small business they are made of the right stuff.

"They're usually generous enough to help newcomers
settle in given the chance!"

Before any of my wonderful, kind, generous, warm-hearted fellow networkers think I'm picking on them, I'd like to pay tribute to the multitude of people who helped me learn how to play this game. They range from those who have always worked in small businesses to those who like me left the rat race behind them.

Thanks folks! Now, who do you want to meet?

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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About Jacky Sherman ...


I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.

What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.

Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.

So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.

In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.

What a fantastic way to earn a living!


07970 638857