Is your networking activity working for you?

Heather Townsend
The Excedia Group
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If you sell a product or a service to business, joining a networking group can be a fantastic way to grow your business. Before we go any further, let’s counteract a myth – networking is not about selling. How many times have you been at a networking event, and been sold to? Like many people, I’ve suffered as well – and let’s just say their business card hasn’t made it into my new business card organiser. To really hammer home the benefit of networking, 80% of opportunities will come to you from people you already know. You have to remember that when you are talking to someone, that you may not be talking to the end user of your product or service.

The main purpose of networking is to attract opportunities. What I mean by this is that other people refer your services on. There are four ways to attract opportunities:

1)      Get known

2)      Give into the relationship

3)      Keep in touch

4)      Be seen in the right places

There are many different ways of getting known – for example, writing articles or a blog, run a seminar, meet up with people. If you keep on doing these things you will start to get known. However, you need to be doing more than getting known – you to be getting known for the right things. I.e. excellent product or quality of service, really helpful person…

One of the best ways to get known for the right reasons is to be prepared to give into the relationship. This could be sharing information – e.g. circulating interesting articles, inviting people to events as your guest, paying for coffee, giving advice (for free), connecting people together.

To get the referral you need to be top of your contact’s mind. That means you need to keep in touch. When you are thinking about whom to refer someone onto – do you remember the person who has most recently been in touch, or the person you haven’t heard from for the last six months?

There are a plethora of networking groups, clubs and organisations out there. As well as picking a group which reflects your personal preferences and values, you need to think about the group’s membership. If your business model requires you to be mixing with executives of medium to large corporations, then a local business networking group is unlikely to enable you to directly attract referrals and opportunities. I.e. you need to be seen in the right places. As well as physically mixing with the right crowd your literature – be it PR, advertisements or articles need to be in the places where your target market are reading.

Heather Townsend is the driving force behind The Efficiency Coach and a co-founder of 'the executive village' -
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About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is a brand ambassador for the Practice Excellence Programme, and the Founder of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 4 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).

Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.

Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms. 

In 2016 her and her team of coaches have coached:

1) 7 people successfully to partner

2) Professionals from all of the Big 4, from every major continent in the world


As well as helping accountants make partner, she still spends 40% of her time helping small firms, typically under £1m GRF:

1) Create profitable revenue streams from advisory services and reduce their reliance on revenue from compliance services

2) Radically increase their profitability, even if they are a cloud based practice, often helping them achieve a net profit margin of 40%+

3) Double or even triple the size of their practice within 3 years

4) Win bigger and better clients

5) Grow the right team around them so they stop working stupidly high hours and spend quality time with the people they care about

Her articles appear regularly in the UK national and trade press, including The Financial Times, Accountancy Age, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. Heather is also in-demand for her speaking and has recently returned from the South African Accountancy Academy conference.


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