Networking is a crucial marketing tool in the English language teaching sector: so what's your strategy?
"The number one thing is that when most people network they don't tend to strategise it. They don't tend to think about why they're doing it, where they're doing it, who they're networking, and what they're looking for from the activity. You've got to work out how to use your time as as efficiently as possible, and this is even more relevant to using social media networking," says Andy Lopata, author of two books on the subject.
Andy will be giving his advice on the best ways of using networking in the sector, whether for student recruitment, profile-raising or other business reasons, in the opening session at English UK's marketing conference on Friday 7 February. He's following that up with a very practical workshop during the day, so delegates can get specific answers on how to get networking to work even better in their particular circumstances.
Andy - called "Mr Network" by The Sun, was managing director of Business Referral Exchange for eight years, and now works with companies from the smallest up to NatWest, Merrill Lynch and Mastercard to help them get the best from networking.
He says: "If you know what you want to get out of networking, the questions about how, where and with who to do it are much easier to answer: everything else tends to stem from that. But a lot of people don't go through that.
"The nice thing is that developing relationships is not just going out handing out business cards but actually building relationships, getting to know people, getting to develop trust, and getting to the postioin where they want to help you, not begrudgingly, but want to.
Stemming from that I'm teaching people to sell through their network rather than to their network."
Andy says everyone involved in a network has to understand how to make the connections to support each other, and to get into the minds of everyone involved so that the network can provide the support each of them need.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, he says the starting point is to be helpful rather than to expect help. "You have to give something forward, rather than give it back," he says.
"You have to start by supporting the network or creating some assets, and then not look for help on a quid pro quo basis. The network is like a big machine with cogs and wheels turning. If you help someone else, someone else will support you and you all support each other. If you just work on a quid pro quo basis it's going to restrict your achievements."
While this approach seems a million miles away from that taken by bankers, for instance, Andy says it's the way the world is moving. "We are moving into an age of feminisation, more inclusive, with more empathy, being relational rather than transactional with material support. Having said that ultimately you do still want to benefit. I am not suggesting it's all altruisim. But you don't have to get results every step of the way. You know what your ultimate goal is, and this will help you."
Click here for more information on the English UK Marketing conference and register via our online booking system.
For more on information on Andy Lopata, visit his website at www.lopata.co.uk.
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