By Charlie Lawson (United Kingdom)

We are all told that we have to get our networking.  Perhaps it’s to bring in new clients, or to grow the business.  Maybe your boss has sent you networking.

Whichever it is, it is vital that you show some sort of return on your time invested in networking.  That return, by the way, can’t just be a stack of business cards!  We are in business: we’ve got to look at this in terms of the financial return.

To get a financial return, we need to be finding new clients. These new clients often won’t be people you meet at a networking event.  As we’ve just seen, the people in the room are just the tip of the iceberg: it’s the people who they know that we’ve got to get introductions to.

In networking terms, we call getting introduced to people ‘Referrals’.

A referral is an introduction to someone who is in the market for your product or service, and crucially, they are expecting your call.  It won’t necessarily lead to business: you’ve still got to go and sell yourself as to any other potential new client.

Source: iCN Issue 9 (Sales Coaching); pages 46-47

About Charlie Lawson

Charlie Lawson is a networking expert and author of The Unnatural Networker. He is also the UK and Ireland director of BNI, the world’s largest networking referral organisation. He helps fellow entrepreneurs who are struggling to find networking confidence. For more information, visit