I set up my training business over 6 years ago, and business has remained fairly constant in that time. I do a mixture of direct and associate work with (if I’m honest) associate work providing 60-70% of my assignments.
I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to shift that balance – initially aiming for 50-50. The driver for this isn’t money, it’s because I wanted to stretch myself and do new things, such as action learning and group coaching. So, I started networking to bring about that shift and find more direct clients.
I have to say that it didn’t bring a great deal of success until I started networking with other trainers. I started attending a networking group in Liverpool that was especially for trainers, coaches and HR people. In that group I found people who like me, have a ‘core offering’ (for me it’s bespoke design and business ghost writing), but want to provide a COMPLETE service to their clients.
I met a project management specialist. One of his clients was looking to integrate bespoke bite-size training into their organisation. NOT his area of expertise, but definitely mine. He put me in touch. Three meetings with the Operations Director later and I was running train the trainer workshops and providing bite-size sessions to them.
During these events I discovered that the Operations Director was pretty unsatisfied with the way their ILM accredited training was going. As a result of networking, I had met and built a relationship with someone who can offer just what they need, and now operates as one of my associates. Then, following a restructure, the business had to totally rethink the way it delivers training – a whole new approach was required, and they needed someone to facilitate a top-level strategy meeting. This is something that I thought I COULD do, but as it’s not my core offering, I decided to call upon a far more experienced facilitator as an associate (again, found via networking) to support me.
Not only did networking and building links with other trainers help me to find new business, it’s allowed me to RETAIN that business, AND grow my own skill set. I call that a result!