Book review: Financial Times Guide to Business Networking by Heather Townsend

Want to know when it’s OK to hand out your business card?

Or how to improve your social media networking skills?

Participants on our Zoomly workshops often ask me about networking (privately, at the end, in a ‘can I just ask…?’ kind of way). So I thought it was about time I took a look at some of the resources and advice out there. Whilst this book’s not exactly new, it came very highly rated so I gave it a read, wondering if it would teach me anything I didn’t already know.

I’ve finished it with heaps of new ideas to apply, hence my recommendation that this book will help old hands and networking novices alike. Heather Townsend addresses both online and face-to-face networking. So if you’re great online but dread the idea of ‘working a room’ at an event, help is at hand. Likewise if you’re an old hand at conference and networking meetings you may find the online elements useful.


Things I like:


  • There are lots of tools to get stuck into. I particularly like the ‘opportunity score’, which is arrived at by looking at one’s credibility, personal brand, visibility and ‘social capital’. This quickly highlights areas that need attention.
  • Plenty of real-world examples illustrate key points; from the author’s own business and networking experience as well as other business people from a range of services.
  • The author clearly knows her stuff and provides nitty-gritty detail to help the reader decide which networking activities would suit them. For example, referral-generating networks (such as BNI) are covered, including how to get your pitch right, following up and whether or not such networks are for you. Other face-to-face networking opportunities are also covered, such as conferences, training workshops, professional networks and less formal meet-ups.
  • Good tips on social media too: I like the idea that the author only friends someone on FB is she’s had them to dinner at her house.
  • Each chapter ends with a list of action points to get the reader applying the tips and techniques.
  • Lots of suggested websites and further resources to find out more, including free downloads from the author’s site (registration required).


Things to watch out for:


  • The headers in the – very useful – opportunity score chart are switched round in the scoring section so it can be all too easy to stuff this up, and again when the chart appears later in the book.
  • There are some odd repetitions in the text in one or two places, which surprised me given the publisher.
  • Since the book was published there have been some changes in social media, such as no more Google Reader or LinkedIn Answers, and new channels have come along. However, the basic principles given are still very sound.

You can find this book on Amazon – just click here.

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