Sunday, 9 October 2011

Network local- network global

This month I have a guest blog from author, Joanna Parfitt.  You may know her from her books "A Career in your Suitcase" or "EXPAT Entrepreneur".  She's recently written a book called "Sunshine Soup: Nourishing the Global Soul," a fictional look at the expat experience.  Jo shares with us her own networking journey.

Network local -network global

Over last 24 years I have lived overseas in five different countries. I have been following my husband from posting to posting and this has led us to Dubai, Oman, Norway, England and now the Netherlands. But even before we first went away in 1987 I was determined to keep my career alive. Despite having a family; despite stamps in my passport saying I was not allowed to work and despite refusing to learn the language and therefore being unable to work in the local market. Yet I have achieved my goal. How? Through networking.

Did you ever hear Steve Jobs’ speech about the paths we take through life and how we can only ever connect the dots when we look backwards? It was a bit like that for me too. It is only now, in retrospect, that I recognise that the key to my achievement has been networking.

Back in the 1990s, when we relocated I would be devastated to have to leave behind all the clients I had made and used to say that when we left the Middle East I threw my flipflops and all my business cards in the bin on our way to the airport.

However, my business is all about writing. If I were a stick of rock the word ‘writer’ would run through my core. And so I wrote ­– books, articles, copy. I taught writing. I wrote letters to friends and a Christmas letter once a year. I did my best to stay in touch. When the internet came along I jumped for joy and immediately began emailing people too.

In 1997 we returned to England for a while and this time my Apple Mac and email came too and I metamorphosised into a publisher, creating Summertime Publishing. I started running dual career workshops and wrote a book called A Career in Your Suitcase. It was around this time that I attended my first international women’s conference. Women on the Move, in Paris, changed my life. Now I was exposed to people who shared my interests, women like me, and who came from all over the world. Suddenly I found myself making friends, doing business with and selling books both locally and globally.

But still I did not get it.

We join the dots only when we look back, right?

As the new millennium dawned I heard a new phrase: ‘live local, act global’. It assonated nicely, and that appealed to the writer in me. So I took note. The penny dropped! If I wanted to run a business that did not have to get binned every time I moved. If I wanted a business that would actually grow despite the moves, then I needed to network locally and globally.

Writing is a solitary business and so I realised I needed to run workshops and find local clients in order to get me out of the house. I needed global clients who were ‘out there in cyberspace’ so that I always had a ready pool of possibility waiting for me wherever I may live in the world. Today, as I look through my current list of clients (and by clients I mean people who come to me for help writing and publishing their books on living abroad) 90% of them do not live where I do – The Hague. I also realise that 95% of them come to me by word of mouth. Without my local and global networks I would be dead in the water.

Here are my top ten tips for achieving this:

1.      Make friends, build relationships. Don’t actively look for clients, just make friends. You do business with people you like and importantly, with their friends.

2.      Be crystal clear about what you do and the kinds of  client you are looking for. Be easy to refer and those clients will come knocking on your cyberdoor, passed to you by those ‘friends’.

3.      Collect email addresses – every time you run a workshop or do a talk, attend a networking event or conference. Ask people to sign up to your newsletter via your website and then you can keep in touch with them. I send my Monthly Inspirer on the first of the month. It is now my ninth year.

4.      Blog  three times a week and be focused and appealing enough for people to want to follow you.

5.      Join Twitter and search for people like you to follow.

6.      Attend conferences where you will find people like you and ensure you run a workshop and get yourself a captive audience.

7.      Do a better than good job, excel yourself.

8.      Be active on other people’s blogs and forums so that their clients get to know about you.

9.      Write articles and guestposts and get your name out there. Write a book if you can!

10.  Give away a free report on your website to tempt people to sign up to your newsletter.

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt  - author of Sunshine Soup, nourishing the global soulAmazon. Find out more at, and