Let’s cut to the chase. Why do you need a network? Because your network is your market.

Every day many professional service providers wrestle with how to develop new business — not because of inferior work product or poor client service; but because their network is not large enough to supply the connections, generate the referrals, and open the doors to new work on a sustained basis.

If you don’t have a list of specific targets — the names of individuals that connect you in some way to the real possibility of new work — your network is likely an issue. But it is not an insurmountable problem. Construct a plan that focuses on identifying, growing and cultivating connections with these three types of individuals:

  • Those able to hire you;
  • Those able to introduce, recommend or refer you;
  • Those able to coach you…providing intel that strengthens other aspects of your network.

Meaningful networking isn’t necessarily about social media, working a room of strangers, banquet chicken and happy hours. It is about taking the time to consider which individuals put you ever closer to the individuals able to hire you…and executing a plan of action that connects you to this group of individuals.

So if you’re not sure where next week’s work will come from — if you’re basically waiting on the next phone call and hoping the market finds you, consider the upside of focusing on individuals that connect you to work.

Build relevant connections — through social media, memberships, events and one-on-one conversations, and through the use of any other available tools — and, whether you call it this or not, you’re executing a plan that will grow a network, and create a pipeline of future business.