How training consultants perceive their networking practices in relation to generating business
This thesis explores how training consultants perceive their networking practices in relation to generating business. The literature recognises the importance of networking to gain business, yet contains little research. Existing material is either quantitative research or personal accounts not within a research context. My qualitative research is based on interviews, informal conversations, personal construct psychology techniques, observation and reflection with 7 main contributors and through 45 other situations including my experiences as a training consultant. It draws on planned and spontaneounsa turallyo ccurrings ituations. Some results contribute to knowledge by bringing together dispersed items in the literature and revealing ways in which they apply to training consultants. These include networking strategies (eg forming consortia, networking as a subject expert, targeting a sector and networking with everyone). Other results confirm the literature which, for example, stresses the importance of trust. My research reveals ways in which training consultants can develop or lose trust. Other findings, not in the literature, make original contributions to knowledge, such as a strategy that involves networking with other providers. It emerged clearly that networking with another primary reason in mind such as self-development can be more effective in terms of gaining business. I found how training consultants can gain visibility, use the Internet to raise visibility, and that there is considerable backlash in the training world against consultants attending events to get to know potential clients. Some factors that lead to discomfort when training consultants network are identified such as dislike of cold calling, uncertainty over networking etiquette, problems with initially meeting people, reputation issues and lack of skill. I reveal the impact of congruency of behaviour, the way in which we look for similarity or difference and the way in which we maintain contact on building and maintaining rapport when networking to gain business.