By Andy Lopata, Business Networking Strategist

In tough economic times it can be very tempting to market yourself as a generalist more than a specialist. After all, the more ways in which you can help prospective customers, the better chance there will be they will want to employ you. Isn't that right?

Perhaps not. In Networking with a Niche in my February 2010 blog, I talked about how having a clearly defined niche can help you network more effectively. That was illustrated to me recently.

I received an email with information about a company who were looking for trainers to work with large companies on a range of topics, including networking. I sent off an email outlining what I could offer and received an email soon after asking me what a 90 minute session to a group of employees would look like.

Five minutes after my subsequent reply the company called me and we had a very positive twenty minute conversation that will hopefully result in ongoing work and a flourishing partnership.

During the conversation I found out that they had received over 100 responses to their request for trainers.

"That's fantastic!" I said.

"Not really," came the response. "I haven't got the time to call 100 people and find out if they're suitable. Your email stood out from the crowd."

Naturally I wanted to know what made my email stand out. After all, if I'm doing something well, I want to make sure I keep on doing it.

"I’m a strong believer that you can’t be good at everything," said my contact. "I like working with people who have a ‘speciality’ in something and you clearly do in networking. Many trainers emailed me and said they could deliver on ‘anything’ and I wasn’t so keen on that. Many people might not agree with me but that is what I prefer".

While it may be tempting to put yourself out as the cure to all evils and jack of all trades, be aware that you may be seen as a master of none. Find your speciality, settle into a niche and market yourself around that.

It might mean saying 'no' to some work and missing out on others. But you'll stand out from the crowd when it really counts.

To find out more about how to pick the right networks, implement a successful networking strategy or how to generate more referrals, please visit our website www.lopata.co.uk or contact us at harvey@lopata.co.uk / 01992 450488.

Labelled ‘Mr Network’ by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called ‘one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists’ by the Financial Times. The co-author of two books on networking, Andy is a featured columnist in the US magazine ‘The National Networker’, as well as being regularly quoted in the national press.

Previously, Andy was Managing Director of UK network Business Referral Exchange. Andy has since worked with companies from one-man bands to organisations such as NatWest Bank, Merrill Lynch and Mastercard to help them realise the full potential from their networking. He is a former vice-president of the Professional Speakers Association.

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