Networking: do what you do best - just keep talking

CSP Chief executive Karen Middleton has been flying the physio flag, here she offers members some tips on networking.



Most people agree ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’. Yet we spend so much time learning about a subject and virtually no time learning how to network.

I haven’t met anyone who would say they ‘enjoy’ networking.  Who would enjoy walking into a room full of perfect strangers and starting up a conversation?  It is usually described as a ‘necessary evil’ and is about exerting influence. You do it for a purpose!

A few weeks ago, I spent three days at the NHS Confederation conference.  All the leading managers and leaders of the NHS and the wider healthcare system were there along with the chair of CSP, Sue Rees, vice-chair Catherine Pope, and deputy CEO Sue Browning.  We planned well before the event which days each of us would attend; which sessions would we go to; when we’d split up to network, who we wanted to target and  – crucially – why.

At the end of the day, it came down to having conversations.

It fascinates me that many physiotherapists, who are entirely comfortable talking about their work in a familiar physiotherapy or clinical context, find it hard to translate those skills into a broader healthcare context.

I too found this tough at first.  There is no doubt that it takes practice, but practise we must: CSP members talking to other CSP members about physiotherapy is not going to get us very far!

So here are some of my top tips:

  • briefly introduce yourself
  • ask who they are and why they are there. Immediately repeat their name – it helps with recall
  • talk about the small stuff; how they got here, the speaker you are looking forward to
  • build the relationship: you don’t have to go straight in with a deep and meaningful statement  
  • if the person is useful to you or you to them, exchange details. Have cards to hand, or save their number in your phone
  • develop a ‘get out’ strategy if you get stuck: you need to get a drink, you’ve just seen someone across the room
  • afterwards, follow up on any contacts quickly – remind them of when and where you met.

While CSP staff can influence on a national level, with your help, we also need you to do the influencing locally.  Workout at Work Day was an ideal opportunity to influence local planners and commissioners: it gave us all something tangible to talk about. 

Why not drop me an email about your local successes – and share your top networking tips? fl  You can email Karen at:​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Karen Middleton

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