Starting a business is not an easy task. Some believe that you will be fine as long as you have enough funding. While funding is important to the success of any business, it is not the only thing. There are other things that water can not buy. And this includes building your network. Having the right network may be, sometimes, worth than being giving money. This is why you need to know how to build your network as an entrepreneur.
Here are nine ways to build the right network and shine a new light on your business. This list is not exhaustive but you will surely find them useful.
1. When attending an event, always arrive early.
Whenever you are attending an event, plan to arrive early. Arriving early will help you to gauge the space, scan the people already there and brace yourself to meet new people. Also, you will have the opportunity to connect with people at the start of the event, Most people believe that this is the best time to network. This is because most attendees have not yet divided into groups, which make it easier to approach people and make conversation.
2. Ask open questions.
When having conversation with people and you need to ask questions, avoid questions that can easily be answered with a yes or no. Phrase your questions in a way that your conversation partners can share something appealing about themselves or their business. Open questions prompt discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in the conversation.
3. Make a good first impression.
A good first impression is a valuable asset because it can facilitate initial contact with people that you have marked as essential to your business. Being well-spoken is important. So, practice the core details explaining your business vision. In fact, master your elevation pitch. An elevator pitch is a short description of an idea, product or company that explains the concept in a way such that any listener can understand it in a short period of time. Most people have to practice this before they arrive at a version that captures who they are or their business. If you don’t get it the first time, don’t give up.
Also, avoid coming over clumsy when handing out your business cards. You can simply reserve one pocket, such as the inside of your jacket, for cards you receive, and reserve the outside jacket pockets for your own cards. Moreover, avoid drinking too much. Recent research suggests that people are more likely to go over their limit when drinking among large groups of people, such as at special events. So, watch it.
4. Focus on the needs of others first.
I can’t say this enough. Understanding the needs of your conversation partner before you tell them about your needs, can help you develop a relationship with the person. It also helps you formulate how you can best serve them. When you then speak to them, your presentation is already customized to what their specific needs are; thereby improving the chances they will remember you when you follow up. Also, if you reach out to the person, for some form of help, after the event, you are likely to get response.
5. Everyone is a relevant contact.
A business in its early startup phase has room to grow in unexpected directions. Leave time open for unexpected conversations with people who are not necessarily directly related to your business. With a broad network, you can be the link that connects people across industries. And the people you meet can also be the link to your business breakthrough.
6. Become a resource to others.
I am sure you are familiar with the phrase, “it is more blessed to give than to receive“. So, establish yourself as a resource by habitually introducing people to each other. It may seem counter-intuitive, but when other people consider you a resource, they remember to turn to you for ideas, suggestions or names of people. Connecting like-minded people also enhances the power of your own network by having more than one resource to turn to when you are in need. The people you help today might be the ones that will help you tomorrow. So, make use of this opportunity.
7. Get involved in the work of others.
Consider partnering up in projects or events that your conversation partner may be hosting. Working with someone gives them insight into who you are and can help you reinforce a positive relationship with them. You can also volunteer to help others in the events. Volunteering at their organisation’s event provides you with an opportunity to meet more influential members of their personnel.
8. Always remember to follow up.
Networking doesn’t end with a goodbye. Before you end your conversation, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people prefer specific ways to keep contact, such as email, phone or social networks like LinkedIn or even Facebook. Some experts suggest getting in touch within 48 hours is important to reinforce the relationship. Be sure to mention something you discussed or a reference made between the two of you in order to jog their memory.
9. Leave nothing to chance.
Finally, save time and energy by streamlining your activities. Before you attend any networking event, define what you are looking for in your network. For instance, answer the questions: “what industries or professionals will help your business?” Be proactive. You can even contact event organizers to ask about the list of attendees or companies who will be attending the event.
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