Networking. Everyone does it but how do you do it well?
Many people believe that networking during a job search or in business means calling everyone and asking them for a job or a contract. Many people associate networking with being pushy or worse still over bearing.
Some people tend to hide away from networking because they don’t want to be labelled as this type of person.
Networking is a two way street, it is a way of getting to know someone better and finding ways they might be able to help you and how you can help them in return.
The most valuable resource an entrepreneur has is time, so everything on your schedule should leverage those precious hours. In fact, asking how to connect with other entrepreneurs, clients, mentors or investors is not the question you should be asking. Rather, you should be focusing on why you want to connect with them in the first place.
Strategy For Future Networking
1. Nurture Your Existing Relationships.
People who have worked with you in the past --colleagues, classmates, teammates -- can attest to your substance and skills and can help make things happen for you faster than new acquaintances. Do your best to stay in touch with these contacts for the long haul as it's not who you know but who knows what you can do. You never know when you might be able to tap into them to share an idea or opportunity.
2. Do Your Homework.
There are countless outlets for cultivating new relationships: formal conventions, small seminars and low-key meet-ups, to name a few. But before you get in front of a new crowd, do a bit of research as to the leaders, membership and goals of the organisation. Then use your time at the event wisely, identifying mutually beneficial projects to collaborate on right away. Working with others, as opposed to just “happy-houring” with them, cements deeper,
more lasting bonds.
3. Ask Questions.
Part of networking is having the humility to listen more than you speak. So don’t be afraid to raise your hand, ask a compelling question and start a dialogue. Allow someone else to be the authority. Most people are delighted to be seen as experts in their fields.
4. Know Your Story And Make It Stand Out.
People respond more favourably and more immediately to entrepreneurs who can articulate a company’s trajectory in a compelling narrative. So, when you’re asking new networks for help be prepared to dazzle them with both your concept and conviction. If you don't believe
in yourself, then the people you network with won't believe in you.
5. Make Every Conversation Personal.
Human nature compels us to surround ourselves with people we like, so be friendly and don’t make it all about business, especially during the first couple of interactions. My business partner and I met sitting next to each other at a dinner. He had just sold his first company, and I was working as a Neighbourhood Renewal Adviser in the Office of Deputy Prime Minister. But what sparked our dialogue was that we were both of Jamaican heritage.
We stayed in touch, and that friendship led, years later, to multiple business partnerships.
6. Pay It Forward.
Think of ways you can give back to your fellow entrepreneurs, too, whether it’s a fresh point-of-view, relevant industry articles, pivotal introductions or acting as trusted sounding board. People wanted to help me with my professional life (founding Teach Consultancy ) because I was helping others in my personal life (founding a business network for first-