Networking Strategy for pre- & early-stage Startups + Small Business to succeed.
We asked experts to share some advice on how to do networking to benefit organizations.
Topics: Planning, which Events, Listen, Ask, Relevance, Prioritize, Balance Networking with developing Product.
Importance. Regardless of what kind of startup you’re building, networking will – in one way or another – play a role in the growth of your business. The extent, however, to which networking can influence your business depends on the type of product or service you’re offering. From validating an idea to finding potential partners, building the right relationships, can definitely help a startup get off the ground. Most people know this, but the difficulty usually comes in selecting events to attend and then actually getting out there. For those who are new to the world of networking, we spoke to some experts on the topic to provide some insight on how to approach this important aspect of entrepreneurship:
1) Make a Networking Plan. Time is money, so before you start filling your agenda with events for each night of the week, it’s best to sit down and think about your networking goals. Are you looking for a strategic partnership? Are you looking to meet investors? Or are you simply interested in learning about a new area related to your business? There’s a limit to the efficiency of networking and at a certain point, networking becomes really in-efficient & in-effective. It’s important in the beginning to ask yourself what your entrepreneurial objectives are, what kind of people would relate to those goals and then focus on that. Creating lists can also help in your organization. Make a list of all the events I’d like to go to, who’s managing those events. then I contact those people,”
2) Select which Events to attend. Sitting in front of your computer and sending out blind Email requests to contacts can only get you so far. Getting out there at events to meet people face-to-face can make a huge difference when building relationships. Choosing which events to attend, however, depends heavily on your company’s Networking Gals and how much time you have for Socializing. If you’re just starting out or new to these events, attending as many as possible within your areas of interests is good. Be very social when you start. On the other hand, if you’re more strapped for time and networking plays an important – but not key – role, in your business, it’s best to be more selective with attending events. Scanning the guest list ahead of time (if possible), can help. Look at events you plan to attend and see how many people you want to meet are going to be there, then choose an event to go to based on that. Once you have your pick of events, make sure you’re professionally dressed, ready with your Elevator Pitch & plenty of Business Cards to pass out.
3) Be “open” at the Event. For some, the idea of talking to strangers with a business goal in mind can be highly intimidating & frightnening. However, if you shift your mindset into thinking about Networking as simply getting to know new people – who probably want to get to know you – it could alleviate your anxieties about approaching others. Each person is a gift to you. They have something inside of them that will either teach you something or you can benefit from in a different way. Be positive & pleasant about meeting a new person and you’ll soon enjoy it.
4) Listen, Ask Questions, Listen. As much as networking is about you & your entrepreneurial goals, it’s also about the people you meet & their needs. So say what you need to say, but also take the time to listen attentively to others. Don’t just think about what you can get from other person. Think about what this particular person needs and how you can help them.
5) Evaluate & determine relevance of Relationships. When you first meet someone, it’s wise to determine whether the relationship can be tapped into immediately or further down the road. If it’s immediately, offer them something of value, in exchange for their time or wisdom. Most people don’t like to be approached, then told, you need them right away. For others, as possibly being helpful in the future, build relationships with them long-term either through good referrals or sharing thoughtful articles.
6) Prioritize your Contacts. Networking is most crucial when you don’t hardly know anyone. But once you’ve built a network, then you can chose who to spend most of your energy on – to build relationships. Then use these to acquire new relationships. At a some point, you might even look at your LinkedIn contacts and realise that you barely know these faces or names at all. Sometimes you know so many people, but you don’t really don’t know anyone. At that point, begin prioritizing what’s important to for a certain opportunity. Ask yourself what your goals are and what is important to you at the moment. Then keep in touch with that network more frequently. Everything else outside of that primary network, don’t tune them out, but keep in touch periodically.
7) Balance developing your Product & Networking. Remember that time spent networking means time not spent building your product/service. Striking a balance between the two is important. Allocate the time for Networking Events – according to the possible value gained..
Comments. Do you have any other tips on Networking for starting or growing your business? Let us know below.
from Tech Europe 7/16 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz