Networking for entrepreneurs
In the entrepreneurial field, networking is commonly defined as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. In a research output produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2016, it was indicated that at least 78% of the startups are in absolute need of networking to achieve success. This success is ensured in several ways. For instance, networking makes up a better personal profile with more relations and friendships. These networks add enviable input to the business through the opportunities, learning curve, ideas and the perspectives they contribute. Moreover, with proper networking in place, it becomes an undeniable source of inspiration for entrepreneurs. So Gigapreneur is here with seven ways to improve your networking.
Be part of communities
Networking requires you to leave your comfort zone. Communities that offer like-minded spaces are so important to the entrepreneur as well as the entrepreneurship. Join as many communities as you want and find time to get involved in the activities and events they promote. Concisely, be active and get noted. Such events will eventually become hotspots for further networking. They might also hold eminent people already thriving in the field you want to focus on. Even otherwise, by hosting people and ideas from varied backgrounds, such communities prompt one to think and act differently. For the same reason, try to be also part of virtual communities with worldwide reach. Such groups will hold better and more diverse ideas, methods and technologies than the ones you are acquainted with in your own habitat.
Social media platforms are the hottest thing for entrepreneurs right now. They are cost-effective ways to enhance networking and improve the visibility of your startup. Especially with most of these sites offering the feature of professional accounts, the entrepreneurial world is rushing to meet each other on such platforms. Therefore, no matter what your startup or idea is, be sure to vocalise it through Meta (our dear old Facebook), Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, LinkedIn and whatnot. Connect with your own tribe and be part of the virtual movement.
Try co-working Spaces
Today, co-working spaces offer a wider opportunity to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs over a break and coffee. They are places that are designed to accommodate people from different jobs or companies. Co-working spaces have become more active during the pandemic, with a lot of people taking a break from the laid back work from home lifestyle to engage in environments similar to formal workplaces. These spaces have also started attracting entrepreneurs on a large scale. They become arenas for exchanging contacts and making friendships with people from diverse backgrounds or professions. Therefore, joining such spaces might make you take a step closer to efficient networking.
Networking all the time
However, networking should not be limited to designated spaces and time. Network all the time and at all the places. That marriage of your second cousin and that town hall meeting you are forced to attend? The club where you go to finally have some fun? Make sure to convert those into spaces of casual networking. Entrepreneurship is not a ten to five job where the commitment gets over once the clock strikes twelve. So, take as well as make your own opportunities- day or night.
Make and maintain relationships.
Also, merely knowing doesn’t guarantee efficient networking. It is necessary to actively maintain the relationship. Spend time inquiring after them or try to bond over matters other than just your own business. This might be through simple gestures such as by inviting them for coffee or by sending across articles or sites they might be interested in. It is important to highlight the idea that you are interested in maintaining contact with them. Make sure you are not always contacting them because you need a favour.
However, some relations are just hard to maintain. That lucrative investor who is attending your community meeting for a mere 20 minutes? You might not probably be able to make them sit over a cup of coffee to pitch your ideas. So, be prepared with that one-minute introduction that will want the investor to wait an extra minute to hear your ideas. Even as networking might seem organic and natural, it is all about being prepared to take the best of what you are given at the time. So, be ready at all times with your business card and that compelling pitch only to strike when the right time comes.
Give and take
Lastly, the golden rule of networking is to give as much as you take. Networking is a two-way path. As much as they are interested in your ideas and business, they are not sharing their resources, information and contacts just to keep you afloat. You are part of their networking process as well and even if not immediately, you are expected to help them out in the same way. It is indeed a give and take.
Networking may or may not be fun. Especially if you are an introvert, the latter is most likely to be the case. Nevertheless, with the right networking in place, one is certain to reap at least the benefits that come along with it. So happy networking!