Here at EC, we’re huge advocates for the power of networking. Building a strong network is essential if you want your startup to succeed and for you, personally, to grow professionally. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you’d never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base. However, it’s obvious that many people don’t understand how to properly network. There’s a number of do’s and don’t’s when it comes to building a community of support around you. So if you need help with building a network, check out our top networking tips for entrepreneurs to build strong connections:
Offer your help first
Out of all of our networking tips for entrepreneurs, this is probably one of the most important. Building a strong network is rooted in reciprocity. Many individuals come into a networking event with a problem or challenge they’re facing and immediately seek answers from others. When you meet people, ask questions and discover how you can provide value to them first, instead of the other way around. Ask yourself what you can bring to the table, and share tips with others to be helpful. When you give advice, it’s much more likely to be reciprocated
“If you want to make a connection with a new contact, especially a very busy one, the quickest way is to arouse that person’s curiosity with something unexpected.”
Be genuinely interesting
If you want to make a connection with a new contact, especially a very busy one, the quickest way is to arouse that person’s curiosity with something unexpected. Once you have found a topic the other person may be interested in and you can offer advice on, present a solution by telling a story about how you helped other in a similar situation. Tell them about your problem and how you solved it, but keep it short and sweet. Start by telling them about the problem and then your solution. Telling interesting stories about your success is bound to get you some attention!
Network with good intentions
Networking should be rooted in building relationships rather than investment. This is an important networking tip for entrepreneurs. A good networker builds relationships for the future. Your main networking goal should be to build a relationship and establish rapport so when a potential opportunity may arise in the future, your contact may be willing to offer help.
“Time is money and people are never happy with someone that takes up too much of their time.”
Don’t take up too much of their time.
Time is money and people are never happy with someone that takes up too much of their time. By planning out your meeting ahead of time, you establish your professionalism, gain credibility and cover all the critical topics you wanted to cover.
Have (or find) a reason to follow up
Establishing a good rapport with someone doesn’t happen in 5 minutes. Building a strong relationship takes time, so find a reason to follow up with them. If you see a piece of news that adds to the discussion you had, send it across to them. Add a note to say how you think the article could benefit them. Over the course of a year, you should aim to find at least three opportunities to reconnect with your network. But remember to not over-do it. Finding the perfect balance between forgettable and annoying is essential.
“Keep notes on what you learn about your contacts so your future correspondence can have a personalised touch.”
Always Be Courteous & Genuine
Building a network is about creating a genuine, caring relationship. Thank your connection for the information they have given and see if you can help them in any way. Share any knowledge you feel would be useful for them. Keep notes on what you learn about your contacts so your future correspondence can have a personalised touch.
The last of our networking tips for entrepreneurs is just as important as the previous ones. Social Media presence is essential – especially LinkedIn. Use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to produce, comment on and engage with relevant industry content to build trust among your followers. You’ll also generate inbound networking — contacts will find and reach out to you, so you’ll spend less time having to actively seek more contacts.