Entrepreneurship is all about networking

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Networking is an essential skill for most business people, but especially for entrepreneurs, it is a de-facto requirement. The strong association between the entrepreneur as a person and his/her business demands that entrepreneurs get out into the world and create and maintain business relationships.

 

Book by Anne Barber and Lynne “Make your contacts count” has talked about building your network via following channels:

  • Allies – Who are committed to help you succeed in your venture
  • Advocates – Who will provide opportunities for your success.
  • Actors – Who will exchange valuable information for your venture
  • Associates – Who share membership of a group (like sandbox or any entrepreneurial group or TiE – The indus Entrepreneurs).
  • Acquaintances – People met through a contact and sometime they are bridge for network with advocates, actors, etc.
  • Accidents – The people who you met accidentally and will never see each to other again.



 

The social networking tools like LinkedIn is very effective in increasing your network and keeping in touch with them. Via LinkedIn find out the person you are interested to make the connection. Analyze how he/she is connected with you. Using 1st level and 2nd level introduction one can reach to potential angel investors, advisors, board of directors, lawyers, potential co-founders, etc. For further information about use of LinkedIn as professional networking tool please follow the blog by Guy KawasakiHow to change the world: Ten ways to use the LinkedIn.

 

To increase the allies and advocates in your network following four simple rules can be useful in building your network and making effective use of it.

  1. Take part in right choices of events: It is all about where you go, which event you attend, and whom you network with. So, it I important to make right choices about these things. Choose networking events directly related and closely associated with your business goals. Events where your potential clients, future partners and associates, and where your presence can be easily noticed are helpful. It is also important to choose your contacts. Instead of having huge number of contacts, many of whom may actually never be used, it is better to have a few good relationships, which have the potential to actually turn out to be useful when needed.
  2. First impression may not be the last, but indeed the most important: This is also the first step to making good relationships with the people who matter, in business and otherwise. Being attentive to the other person is the most critical part of making good first impression. Be interested, enthusiastic, and sincere in your rendezvous. Good body language and etiquettes are great add-ons. Firm hand shake, eye contact, a sincere smile, etc. are great aids to this measure. Keen listening skills, understanding the person beyond his/her words, participation in the conversation in a positive manner, and remembering names also help a great deal.
  3. Concrete conversations: These are crucial for the people you are interacting with you to understand you. Know to state clearly about your work, your expectations, and be prepared to elaborate and explain well when needed. But, keep a concise, clear and concrete introduction handy. Rehearse several times, but keep the delivery natural and open ended. Be receptive and try to take back something from each conversation.
  4. After-conversations:What you do after the conversations makes the difference between you and someone who did not follow up after the conversation.
    1. Typically the next day after the event send the hand written card to the people you met along with your business card. Write about the meeting and conversation during the interaction and convey your interest to keep in touch.
    2. About two weeks later contact the person and arrange the meeting on a coffee or lunch. It will help you to know more about their business and get the opportunity to know about the challenges they faced or facing and how you could help them. It’s a relationship building meeting and NOT the sales call. The more you network, more people will know about you and your business and more the trust will build up. It will subsequently lead to referral to someone really helpful or opportunity to work with them
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