As an entrepreneur, there’s plenty you need to do to keep your business going. From managing your finances to ensuring you are compliant with all the laws. You could hire plenty of people to help, or you could do something simple: engage in networking for entrepreneurs.
Networking for entrepreneurs is a vital part of entrepreneurship. As serial entrepreneur and businesswoman, Christine Comaford-Lynch said: “Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.” That comes with tremendous benefits, no matter how big or small your company.
It is not just for marketing, networking for entrepreneurs also has other advantages. A strong professional network is will not only help you achieve your goals, but also give you a vital support system. In fact, for entrepreneurs:
Your Network = Your Net Worth
Advantages of Networking for Entrepreneurs
Networking for entrepreneurs isn’t just about knowing people. It’s about knowing the right people. The right network can take you places, while the wrong one will only keep you down. Here are some other advantages of networking if done right:
- Business Becomes More Visible: The More you meet people and share your details, the more visibility your business gets. Word of mouth is the simplest, but most efficient form of marketing.
- Convert Leads into Clients: As you meet people, chances are you will find potential clients. Networking events are a good place to sell your idea, and convert leads into clients.
- Going in the Right Direction: Networking for entrepreneurs helps to ensure that your business is going in the right direction. Talking to industry experts will give help you understand what’s going on, and even spot opportunities you might not have seen.
- Opens New Doors: Meeting new people and industry experts will allow you to get access to some of the most exclusive people. That opens new doors for funding, partnerships and even employees.
- Learn, and Teach: Networking sessions are a good place to learn. You’ll be inspired by the success stories of your fellow entrepreneurs. You can also guide others based on your own experiences. Remember, you should always give back to the community!
How to Network Like a Pro
Now that you know why, the next step is the how. Networking for entrepreneurs can be tough, especially if you are new to the scene. Here are some tips to make it easier:
- Carry Your Business Card: Review 42 found that 68% of small business owners still find business cards useful. It may be traditional, but it still an effective technique. If you are events, always carry and give out your business cards.
- It is a Two-Way Street: Don’t always network to find solutions for only your problems. Networking is a two-way process: offer help and you will be offered plenty in return. Use your unique skills to guide others, it pays off well in the long term.
- Connect Regularly: If you want to be updated, then remember to connect regularly with your network. It could be something as simple as an exchange over LinkedIn, or even a phone call. When it is safe to do so, go out and meet your network.
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Go sit with complete strangers. The more people you get to know, the better your network. You might be comfortable with a few select people, but they won’t be enough if your business needs to thrive and grow.
- Explore New Avenues: Networking for entrepreneurs means casting a wide net. Don’t just stick to the few groups you know, go out and find new groups. Of course, LinkedIn is a great place to start, but also check out Facebook, HelloMeets, PartnerUp and Startup Nation.
- Get Social: If you want to impress your new connections, remember to have an active and impressive social presence. Update your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and remove any controversial content. You don’t want to lose funding because you are against masks (seriously, it does matter).
- Know Yourself: Always practice a 30 second elevator pitch, one that you can make to anyone and anywhere. First impressions tend to last a long time, so remember to know yourself and your business inside-out.
If you still need proof that networking for entrepreneurs is valuable, here are some numbers from Review 42:
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