How to Build a Network for Entrepreneurs | 7 Small Steps to Networking
Becoming an entrepreneur is one heck of a journey, and if you think you can manage it all on your own, then you’re in for a big mistake. So if you’re starting fresh with a startup, support and guidance from talented and experienced entrepreneurs will play a crucial role in helping you out. This support can come from contractors, strategic partners, interns, previous employers and even your family and friends.
But this is not where it ends; you’ll also need somebody who can challenge your ideas and help you see the other side of the picture, such as with the advice of serial entrepreneurs and angel investors. These invaluable pieces of knowledge can set the stage for your future endeavours and help you achieve your goals.
There is no doubt that in becoming a part of an organization that supports entrepreneurs has numerous benefits. Regardless of what stage you’re at in your entrepreneurial journey, these organizations provide you with an opportunity to connect with like-minded people. Sharing each other’s experiences and solutions to potential challenges will ensure the longevity of your startup, which is the most important ingredient to be successful.
Let’s look at these seven simple and small steps which I have summed up for all you aspiring entrepreneurs out there!
1. Become a helping hand
Always remember, if you want to be helped you’ve got to be of some help in the first place. Good things don’t come easy; many individuals make the mistake of throwing a challenge or a problem immediately after coming to a networking event in hopes of looking for an answer. In fact, in most cases, it is the only reason for joining an event in the first place.
When you’re looking to building lasting connections, make sure that you bring some value to the table before going the other way around. Ask questions and explore what good is it that you can offer. Share your experiences and whatever insights that you may have gathered to help others. When you offer advice, there are high chances of the same to be reciprocated.
2. Are you a social butterfly?
If you’re reluctant to join online social platforms, then aiming for a startup can only be as real as a dream. Social media existence is part and parcel of building entrepreneurial connections. Use platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the likes to engage via comments and threads with relevant industry and business content to generate trust among the people who start following you. Once you have created an online profile that’s good enough to attract people, then you don’t even have to worry too much about actively seeking more contacts yourself. The contacts will themselves find and reach out to you.
3. Share your story
Creating a narrative can always be very engaging. People love to hear stories of others around them, and if that’s a compelling one, then you’ve earned yourself a bonus. A critical part of building a network is to make connections with people who are a little more renowned than you are. Perhaps using the local media can also be one of the tools in sharing your story across regions. Paul Koulogeorge, vice president of marketing, advertising and PR, Goddard Systems Inc., suggests building relationships with your local media. He recommends reaching out to them as they can help you to tell your story at a much larger scale.
4. Create marketing partners
Smart entrepreneurs invite their customers to become their marketing partners. Spreading the positive word of mouth through your most loyal and enthusiastic customers can make a big difference for your prospects. Your existing customers can show and tell potential clients about your product value and organically bring more leads to the business.
5. Never forget your old connections
In the quest more building new connections, we often tend to lose out on the ones that are already with us for a long time. As an entrepreneur, this is the last thing you would want to do. Why? Because if you can’t retain your previous relationships, how can you even think of making new ones and be successful at it. If you work on your old contacts, they can might as well, later on, convert into your business partners and develop your career through their possible referrals or may even become one of your biggest clients.
6. Offer your product samples
What could be better than knowing your consumer’s feedback then and there? Nothing! But of course, this can only happen if you’re always ready to offer your samples to the people around you. You don’t have to push it down on them, but offering a polite sampling gesture wouldn’t hurt anyone.
7. Become a part of your local entrepreneurs’ community
For an entrepreneur, his or her startup’s success depends on the amount of time spent on going to the right events, meeting the right people and making timely connections. The sooner you realize this, the better. Make a habit of participating in and attending relevant expos and conferences. Join advisory committees and get yourself out there! Please don’t wait for people to come to because it will never happen. Putting your time and energy are two critical ingredients for warranting your efforts with an outcome of success.
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Sadia Mehfooz Khan
Chief Copywriter | Ylemer