Many entrepreneurs find networking as a luxury that costs time, which they can’t afford to spend. The schedules of startup founders are swamped with endless tasks and even the thought of spending time for attending networking events looks like an impossible task. Time pressure is strong when you are trying to build a business, attract customers and still be able to get the attention of potential investors. It seems impossible to spend hours (not to mention a day or two) at a networking event. This is definitely the case for many founders who struggle to find the time to have lunch somewhere else than on their desk.
Time is limited yet learning how to prioritize can help you achieve great results without to compromise with the quality of your work. Networking plays important role in entrepreneurship and you should not underestimate the power of building strong support system of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, advisors and especially investors. Networking is useful only when it is strategically done. Through strategic networking you are able to sky rocket your business and to see many new opportunities along your way, so make the most of it by embracing the following four tips.
Make the most of every event
Many entrepreneurs say that networking events are a waste of time. Well, this is absolutely not true if you know how to make the most of the event. Being present is definitely not enough – you should get out there, approach the people appropriately and communicate effectively. By standing in the corner of the room or by sticking only with the people you know at the event, you are not going to achieve much. Seize the opportunity to meet with new people, listen to them actively and respond accordingly and you will soon feel the power of networking events.
Don’t underestimate anyone
Creating diverse networks are what entrepreneurs must aim for. Having specific goals to connect with certain people at the event that you are attending is a good strategy. It is important to do your research before the event and to see who will be attending, yet try not to limit yourself. Many entrepreneurs concentrate on meeting “the most important person at the event” and often they fail, because, well, everyone else wants to meet this person. Don’t waste the whole event on chasing one person, because you may miss the opportunity to connect with other talented entrepreneurs, who can be potential partners or team members. Don’t ignore journalists and bloggers, who can give press to your company. Don’t underestimate the young investors, who don’t have that impressive portfolio like the rest yet. Simply, be nice to everyone and don’t underestimate anyone.
Quality over quantity
Common mistake that entrepreneurs make at networking events is that they jump from person to person, engaging in short conversations and dealing out business cards. There is nothing wrong with giving business cards, of course, but it means nothing if the person does not remember the human behind the name printed on the card. To make the most of every event, don’t jump from conversation to conversation and bet on quality over quantity.
Strategic networking is great way to build new relationships with potential investors and partners. It is important that you keep the interest and the dialogue alive by following up after the meeting. Never underestimate the power of follow up email or phone call after the first meeting. Networking events gather likely-mined people together but it depends on you and only you to embrace the opportunity and make the most of the connections once the event is over.