You know the old adage of ‘ It’s not what you know it’s who you know’. Well as an entrepreneur you also know that both count a lot. Let’s face it your smart or you would not have thought about setting up on your own and leading others with you. But to get ahead you need to know the right people, know how to ask for the right things at the right time and ensure those you have asked do as they have promised. Networking is as old as man but as technology has changed the world so has the art of networking. The advice below is for face-to-face networking rather than for the online world but as you might expect, networking is networking however it is done. So a few tips ideas for you before you hit the ground running:
What Is It That You Want?
This might sound obvious but this is something that is really crucial with networking you need to understand what it is you really want or need. Are you looking for a cofounder, investors, customers, partners, advice? Only you know exactly but if you know what answers or outcomes you are after that will help you ask the right questions and speak to the right people.
Do Your Homework?
The truth is networking can be done anywhere just speak to the person next to you on train, plane, bus or coffee shop, after all, we are all connected but if you are going to a networking event work out who is going. Apps such as Meetup or Eventbrite will often tell you who has registered for an event so that will give you the opportunity work out who you really should try and say hi to.
What's the Pitch in 30 Secs?
It sounds cheesy but can you summarise what you do and your business in 30 seconds? Try it and if you can you are good to go. If you can’t sit down and write it out ensure you use language everyone can understand (avoid TLAs – three letter abbreviations) and make sure you have rehearsed saying it out loud.
Listen, No I Mean Listen
There is an old sales adage you have one mouth and two ears so you should do more listening that talking. Many an event I go to I meet people who just want to talk but don’t want to listen. If you are after help and support from people you have never met before it pays to listen first and then speak. Often you will meet someone and it will be very clear neither of you can help one another, at that point be polite and move on.
Do What You Said You Would
A mantra of one of my old bosses was ‘do what you say you would' it sounds trite but in networking terms, it isn't. If you want to build trust and credibility be a man or women of your word. Additionally be honest if your start-ups MVP isn’t ready, don’t tell a potential VC it is.
With the above in mind you have some concrete steps to start networking, and just remember fortune favours the brave!
Meet the Author – Marc Duke
Marc Duke is CMO In A Box, Start Up Marketer, Connector, Mentor, Coach and Non-Exec with about 20 years B2B marketing experience.
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