Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you the importance of networking. When it comes to growing your start-up, there is nothing like a leg up from a like-minded business founder.
If you are looking to network but have no idea how, we’ve got you covered with our top five tips to build the right relationships in your industry.
Know Your Pitch:
If anyone is going to know what you and your business is about, it should be you! You ought to be able to convey your ‘pitch’ in just a few sentences – letting your listener know the essence of your business without bogging them down with the details. If they are interested and want to know more, the conversation should stem from there!
Give Before You Ask:
It’s important to remember that, sometimes, you cannot expect someone to do something for you with nothing in return. A good way to begin a professional relationship is to have something to offer them first. Know what they are about and think of a way you can help them or benefit their business. It’s much easier to ask for something when you have already offered a favour.
Nurture Your Relationship:
It’s one thing to establish a relationship, but it’s just as important to maintain one; it’s vital to nurture your network circle. Keep in touch, congratulate them on successes and introduce them to like-minded contacts. Reminding them of you and your business means that you will be at the front of their mind should anything come up where they require your services.
Know How to Conduct a Conversation:
It might sound silly, but you’d be amazed by the number of people who completely forget how to hold a conversation when they come to networking. In the beginning it’s important to be open; ask a question to show you are interested in what they do or what they have to say. Try to have a topic prepared such as a book you’re currently reading or a story that happened to you the other week. Be clear and concise when you share a story; be sure that it has a punchline or a take-away message at the end or it will fizzle out.
Most importantly, don’t end a conversation abruptly or awkwardly. Allow for a lull in conversation and, looking them in the eye, tell them it was a pleasure to speak with them and that you’ll follow up on any key points you’ve spoken about. Making eye contact a final time before moving on lets them know that you aren’t running away and you value the time you just spent talking to them.
Remember the Details:
When you speak to someone, take note of the details they provide you. Do they have a daughter starting college soon? Maybe they are heading on holiday to the Bahamas the next day! Having an attention for such details can help you not only remember the person more easily, but it will prove to them that you were listening next time you meet. It provides you with a conversation starter and puts you in a position to further develop your relationship.
Remember, networking is more about developing a relationship and friendship. It’s about being genuine and trustworthy rather than constantly looking at how somebody else can benefit you.