Getting the Most Out of Networking
Getting the Most Out of Networking
The most valuable resource an entrepreneur has is time, so everything on your schedule should leverage those precious hours. In fact, asking how to connect with other entrepreneurs, potential clients, mentors or investors is not the question you should be asking. Rather, you should be focusing on why you want to connect with them in the first place.
The end goal of networking isn’t to be as connected to as many people as possible, it should be to focus on quality over quantity. In fact, many entrepreneurs go awry playing the volume game, grabbing several coffees a week and attending a multitude of social events at night – hoping to connect with as many shakers in the industry as possible. Instead, focus on these key strategies and watch your contact list grow with meaningful connections:
Understand WHO and WHY you need to connect with
The first step is nailing down the types of relationships you need and want to build. Are you looking to take your business to the next level? If the answer is yes, you will want to align yourself with others who have achieved similar goals that you’ve set for yourself and your business. Are you are looking to form connections with like-minded individuals that are currently in similar situations? This may allow you to share ideas and strategies around overcoming current obstacles and pain-points in the industry. Being clear on who you want to connect with, will help you map out your networking plans going forward.
WHAT do you bring to the relationship
It is good to clarify who you need to meet and have an idea about what you’d like to learn from them – but it is equally important to stop and ask yourself WHAT you feel that you can bring to the relationship as well. Will, you put the effort into bring our knowledge and skill-set? Will you be open to sharing your failures along with your successes, so others can learn from them? The quality of networking – simply put – is measured by what you contribute.
Now onto the HOW factor
Okay, you’ve put thought into, WHO, Why and What…it’s now time to focus on HOW you will cultivate these new relationships. First, you need to understand where these people are spending their valuable time.
You aren’t likely to find the CEO hanging out at Tim Hortons on a Saturday morning. That person is likely an earlier starter, making time for physical and mental well-being. If leveling up you’re A-game is a priority, you may find the corporate or entrepreneurial elite at the gym, bookstores, anything professional development related, attending new business launches or at high-stakes industry events. Their time is valuable, and they are pros at harnessing it.
If you are looking to connect with investors and learn what they are looking to fund, you can find them at new venture openings, speaking at panels across the city, or even on the golf course. They always have their eyes and ears open to the next big thing and getting in front of them to pitch and gain interest will have some work involved. They are wonderful at giving advice to the up and coming and can often be found multi-tasking.
If you’re looking to connect with those more in the day-to-day grind of building and working in the business, you will want to try chamber events, political functions, and cocktail hour at all the hotspots. This crowd is eager, competitive and wanting to know how to move up the ladder to success.
Wherever you decide to spend your time and whoever you connect with, it is important to take time regularly to evaluate if these relationships are working for you and helping you achieve your business and personal goals. Happy Networking!
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