Networking is an essential activity for any successful entrepreneur. However, while almost everybody networks and eagerly hits all the big events with a fistful of business cards, ultimately the success of any networking event hinges on making real and lasting connections with people who will help you identify and advance your business opportunity.
Preparation is the key to effective networking. If you aren’t prepared you can spend all of your time networking with people just like you, and end up with a lot of nice contacts but few that can really help your business.
Prepare by first identifying and selecting the right events to attend. Think about where you can meet potential mentors, partners, and investors who will be interested in you and your opportunity. Be selective and focused.
Next, prepare for any networking event by crystallizing what topical knowledge you have that will be of interest to the networking group. Knowledge, insight, and expertise are what you exchange with others as you network. Today’s currency for building long-lasting professional relations is specific expertise and unique knowledge. The more you determine ahead of time what you know and what you are passionate about, the more likely you are to truly connect with others.
Here’s a brief list of questions to consider before you attend any networking event:
•Is this the best place for me to meet those who will value what I know? •Is this the best place for me to meet those with knowledge that I need? •What do I specifically bring to share with others at this networking opportunity? •What am I looking to find at this networking opportunity? •As I make connections am I willing to invest in the relationship by sharing my knowledge and expertise with others?
Sounds simple but those who are the best at networking look first to offer what they know freely to others. Relationships are then quickly formed with those who will remember your name and will stay connected long after the social hour. And who knows, you might discover that one big idea that drives your business forward.
T. Craig Bott President and CEO Grow Utah Ventures Kaysville, Utah