Networking is one of the lifeblood of maintaining long-term and valuable relationships. No matter whom you are or what stage you are in life, networking is the one skill that every entrepreneur needs to master.
Whether it’s learning or making potential business alliances, networking is the social catalyst for success. The art of networking is not just at the start of creation, but in establishing and sustaining a mutually beneficial relationship in the long-run.Networking is an essential part of building wealth. - Armstrong Williams Click To Tweet
The best networking process comes from establishing genuine and sincere connections rather than exchanging business cards and business pleasantries.
Below, we share some of the tips on becoming a “Power networker?”
Attend Community Events
Get to identify and attend events within your ecosystem that are relevant to your field. Startup events are spread out around the continent and in all the major cities. Cape Town, Durban, Lagos and Nairobi are some of the main cities that host the most entrepreneur focussed events.
It is also very important to research and find what kind of event it is. Not all entrepreneur-focused event is meant for you as a founder. If you are in the farming business, it may not be wise to attend cybersecurity event.
Create a Plan
For you to be effective, you have to create a plan before attending any event. Research the kind people attending the event. From the list of speakers, you can have an idea of the kind of people whom you will need to connect with.
Most of the time, we would want to connect with most successful and seasoned entrepreneurs for advice and mentorship. But it is also very prudent to identify would be clients and even partners.
Go Straight to the Point
Have you ever been in an event and during the break, and as you connect with your favorite VIP and a stranger shoves their way through the conversation and before you know it, whatever you were pitching is no longer relevant? Yes, that happens a lot. Always have in mind that you might not be the only person who wants to meet this VIP; so you don’t have the luxury of time to spend with them.
That is why you have to master the art of pitching. LaShonda Bracey, a contracting guru, and serial entrepreneur recommend 7 seconds to make a first impression, 14 seconds to create interest and 21 seconds to tell your story. This will definitely require some practice before attending the event.
Join and Build your Worth
Establishing long-term relationships is not a one-day affair. Go beyond the norm and join some of the existing community groups that you’ll come across or you can as well create a community of like-minded individuals you’ll meet. Such initiatives we’ll position you as a valuable asset to your networks.
Networking isn’t just about receiving, but also giving and sharing from your resources bank which may include both knowledge and other networks. In the long run, this will contribute to the swift growth of your business.
Keep the Communication Lines Fresh
There’s no point of going to an event to connect if you are not planning to grow and maintain the relationship. It is very important to touch base soon after the event is over. After 48 hours, you can do a follow-up email appreciating the importance of meeting them.
They may not be in a position to become your mentor or be a partaker of your products and services, but they may have an extensive network of people who can. So keep your optimism levels high and positive.