Entrepreneurs need to network with others to not only grow their business, but to be able to serve their target market. What is networking? Networking is connecting with other people who either share your business or interest focus, or with people who can assist you in growing your business or understanding.
Entrepreneurs need to take the following actions to be effective in networking.
- Share your passion with people with whom you network.
- Like what your connections like
- Keep your sales pipeline going by getting at least one referral from each contact
- Meet and talk with 10 new people each day
- Give presentations
- Clone yourself. Hold dinner parties
- Talk with the person outside your comfort zone
- Make contacts with people at church
- Be a connector—bring people together
- Connect with other networks
- Give a free workshop
- Volunteer in the community
Create a Power Statement
Create a 30 second summary of what service or product your company or you provide.
- Give a general introduction with a hook (for example: “I have always enjoyed interacting with people” or “Have you got a website that’s not growing your business?”) And be ready with a power follow-up answer.
- State your number of years of education and/or professional experience
- Share 3 benefits you provide with your product or service
- Say “I’m looking at industries A, B, C. I am targeting companies such as these: (name 5 companies). Who do you know who might help me meet with key people in these industries and/or companies?
Organize Your Networking Contacts
Use the internet to organize your networking contacts. Jibberjabber.com is one site recommended. The site should help you:
- Rank relationships of each person in your network
- Categorize and tag each person to create group networks for easy searching
- Define how far away from you each person is to measure effectiveness. (1,2,3, persons removed)
- Track contact info and important dates
- Log any communication
- Store notes on what you can give them and what they can give you
What does an Entrepreneur need?
An entrepreneur needs a great mentor—someone who can advise you, a person that relates to what you’re doing, one who can help you with your niche market. Know the right people for the right reason.
Get on the Radar Screen by Making Yourself Known
- Join and interact with professional associations and community service groups.
- Get companies to know you through informational interviews.
- Join your local chamber of commerce when you can afford it and be actively involved
- Join at least one business oriented networking group
- Attend at least one meeting of your networking group each week.
Make appointments with your target market for informational interviews.
- For 5 minutes talk about the person’s interests and family
- For the next 5 minutes talk about the company needs and goals
- For the next 5 minutes talk about industries and targeted companies
- For the last 5 minutes talk about yourself and your skills and ask for two referrals prior to leaving.
Since you set the 20 minute time limit, stand and excuse yourself when 20 minutes has elapsed. Remember to send a thank-you note the same day.
Listen to the Customer or Client
Gain trust by doing what the customer wants. You can build your business by listening to what they say.
- Listen to existing and potential clients. The fish tell the other fish, “Bite here!” Learn something from each contact. Use focus groups to brainstorm questions for market information.
- Narrow your target market to a reachable group, and then listen to them. Once you know them well, give back by helping them find solutions to their problems.
- By listening and teaching your narrow market, you come to know your customer so well they request your services or products that create value that’s easy to for them to see and understand.
Researching—Becoming the Expert
- Understand industry gaps, problems, trends and blog about them, sharing solutions
- Understand the company gaps, problems, and trends within the industry and write authoritatively about them
- Read new articles, trade and association journals and online publications to augment your understanding and inform your writing
- Search the internet through a variety of search engines—Google, MSN, Yahoo, and others
- Network to find direct contacts who do business with specific industries and companies
Become a good mentor for other entrepreneurs; never stop networking; and take suggestions only when you understand the benefits.