Opinions expressed in this commentary are the author’s alone.
With Global Entrepreneurship Week just around the corner, seems like a great time to dust off a few key networking tips for entrepreneurs.
But, first, let’s begin by answering the question, why should entrepreneurs care about networking? Some of you are probably thinking, “I don’t have time to network… I’m busy working on my business!”
Don’t forget: Business is all about people.
While we tend to get bogged down in creating products and services, it’s critical to simultaneously build meaningful relationships. Truth is, in networking, one big benefit is the opportunity to tell your story, get instantaneous feedback and refine your pitch on the go.
Through these interactions, ideas are generated and you as the entrepreneur will build your confidence and credibility. Plus, by surrounding yourself with others who serve to prop you up, offer encouragement, provide candid and timely input, you are more likely to enjoy what you are doing and your business is more likely to thrive!
So, as you set out to attend GEW events over the next several days, keep these quick tips in mind:
Have a great attitude.
Who do you like to hang out with? What are the personality traits of people you like to be around? Most of us love to be with happy, positive, confident, outgoing, optimistic, intelligent, innovative, creative, funny, fun… people! My advice to you: Be that person! If you have the right attitude, you will become a magnet for people who want to connect with you.
Once you have committed to attending a networking event, have a goal in mind. Is there one person (or two? or more?) who you believe might be there? Gather a bit of background on him/her and then seek out that individual for a simple introduction. The few minutes that you spend preparing for these events will pay dividends – it only takes 5-15 minutes to ready yourself for the event.
During GEW – and at all other times during the year, too – be sure to research various events, identify the ones that make the most sense for you and get there. By showing up, you become part of the fabric of the entrepreneurial community. And, in addition to being there… be there! The more present you are, the more you will get out of the event and the more meaningful the relationships you forge will be for the long-term. Of course, once you’re on the scene, know your story, be prepared to share it and, when people ask how they can help, have an answer!
As for me, I’m starting GEW by attending an eCafe Coffee Kickoff event in my community and look forward to connecting with other local entrepreneurs. Hope to see you there. Happy networking!
Alana Muller is a Networking speaker, workshop facilitator, coach and author of the book, Coffee Lunch Coffee: A Practical Field Guide for Master Networking and a companion blog, CoffeeLunchCoffee.com. She is the former president of Kauffman FastTrac has been a contributor to Forbes.com, The Huffington Post, CNBC and other publications and was a featured speaker at TEDxOverlandPark. Follow Alana on Twitter at @AlanaMuller.