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Networking tips? That’s how you do it as an entrepreneur

Networking-tips

A golden rule in networking is: give before you take! Because, how social is entrepreneurship actually? You are focussed on yourself and your plans, isn’t it? Or do you do it in the end and only for satisfied customers? In short: how social should you be? Networking is not a dirty verb, and you should not underestimate its importance. At one time, you have to make contacts and eventually conclude contracts.

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Self-employed

Most of the business owners in many countries in the world are self-employed and do not employ personnel. And, that number is growing. They miss a colleague in the morning who gets them coffee. Although that is a relief for some freelancers. They prefer their independence to the coziness that a large office or public organization can offer. They are self-reliant and able to work alone. 

That sounds a bit lonely, but it is not. They may be alone but not lonely. The question is, how well they perform in a social environment and during networking events. Having both of them – being alone and being among people – can be a powerful combination.

Social orientation

Networking says something about social orientation. It is one of the essential traits of successful entrepreneurs. It says something about their ability to make contacts. This means they are guided by business considerations, and they can put aside their social needs and focus on their business. That personal characteristic comes in handy for the self-employed. 

Of course, that need for attention and being surrounded by people is more or less innate. Still, if that need is very high for you, you may wonder whether self-employment is something for you. You cannot learn or unlearn the urge for social contacts. Networks, however, do. Sufficient books have been written about this, and workshops are available. The most important lesson I learned in networking is: give before you take. First, see how you can help others, then just be interested in how it will benefit you.

Below you find some networking tips:

  • The first and most important tip, which many unconsciously do not apply, is to make contact with someone first sincerely.
  • Networking only with people you get along with or feel good about. Because networking is based on mutual trust. So, allow your intuition to kick in.
  • Collect business cards and store them in a system or invite someone on Linkedin.
  • When you collect a business card, jot something down, for example, where or on which occasion you met that person. It helps to make contact again.
  • Know what you want and express that too, and I am not only referring to your sales or elevator pitch or what you do. But what you are looking for at that moment. For example, a “high placed” contact with a potential company. However, it is better to start with the question: how can I help you? That one always surprises people and is so lovely to ask :).
  • But if you still need or want to give your pitch, follow these pitching tips:
    • There is a difference between a sales pitch and a networking pitch.
      • With a sales pitch, you have to generate confidence so that customers want to do business with you
      • With a networking pitch, the goal is to get to know someone.
    • A good pitch is a story in which you explain who you are, what you can do for the other person, and matches the situation and your target group. The pitch must suit you to keep it credible!
    • A networking pitch is shorter than a sales pitch or elevator pitch.
      • A networking pitch takes about thirty seconds. After those thirty seconds, there is a natural moment when the other asks a question or gives a response.
      • The sales pitch lasts a maximum of two minutes. By asking what you do, you have permission to explain which problem you solve for customers with your products and services.
    • Anyone can learn it. Compare it to sports. Practice on the people you know and ask for positive and negative feedback.
  • Keep your name high. Do not refer to anyone if you do not feel right or safe about it.
  • Continue to believe in networking. If it doesn’t bring you immediate results, don’t worry. Sometimes you get something unexpected from what you have given somewhere else to someone.

By learning networking, you increase your social orientation. However, your need for attention or urge to surround yourself with people won’t grow. Although, your networking skill will, and perhaps more importantly, the kindness of making new contacts will grow.

Read more about what the difference between skills, abilities, knowledge, and competencies is.

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