Find the right people and find them quickly.
Networking is important in corporate life, but you are an entrepreneur now.
Now, networking becomes vital.
Many new entrepreneurs make the mistake of going out and joining as many networking groups as they can — choosing volume over quality.It’s essential to network with intention so you don’t end up investing time and energy in groups that aren't a good fit for your ultimate goals.
It’s essential to network with intention so you don’t end up investing time and energy in groups that aren't a good fit for your ultimate goals.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a new networking opportunity:
- What is your motivation for going to the networking event? Is it to meet potential clients or collaboration partners?
- Is your business B2B or B2C? Does the networking event even attract your ideal clients or collaboration partners?
- If it is an established group, do you know anyone that is already a member who could vouch for you? In certain networking organizations such as BNI and Leads Clubs, it is all about who you know going in; otherwise it can be an uphill climb to gain credibility and trust that will translate into referrals.
- Do the organization’s goals align with where you want to go?
- What is the skill level of existing members? Is it a good mix of newcomers and oldtimers?
- Can these people be a referral source or a partner in collaboration?
- Does your skillset benefit the group? Will you have opportunities to give back?
If you can answer yes to at least three of these questions, there’s a good chance this networking group will be beneficial to you — saving you time, money, and energy in the long run.
The goal is to find a few groups where you can build a strong, mutual support network. Mutual being a key word. Ideally, you want to help the other in your group, just as you hope to rely on them. Attend regularly, look for ways to help others without always getting something in return, and find opportunities to use your talents for the good of the group. Doing this, you will begin to build trust and credibility.
I talk about this and more in my new book Reinventing Your Life, Your Guide to Finding Fulfillment in Starting Your Business. Grab the book and join a growing community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
Sandra is an author, entrepreneur, and business strategist. Drawing from 30 years of business building experience, she teaches new and aspiring entrepreneurs how to achieve sustainable success.