Whether it’s to find a new job, make a sale or find a partner, people network for various reasons. All these reasons are important for people in the corporate world as well as entrepreneurs.
In fact, entrepreneurs should take networking very seriously because it can be a major asset in building a business. From validating a business idea to finding partners, capital and employees, networking can be an entrepreneur’s best friend.
Validating Your Idea, Assessing the Market
Shortly after you (the entrepreneur) come up with a business idea, it’s important for you to validate the concept. One way to do this is by getting yourself out in the marketplace and talking with others about your idea.
Leverage your network to find people to talk to in your industry as well as potential customers and partners. In addition, it can be helpful to talk to your peers (especially since they may be going through a similar experience).
Attend networking events to find others to talk with about your potential new business. Think of these conversations as your primary research, which will help you to assess the market need as well as its demand. .
As an entrepreneur, you most likely will rely on business partnerships to help you build and grow your business. Partnerships could include people or firms that can market your company, refer potential clients, provide additional services to your clients or offer guidance.
With effective networking, you will be able to find the right people to build these mutually beneficial relationships. Also, make sure you can help people in return. You can find these relationships by talking with people you know about potential alliances or by asking them for referrals.
In addition to leveraging your network, attend networking events to meet other people. Find the appropriate people to talk to about your company and your need for partnerships. As you start to build relationships with some of these people, you will start to form alliances.
As an entrepreneur, you know your business could not get off the ground or survive through various growth stages without funding. Therefore, raising capital is a must for the survival of most firms. No better way exists to find capital than through networking.
The investment world is a relationship-driven community and you need to leverage your network to get to the right investors.
At the same time, you need to form some of these relationships on your own by attending appropriate networking events. Do your research and attend the events at which you have the best chance of meeting investors or people who can refer you to investors.
Many investment opportunities come across an investor’s desk each week (most of which will not receive any funding). In fact, many of these deals come from people who don’t have an existing relationship with the investors.
The deals that come qualified to an investor through an existing relationship usually get the most attention and have a better chance of receiving funding. Your goal should be to form a relationship with either an investor or someone in the investment community so your opportunity becomes one of the qualified deals.
As your business grows, you will need to find quality team members to take your company to the next level.
Because one of the best ways to find these people is through referrals, make sure to talk to people who you know. Also, when you attend networking events, express your employment needs with people you meet.
Some of these people may be good candidates or they may know of people who may fit your open positions. Either way, networking is the No. 1 way that people find jobs (as opposed to job postings and agencies). Therefore, you need to work the networking system to find your employees.
Also, spend time building relationships with people so you will get to know their personalities and skill sets. As a result, when you are ready to hire people, you will have a good base of people to choose from.
Whether you are trying to make a sale, meet new people, find a job or start a company, networking is important for all facets of the business world. Therefore, entrepreneurs should use networking as a tool to help them build and grow their businesses.