As an entrepreneur, your network is your biggest asset. Without it, you can’t leverage the time, money, labor and resources of other people – precisely what you need to do if you want to establish a successful firm.
However, building a large network is tricky. It’s not a business process in the conventional sense. Instead, it’s something that takes creativity, commitment and personal passion.
As an entrepreneur, you might have a great business idea, but if you don’t have people supporting you, you’ll struggle.
The good news is this: building a network isn’t as hard as you think, even if you’re an introvert. Here’s what to do:
Focus On Building A Professional Network
Entrepreneurs need a professional network to provide them with the knowledge and services that they require to do business. Most small business owners, for instance, have accountants.
The goal of professional networks is to build trust. You want other parties to recognize you as somebody who they can rely on – and vice versa.
If you run a fleet-based company for example, your professional network would include a supplier that provides diesel drums to keep your vehicles topped up. If you run a marketing agency, your professional network might include talented content creators who can produce engaging work for clients’ audiences.
Go To Social Events
The next step is to look for social opportunities to meet more people. Throughout it all, you’re looking to go beyond standard economic relationships and really get to know and trust those around you.
Right now, there are companies operating in major cities across the world to facilitate networking. These agencies organize soirees, gallery tours, cocktail parties and more for you to meet with other people.
Make A Habit Of Talking To Everyone
Entrepreneurs can sometimes feel uncomfortable going up to people and just starting a conversation with them. It can feel forced. However, if you watch many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, they make a habit of it. They’re always interested in new people, wondering how they can ingratiate themselves.
When you talk to a range of people, you gather more ideas for your business. You also get a deeper understanding of other people’s perspectives and how your activities affect them. In some cases, you can get great ideas from people lower down in your organization, customers, clients and strangers you interact with at social events.
Follow-Up Your Connections
Once you give somebody your business card, don’t just leave it there. The chances that they will get back to you are virtually zero. Instead, casually follow up with them a couple of days later to see how they are getting on. If you’re not used to it, it can feel a little awkward at first. But if you discuss something future-minded with them, don’t allow the opportunity to slip away.
Prepare Topics Of Conversation In Advance
Lastly, you’ll want to prepare some conversations in advance, particularly if you are the type of person who doesn’t like to wing it. You can also practice active listening. People are much more likely to remember you if they feel as though you are meeting their needs.