The Importance of Networking For New Entrepreneurs

BY: ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2011

Networking is an essential skill for most individuals in any profession, especially for entrepreneurs and businesspeople. The most essential relationship for an entrepreneur is a business relationship. Networking and creating relationships with other individuals in related professions creates opportunity for ideas, growth and enlightenment within your professional market. The best way for professionals to increase their presence in their market is by joining local business networks and attending networking events. The purpose of these groups is to help its members grow their respective businesses through positive and professional networking, enabling them to develop long-term relationships with other professionals.

Oftentimes, attending a networking event can result in a collection of business cards and no recollection of the professionals they came from. In order to avoid being “just another card,” it’s important to make a memorable first impression.

The following ten tips will help you better market yourself and make yourself a more memorable face at your next networking event:

1. Visit groups that you are interested in and take note of the social climate of the group. Are the members supportive of each other? How about their sense of leadership? Test the waters before becoming involved to be sure the group is a good fit for you.

2. Consider your goals while attending network events. Participate in groups that will help you reach these goals. The majority of networking events are aimed towards making contacts, business connections and learning.

3. Volunteer as much as you can in organizations. Volunteering is one of the best ways to stand out and give back to groups that have helped you.

4. Ask questions at events to open up the conversation. This means asking who, what, where, when and how to receive a constructive response.

5. Present yourself as a helpful resource to others. When you’re known as beneficial resource, people will often turn to you for ideas and suggestions.

6. Always have an understanding of what you do, why you do it, who you do it for, and what makes your doing it different from others in the same field.

7. Be clear in what you are looking for and how others can help you. It’s important to know what it is you need and who to go to for help.

8. It’s important to be genuine and authentic when networking. Some of your goals during these events should be to build trust, help others and create meaningful relationships.

9. Call those you meet who can benefit from what you do. Likewise, call those who you can benefit from, too.

10. Follow through efficiently on referrals that are given to you. When you are provided with referrals, your actions are a reflection of them. Respect and honor this fact and your referrals will grow.

 Finding the best networking group begins with researching organizations that are specific to your profession. The most well recognized networking groups are international organizations that are broken up into city chapters. For example, the Public Relations Society of America is the world’s largest organization of public relations professionals. Other social and professional networking organizations include those specific to business owners and entrepreneurs, such as RedCarpetMonday and BNI. Groups such as these give their members the opportunity to communicate effectively sharing business ideas and developing long-term relationships. For a community of lawyers, the American Bar Association the organization that all bar certified attorneys must register with to practice in the legal profession. The ABA certified attorneys become a part of a community of fellow lawyers used for referrals, ideas, and advice in their practice. Another large community is the National Association of Broadcasters, which brings together the nation’s radio and television broadcasters by city. There are several profession specific networking organizations that can be easily found through word of mouth or the internet.
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