Author: Vikram Upadhyaya, Chief Mentor & Accelerator Evangelist at GHV Accelerator
To be successful, you have to be able to relate to people; they have to be satisfied with your personality to be able to do business with you and to build a relationship with mutual trust.
– George Ross
Anyone who runs a business will tell you how true the aforementioned quote is. Small or big, networking is crucial for all businesses, more so for startups, since they need to be built right from scratch. This is because when you are trying to set up something new, building it block by block, you don’t want to wait for things to fall into place at their own pace. With effective networking, you are likely to get things moving faster and get better results than you would have expected otherwise. Networking is in fact one of the most powerful tactics to accelerate and sustain the success for any business.
Building the right relationships is very crucial for any beginner as it can open up a plethora of opportunities. Many people feel that networking is time intensive and can distract from their ‘real work’, but if your connections can help set up and stabilize your business faster, then the time and effort spent is absolutely worth it.
Remember that your presence in the entrepreneurial ecosystem is as important as your presence at workplace, since these forums help establish connections that can add tremendous value to your business. Business networking events give you an opportunity to meet entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs, bloggers, vendors and other business enthusiasts who are looking for connections, opportunities, advice, inspiration and mentors. It’s all about building lasting connections with the right people, and then leveraging them at the right time.
For instance, interacting with other entrepreneurs can help you learn from each other’s experience. Sharing ideas and experiences also helps inspire and motivate each other. And who knows, when the time comes, if the network you have built is a strong one, you can even get connected to a mentor or investor, which is otherwise not an easy task to accomplish. Of course, the very fact that you have been recommended by someone else is an added advantage.
Apart from this, entrepreneurs of startups can also benefit from effective business networking to build new clients, get access to the necessary resources and get visibility for their products and services in the market. After all, stepping out in the market and remaining updated is much better than staying in a cocoon without knowing what is going on in the entrepreneurial space.
The important thing to remember is that networking should be done in an effective way to get the desired results. If at any time, you are confused about which networking event to attend or whom to network with, choose the ones that can offer the maximum advantage to your business. Moreover, it is important that you build a rapport with the right people over a period of time rather than just making a one-time introduction and then calling them for work the next time. That may not really work. Like all other long term relationships, you need to invest time and effort to forge long-term ties in order to derive the maximum benefit from your network.
Your approach to networking should be similar to your approach towards any other aspect of your business. Although it is hard to discern where your effort will be fruitful, what is important is that you have a clear objective in mind when you get down to networking. Aimless efforts will yield no results.
Moreover, as a startup with a global vision, you ought to work on building a global network, which is now easily possible, thanks to professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. Meeting or interacting with people from different communities and countries will also enrich your vision and offer meaningful insights that can benefit your business.
And here’s the key to effective networking… It’s not the size of your network that matters, but the quality of connections you build that determines the degree to which your business benefits from it. Also, entrepreneurs must not measure the results from their networking efforts in the short term. Returns from networking may take some time to become visible, but that should not deter them from making the effort in the first place.
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