Networking is one of the most important aspects of business.
You never hear the end of it, from the time you graduate to your time as CEO. Being members of boards, attending conferences, providing consulting services and mentoring others all add to your network.
While it is important for any business, it is incredibly important for a start up business. Start ups need to rely on their networks to initiate their business. Once established, smaller companies need to maintain relationships to ensure the sustainability of their business.
Establishing a network and then maintaining that network requires hard work and persistence. These tricks will help you do just that.
Networks cannot spring out of the ground like a wildflower; they need to be nursed and worked through cycles and growth stages. It can take years to build a network capable of helping a start-up business with their needs. This is why you need to start early. Help people you know and maintain those relationships.
It takes work, and people can tell when you are trying to use them as opposed to building a mutually beneficial team. Put in the work early, and it will pay dividends later.
Choose the Right Targets
The right people are necessary for you to build a network. You probably shouldn't focus on retired people, or kids straight out of high school. Make sure your targets represent people who can give you insight into both your product and your business model. Having people that closely resemble your target market can also be helpful.
Also, make sure that you can provide assistance and knowledge to the people you target for the network. There needs to be a mutual benefit between parties. Your network will be much easier to maintain if you follow this principle.
Create a Hook
Create a grabber, or hook to get your target interested. It should be a short story of your business. Think of it as something that you can say to someone while walking up the stairs or standing in an elevator. Just a taste of what you are working with, so when you mention it later there may be some recollection of the conversation. This will make it more comfortable if you ask for help with the project.
Blogging and social networks are increasing in popularity at an alarming rate. It is even easier to get your face out on these networks and making connections with other business people. Use these pieces of technology as an efficient means by which to connect with new people or people you already know. It can be a great communication tool for those interested in your start-up company, and may provide a platform from which you can solicit funds or consulting advice.
Technology is so cheap and easy to that any business that chooses not to puts themselves at a serious disadvantage.
Persistence is important when dealing with networks. Make sure you regularly communicate with your network members and make sure that you maintain those relationships. Be persistent when meeting new people, but not to the point of being aggravating. There is a difference between persistent and annoying.
All these things will help you build a successful network of business professionals. Nothing is more valuable to a new business than having great references and knowledgeable sources from which to pull opinions.