The Art of Networking: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know
There are many factors that make an entrepreneur and their business successful, but arguably the most important is finding the right connections. Whether it’s an introduction to a distributor, or a chance to talk with a reporter from the New York Times, networking to make those connections is vital. There are some people that are simply naturals at networking. But even if you’re an expert, you can still improve! Follow some of the tips we’ve compiled, and you’ll be on the way to becoming the next talk of the town.
This Forbes article, How to Network like a Pro, highlights four basic building blocks on your journey to networking excellence:
- Build Genuine Relationships
- Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to networks. There’s something to be said about meeting with everyone you can, but it’s vital that you’re not just shooting from one meeting to another. Make sure you try to make a real connection with each person, as it can always lead down a path you don’t expect.
- Help Your Network
- Never just ask for things – be willing to give a little to get a little. If you’re new in your career, this can be as simple as an article that they might find interesting. If you’re more established, it’s always great to offer up a connection of your own that you think they may want to chat with. Remember, if they’re meeting with you, they are probably also trying to network with other people as well.
- Stay In Touch
- Don’t just have a meeting with someone and move on. Follow up with them via e-mail and stay in contact with them if something relevant happens. If you stay on their mind, it’s more likely that you could get something out of the relationship down the line.
- Diversify Your Events
- It’s always good to go to food industry events, but just because an event is not food industry focused, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. You never know how ideas could cross-pollinate! Leave your comfort zone to meet people outside of your industry.
If you think you’ve mastered those basics, you make also want to do some more advanced reading with Forbes’ How To Network The Right Way: Eight Tips. If you’re on the other side of the coin and need a more step by step guide to get going, check out the Entrepreneur’s video on Building a Network as an Introvert. In the video, they suggest creating an ‘Influencer List’ and reaching out to at least one person from that list every week.