9 Strategic Steps and Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Helping you to develop a positive network

When you build a bulletproof network, it really can help you to stay motivated and balance your life. However, networking isn’t achieved by simply handing out business cards or connecting online. Successful networking follows a strategic plan and methodical execution.

In this article, we describe networking tips for entrepreneurs that are guaranteed to bring positive results when executed effectively.

First, the networking mistakes to avoid

Many professionals and entrepreneurs are bad networkers. What are the mistakes that they must avoid when networking? This is what’s holding them back:

  • Being too aggressive – you’ll turn people off if they believe your sole aim is to ‘sign them up’.

  • Focusing on the wrong people – it’s great to add CEOs and chair people to your list of contacts, but lesser names are likely to be at least as helpful to you.

  • Being withdrawn – your nerves may be jangling, but the only way to network is to approach people. Lose your inhibitions.

  • Being unprepared – no elevator pitch, no business card, no knowledge of who you want to connect with, no prepared answers.

Improving your network strategically

The following steps and networking tips for entrepreneurs will help you develop the strategic network that will accelerate your success as an individual and the success of your business. Be prepared – some would be considered a little unconventional by traditional, less-successful networkers.

Step #1: Prepare to network

Whether you’re networking in person or online, be prepared. Know what you’re going to say and who you want to connect with. Here’s how:

  • Create your elevator pitch – a 30-second introduction that excites others to want to know more about you. Instead of saying “I’m a doctor”, say “I give people life-changing advice in 10-minute consultations”.

  • Always have your business card ready, including your e-business card.

  • Optimize your online profiles to reflect the professional person you are (especially on LinkedIn).

  • Create a profile of your ideal contact.

  • Learn where you’ll find this person, and visit those places regularly – especially online.

Step #2: Practice meeting people

Going out and meeting new people can be difficult. We get nervous of doing so. Like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets – and the better you’ll get at it.

Start talking to strangers. Stop and ask someone directions, even when you know where you are going. Ask a shopper’s advice on a product they are buying in the store. Remark on the book a fellow passenger is reading next time you’re on a flight.

When you’re given the chance, practice your elevator speech. Measure the reaction and refine.

There’s another benefit of practicing by talking to everyone: you never know who you will meet. The person you talk to while lining for a ticket may be the ideal connection for your next project.

Step #3: Don’t pitch – pry and help

To hit your goal of expanding your network, don’t pitch to people. Even your elevator speech should only be used when you’re asked about what you do.

People are more likely to connect when you show an interest in them. Ask them questions to discover more about them, and take the opportunity from what you learn to offer your help without expecting anything in return.

Step #4: Become a go-to resource online

Build your online presence and become a go-to resource. How do you do this?

  • Participate in relevant industry groups on LinkedIn

  • Create content and share on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media

  • Comment on others’ posts, especially those of people with whom you want to connect

  • Share interesting content

  • Offer help and advice online

Step #5: Act locally and think globally

Building a network is like a spider building a web. Start from the center and develop outwards.

Attend local events. Write for local media. Offer interviews to local media. Read your local press to know what is going on in your community and engage with your community.

Don’t expect others to come to you. Go to them, where they will be found. Volunteer in your community and ensure that your values drive your purpose.

Step #6: Reconnect and stay in touch

Develop relationships with your network. Those people who you have lost touch with – reconnect. Say, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ Be genuine when you do so. Remember, you are connecting not for your own gain, but because you want an authentic relationship. Your old connections are often the hidden gems.

Step #7: Offer samples

Always be prepared to offer a sample to someone who is interested in what you do. Carry a couple of copies of your book. Makes sure you point out the free trial of your service on your business card. You get the idea.

Step #8: Always follow up

Connections are only connections if you connect. A business card in your pocket is, well, a business card in your pocket. It’s also a gateway to a deep, meaningful professional relationship. But you must open that gateway.

Follow up with every connection you make. Call them. Send them an email. Ask them a question that you ‘forgot’ to ask when you met. Tell them you have been thinking about their problem, and that you have some advice that might be helpful.

Step #9: Nurture your network

You’ve got to stay in touch. Let people know what you’re doing, what you have learned lately, and what help you can offer. Be interested in what other people are doing:

  • Congratulate them on new jobs

  • Send birthday or anniversary wishes

  • Comment and share their posts and content online

Invest in your network

Your network will not develop by itself. You must put in the legwork to get the results you want. The networking tips for entrepreneurs that we’ve discussed above provide the framework for success, but to be successful you must invest in developing and maintaining your network.

This means committing time to your network and building relationships by giving first. Undoubtedly, there will be some steps above that you find especially hard. What are they? What is your mental block on meeting new people and starting conversations? How do you offer free samples without appearing to be selling?

These questions are just a few examples of those you may have. Connect with Level 5 Mentors and let us help you iron out your networking wrinkles. We expect nothing in return.

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