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Tefo’s Confessions: Why Entrepreneurs Need to Know Networking and How to Master It?

A lot of authors and speakers have talked about different ways of networking and ways in which businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals can network. But they rarely go into detail as to why exactly networking is important. Why the business will be so much better networking than otherwise. And the depth of the matter as to what exactly is networking in the 1st place.

Is it creating Facebook/Twitter pages and sharing details about your business and your ventures? That is networking in a way. Reaching out to a larger base of people from anywhere in the world.

I will address this topic from the perspective of an entrepreneur. Why networking is important in entrepreneurship.

When one starts their business, they have hopes and dreams of seeing it succeed and most importantly growing beyond borders and someday becoming a world wide trending business or franchise. One could say Facebook did just that and it was favored by the fact that its base idea is networking; and in doing so, providing a platform for other entrepreneurial ventures to network as well. As an entrepreneur, all you have is your idea and it can only take you so far.

Scenario;

There’s a conference/event with over 50 delegates. You interact with 10 different delegates and exchange ideas and contacts. Delegate-A has a network of 100 people from their respective field and creating a relationship with them gives you access to these 100 people. Likewise with Delegate C,D,E etc. this gives you a potential network of 1000 potential clients and investors of your business. Similarly, you learn of their backgrounds and experiences that could help you in molding your own path. This is networking. If this cycle continues and each member of Delegate-A’s network, networks with the people tallying behind them, soon the entire continent catches up and your idea goes viral.

Franchises were not made in one day and are not operated by one person. It’s a network of people that saw the greatness of the idea and introduced it to their countries and the business grew. Networking gives you the opportunity to grow your business across the globe without you doing all the work or even paying for it.

On a the same note, it will allow you to meet different people who will each teach you something to help grow your business. It may also help you get in touch with the very people crucial to the success of your business; investors and potential customers. It allows you the platform to sell yourself and your business and get them to know first hand what you do and what you need them for. They therefore can share their connections and networks and importantly their experiences and knowledge. As an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to be the type of person to walk into a room and sit in the corner. Have the type of personality that lets you walk to people in the room and strike a conversation that will lead to an exchange of business cards, or better yet, that will extend to a coffee meeting to discuss business.

Networking isn’t only possible online. Of course the online platforms are a lot cheaper and convenient and you simply achieve that from the comfort of your seat. But they also have to lead to fruitful results either purchases being made or endorsement agreements being made. Either way, there’s no point in networking if there aren’t any positive results. If nothing happens. If all you did was disperse information but not get the people interested or keen to learn more about your business.

You may be smart and have all the great ideas. But that will not help your business grow if you go at it alone. You need to build relationships that last and lead to repeat business. Relationships that will by default help you brand your business and indirectly market you.

You can promote your products and services on a very personal level. Such relationships enable you to stand out and rise above the ruckus created by advertisements, emails and random sales pitches. It adds more trust and credibility to what you have to offer.” Nidhi Ann Raj

Networking does not only happen in formal events. Strike a conversation with someone in a cab home; ironically some people manage to do so in a club and entertainment type environments. Whichever works best for you, depending on the type of business you run or the field you are in. strike a conversation with your local Sunday Football team. You don’t strike a conversation for the sake of conversing. You strike meaningful conversations with people who present endless possibilities that would benefit you and your brand. And it goes both ways. As much as you want them to entertain you and your ideas, they expect the same from you; because they are also looking to network.

Physical networking works far better than just ordinary marketing; because it’s more personal and direct and costs almost no money. Just know your business, the direction you are headed and what you have to offer the next person in a way that they cannot turn you down. Creating personal relationships builds a platform for word of mouth advertising, which is another priceless form of advertising.

Social networking; the use of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc.; has become a popular means of networking. And at some point it was very effective and bore great results. But like any other market, it has become so saturated people do not pay attention to it anymore. So in a way, it has become a waste of time. Businesses flood timelines with their advertisements and updates and customers eventually unsubscribe/un-follow. So the only feasible and successful means left is the physical networking. It has always been convenient and effective. People just got lazy. People are not fascinated by Facebook ads anymore.