Tip #1: Network only when you need to.
By Peter Wade, Entrepreneur and Benefactor – Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship
Too many people spend too much time networking in the early stages of their business and not enough time getting on with the job. The true value from networking comes when you can really target a very narrow band of people who have direct skills in your enterprise zone and listen to what they say about their business and then go away and make some of their ideas help your business.
Tip #2: Focus on the person in front of you, not who you’ll meet next.
By Jodie Imam, Co-founder – Depo8 co-working space, and Mentor – Master of Entrepreneurship
When I first started out networking I thought I had to collect as many business cards as possible. After I’d connect with one person I was looking for the next person to meet. Now I aim to have deeper conversations. Use the opportunity to find a common ground that will set the foundation for a long-term relationship. If feels more natural and you’ll actually enjoy networking. Don’t spend the whole conversation looking around the room scoping out who you’re going to talk to next.
Tip #3: Don’t try to ‘make the deal’ in every conversation.
By Colin McLeod, Program Director – Master of Entrepreneurship
Most of the time, people are expecting the wrong outcome from networking. Your outcome should be to continue the conversation and secure another meeting and opportunity to develop the relationship. Investors in particular, want to see a positive trajectory in your history before they will consider giving you funding, so take it slow.
Start by doing some homework on the person. Look at their LinkedIn profile and see what content they like to share. Make a short list of what specifically you want to know from their area of expertise. Then set a time for the meeting “I’d love to understand your perspective on x, y, z over a 30mins coffee”. Don’t say ‘Can I pick your brain?’ – it’s really frustrating for them to hear; it’s too ambiguous.
Tip #4: Network with people who can actually help you.
By Ishani Chattopadhyay, Mentor – Master of Entrepreneurship
It’s very easy to waste a lot of time having coffees with people who can’t actually help you. Most people think you need to reach out to as many people as possible but that’s why most people hate networking. It feels inauthentic and there’s no real value being exchanged in either direction. This scattered approach is only going to make you feel like you’re running in the same spot – network with purpose. Understand what you really want and find a person who fits the bill.
Tip #5: Just focus on making one connection.
By Elaine Saunders, Co-founder – Blamey Saunders hears
Just be yourself and try and make one new friend at an event. If you make one good ‘connection’ who you genuinely get on with at an event, then it’s a success!
Tip #6: Stop using your friends as a crutch.
By Marcus Powe, Entrepreneur and Mentor – Master of Entrepreneurship
The value of networking at events is to expand the network of people whose help, guidance, and advice you can seek and to which you can provide value. So, when there’s an opportunity to network, don’t get stuck to your friends’ sides (‘penguin-ing’). Be brave and leave the flock to meet someone you wouldn’t normally come across.
Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship is a leading centre for entrepreneurial education. We deliver programs to accelerate learning, creation and connection.