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Quaiqu Ananse
13th September 2011, 01:29 PM
Networking Skills for Entrepreneurs
For many entrepreneurs, networking is one of the best parts of the job. They enjoy getting out and talking to other business owners, potential customers, and anyone else who happens to come along. For those with a decent set of people skills, it doesn’t take long to build a reputation for being friendly or interesting or funny or whatever. As long as you are putting forth the effort to be a master of networking, there are a few skills you can add to your repertoire to give you the final push to the head of the class.

Be the one who knows
One advantage of building a broad and deep rolodex (does anyone use those anymore?) is that you likely know at least one person, if not several, who can handle just about any type of situation. Pay attention to what your contacts know and add that data to your contact database. That way, anytime another of your contacts has an issue, you will be the one to have one or more possible solutions. Of course, only recommend contacts that you believe in – if you refer an important client to a drywaller who drinks on the job, that will reflect badly on you and your business too.

Be the one who comes through
The most important half of communication with your network contacts is listening. Pay attention to what others need and be the one who provides an answer first. Of course, you are not likely to memorize everything about everyone you meet, but keeping the data as discussed above will make it easy to find the answers others need. Keep a pen and paper with you during networking events and jot down notes of what others are concerned about, then take a few minutes to email a quick referral if you have one. When people ask you directly for information or a referral, be sure you get back to them within 24 hours.

Identify and nurture potential partnerships
Good business partnerships can range from joint ventures to simple symbiotic referral partners. Be thinking about how your business fits with others whenever you meet other business owners. Be careful not to jump into uncertain situations, do your due diligence before you make any deals. But always be looking for opportunities for a mutually beneficial relationship…and don’t be afraid to be the one to bring it up.

Don’t forget the basics
Set goals for each networking event, whether those goals are finding a solution to a particular problem, adding a certain number of names to your contact database, or simply nurturing existing relationships to some beneficial end. Always have your business cards on you and pass out two to every new contact – one to keep and one to pass on. Always be upbeat and positive – leave all personal AND business problems at the door. Dress appropriately and remember overdressed is better than underdressed. Spend some money on your ties, watches, and shoes…and pay attention to what your new contacts are wearing as well.

A business owner’s networking skills can make or break a growing business. Take the task seriously, but enjoy it as well.


Source: http://wisepreneur.com/entrepreneurship/networking-skills-for-entrepreneurs