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  As an entrepreneur, networking is important for your success. Networking means meeting new people and developing relationships that can benefit your business. A strong professional network allows you to find new opportunities, gain valuable advice and mentorship, attract investors or partners, and ultimately grow your company. However, many people feel anxious about networking. They are shy or unsure how to start conversations with strangers. However effective networking is a skill you can develop with practice. Here are some networking tips successfully as an entrepreneur:
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  • Prepare Before Events

Before attending a networking event, do some research ahead of time. Look at the list of attendees or speakers. Identify a few key people you want to connect with based on their background or role. Having a target list in mind instead of aimlessly working the room boosts your confidence.
  • Have Confident Body Language

Your body language speaks volumes before you say a word. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and make eye contact. Extend a firm handshake. Smile and have a friendly, approachable demeanour. This confident body language signals to others that you are someone they should meet.
  • Start With Light Topics

To break the ice, start conversations with lighter topics before transitioning into professional topics. Comment on something in the environment like the venue, refreshments or weather. Or ask the person where they are from. The goal is to establish some initial rapport in a relaxed way.
  • Ask Questions and Listen

One of the most important networking skills is being a good listener. Ask the person you meet open-ended questions to keep them talking, such as “What types of challenges is your industry facing lately?” Let them do most of the talking while you actively listen. People tend to be flattered when others show interest in them.
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  • Offer Value

While networking is about expanding your connections, always aim to provide value. Perhaps you know of a relevant article or book to recommend. Or you could introduce them to someone else you know who may be beneficial for them to meet. Adding value makes a memorable, positive impression.
  • Follow Up Promptly

The networking process does not end when the event is over. Follow up promptly with any new connections you want to keep building a relationship with. Send a short email or LinkedIn request within 48 hours reiterating your conversation and expressing interest in continuing to stay in touch.
  • Networking Is a Numbers Game

Like many things in business, networking requires persistently putting in the effort over time. One great connection at an event makes it worthwhile, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t get any immediate results. The more people you meet, the more your network expands, opening up future opportunities.
  • Give to Get

An effective networker has a mindset of generosity – giving without expectation of immediate return. When you focus on providing value and helping others first, being generous with making connections, you will find that your network grows exponentially over time as people want to reciprocate.
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Final Thoughts

Networking may initially feel uncomfortable, but it is an investment that pays dividends for entrepreneurs. Stay positive, be prepared, add value, and focus on building real connections. With practice, you can master this vital business skill.
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This article was first published on 4th June 2024


Chidiogo Shalom Akaelu holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from the University of Nigeria. She is a freelance writer, editor and founder of Loana Press, a budding online publishing outlet.

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