How to utilise your networking skills to get funded

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Networking is regarded as one of the most important aspects to help get word out about a new business. Exchanging information with other business professionals can not only help you learn mistakes to avoid, but it can give an insight into the success of other entrepreneurs.

1. Treat a networking event like you are meeting a group of friends.

The first rule of networking is: to be interesting you must be interested. Ask your acquaintance questions about their own accomplishments because if someone is interested in you, it will make them become more interesting themselves. Try and stay on-topic which will convey show you are paying attention. Nevertheless, don’t make the atmosphere awkward and uncomfortable by suddenly change topics if it seems negative. Try and redirect to something that is still related but allows more scope for a positive response.

2. Know who you are trying to reach out to by doing your homework.

Keep your objectives at the forefront of your mind. If you are trying to connect with someone who is influential or significant, do your homework. People will be trying to reach out to them all the time so stand out from the crowd by knowing something unpredictable about their passions. It will be a far more effective way to be engaging and memorable. Don’t be afraid to exit from conversations that aren’t good matches either. Use your time effectively.

3. Know your power contacts.

Visualise social networking. You can meet many people, but the people who can connect you to more people are your power contacts. ‘Super-networking’ can push your business further because the social network pool which you’ll have access to will increase. You’ll meet more people who can offer greater opportunities and advice. Stepping out of your comfort zone reveals the possibilities that await for you.

4. Be a good listener.

Ask insightful questions and you will receive better answers. Pay attention because listening validates the value of others, shows respect and an interest in someone’s opinions and thoughts. Talking too much is dominating and not reciprocal. The quality of contacts is what matters, not quantity of contacts.

How to show you are a good listener:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Don’t look at the time
  • Show agreement but do not interrupt to make your own point or share your own personal experiences.
  • Respond by repeating at least one key point the person you are talking with just made in the form of a question.

5. Change your ‘elevator pitch’ into a power statement.

Without selling your company in a false manner, be able to present your skills and experience in 30 seconds. The technique usually perfected in an elevator pitch needs to be diluted as people will be quick to recognise insincere interest, compliments, and gestures.

6. Follow-up & have your essential social networks up to date.

By email, a call, or by text – whatever suits you. Following up is important to make action happen. If you are sending an email, it should be about them. Make sure your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and phone number are all up to date. Collect business cards and chase the promises made to you. Keep to your own commitments too.

7. Ask and you might receive. But remember relationships take time to develop.

You don’t meet someone today and become their trusted advisor tomorrow. Be proactive. It takes time to build relationships. Seek and you will find. However, don’t spam the person, in person nor email. Positive language matters when following up with emails. Don’t expect to get everything you ask for straight away but by gaining the trust of many people over time, networking will definitely pay off.

Want to meet top funders or put your networking skills into practise? Join us at our next event “Networking with Funders”:

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