Contemplating entrepreneurship? Do you have a start-up? Are you running a growing company?
What do all these things have in common? Only the best and the smartest get to progress faster in all of them. In our current world, if you fit in any of those categories, then you are running with wolves, and you have to figure out a way to grow bigger and run faster early or you will be left behind.
How do you grow your business? My answer is networks, human currency; which is the best capital to have. I am a budding technopreneur and a storyteller by heart so I will share 5 five nuggets of wisdom on networking that have worked for me.
Rule 1: Be Intentional When Networking
As a budding entrepreneur, you should not network with just anyone. Make a meaningful impact on the networks you cultivate.
Late December 2016 I got the chance to be in Rwanda for a week courtesy of a leadership and entrepreneurship development program as part of – Lapid Leaders Africa. Our schedule was laced with meetings with various market leaders in public institutions and the private sector. Based on my current business, I decided who to target in terms of business alignment, who I could learn the most from, and add value to my business.
I settled on a fellow entrepreneur who is running a consortium of companies and has been in the game for close to 7 years. I did my homework on his business, his journey and quickly identified how a professional relationship with him could be mutually beneficial.
Rule 2: Do Your Research
Human Behavior Analysts have established that human beings naturally like to talk about themselves. An interested person in any event or meeting will listen a lot, talk less and when he talks it is along the lines of probing, urging the other person to reveal more. An interesting person on the other hard will make an interaction about themselves in an attempt to paint a picture of how much they know while missing an opportunity to make a real connection.
One of the companies the entrepreneur I approached was running is a tech firm that is currently gaining traction on big data projects. In my start-up, we had done a project on the same and were keen on heading that direction. My extensive research on the entrepreneur enabled me to identify this as an area of possible partnership.
Rule 3: Presentation Is Everything
I am a firm believer in that “look good, feel good” advice. I set up a meeting Thursday, Wednesday night, I laid out my best outfit. People judge us within the first few seconds of interaction. People tend to gravitate towards well dress people for any occasion.
The meetings allowed for a group introduction, then everyone did their self-introduction, and later a discussion on a certain topic. In our case, this specific entrepreneur was talking about the opportunities in the Rwandan tech space. Lastly, the entrepreneur took a round of questions. From the onset, my prior preparation went a long way. When the question and answer segment came, I knew what to go for: the jugular. Long story short I made a great impression, secured a second official meeting before we left Rwanda.
Rule 4: Always Conclude With Action Point
In my case, the action point was setting up a subsequent meeting to cement what we had covered. Three months later, we are still in constant communication and are working on the possibility of a joint project.
Rule 5: Grow Your Networks Through Constant Communication
Always keep the communication channels open to ensure you can continually collaborate with contacts within your networks.
This article was written by Isaac Maritim, a finalist student of Multi Media University. He also recently participated at the Lapids Leaders Africa. To find out more about the programs on offer click here.