Why is a good network so important?
Having a good network will always be good as an entrepreneur because as a business owner, you will very likely encounter challenges and lack of skills somewhere on the journey – it can be a problem, lack of capital or resources that is a crucial stumbling block in the process. In situations like these, you can therefore draw on your network – if you have chosen to network with the right people; people who possess other sets of competencies and experiences than yourself, as in that case they can help you further if you encounter a challenge.
There is a recognized theory, Six Degrees of Separation, which states that with the people you know, and those you know, and those they know, and so on, you are never more than six handshakes away from the rest of the world. , and you will therefore stand much stronger with a good network.
When is a good network relevant?
You have a problem/challenge
As an entrepreneur, you are (almost) guaranteed to run into problems or challenges along the way. Then it will be crucial to have a good network to draw on and help you solve issues in your small business. This applies to help with a specific competence, contacts, validation of an idea or something completely different.
You need to hire someone
You have to use a certain competence in your team – so it can save you a lot of time (and money) if someone from your network knows someone who knows someone who is the perfect candidate for the open position. That’s a win-win!
You need financing or investment
Finding money as an entrepreneur can be really difficult, but it often gets a little easier if you have a good network; You may know someone who has previously obtained external funding and with whom you can save. It could also be that you have investors in your network (or your network has it in their network), that way you get access to some people who can come with the capital. If you have numerous capital strong types in your network, then you can also put them together and they can invest together (or you can play them off against each other so you can get a stronger offer).
You need a mentor
As an entrepreneur, it can be rewarding to have someone who has more experience than yourself to seek advice from. With a good network, there will definitely be someone among you who has faced the same challenges as you (or knows someone who has). Find people that will elevate you as an entrepreneur with whom you can build relationships and create a common ground.
You want to attract customers
Your network will most likely be some of your very first customers, so with a good and broad network, you will be able to get off to a good start. Your network will also serve as a good marketing tool for your product as they will definitely tell their network about your business.
You want to find business partners
If you have an idea to find one or more partners for your business idea, then it is good to have a wide range of connections within the subject in which you are looking for a partner – it certainly makes it easier to find one.
How to build a good network?
There are many opportunities to build a good network. I have gathered 6 important points when it comes to how to go about creating an all-important network (and why it is attractive).
Rule number one: You must be clear with what you want to achieve and what you want out of your network. The more specific you are, the easier it is to create a relevant network. Are you looking for capital? Are you considering getting a mentor? Or are you considering starting a business? The reasons can be many and all with the common denominator that a good network will push you further towards the goal.
Be active on social media
It is important that you nurture your network if you want to make sure you maintain your contacts. The best place you can do this is probably on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn; the world’s largest professional network that can be used for everything from finding the right job, expanding skills or finding and strengthening professional relationships. On LinkedIn, you connect with the people you find interesting – and not just people you have an existing relationship with. Without a LinkedIn profile, you are almost lost in maintaining the relationships that you have created for yourself.
Invest in your network
It is important that you are available to others; share your knowledge and experience and give feedback to those who need it. So make sure to be visible and present where there is help to be given.
” A good networker has an eye for the opportunities of others – not his own gain ”
The quote speaks quite well for itself. If you help others, the help will always return to you. If you act solely on your own gain, you will be far less attractive to others to have you in their network.
Be present offline
Not everything has to take place online. Attend events, take relevant courses and be where those who want to be an interesting match for you are also (eg: network meetings, startup cafes, etc.). That way, you get to know people on a much deeper level than just the virtual relationship.
Use your network before launch
Your network does not only help when you are on the market but also before you launch your product or service. Market yourself to your network – that way you get unique sparring and test your ideas before they are seriously sent out to the rest of the world.
Ask, Ask, Ask
As an entrepreneur, do not be afraid to ask around. Asking a person for advice in their particular area of expertise is actually a compliment and is certainly received positively – and the worst you can get is a no.
Would you like to know a little bit more about the science of Six Degrees of Separation, check out this YouTube video by Veritasium.