Networking is extremely important to entrepreneurs because it helps to identify individuals that can help you and your company now and in the future. Some of the people you meet along the way will become life-long friends, business associates, investors and many other things. Your method of networking can take many forms and all of them can be important. In fact, even the art of raising capital is a form of networking with investors. This is why you really need to recognize you are part of a rumor mill that you may not know is taking place. Most important is that you are always on your best behavior and ensure your interactions are always first class.
The networking process is always going to be the same but the affiliation of the individuals will differ as will their behind the scenes motives. Take for example sophisticated investors like VCs. Almost as soon as you leave a meeting expect them to have someone contact all of their investor friends to get their opinions and to determine if their group is going to invest in your company; be certain they will discuss you personally as well. If you are on the road, these investors may have even contact your next in line visits and request a follow up from them after you leave. In addition, some will contact companies they are already invested in and suggest the company start collecting info on you and your business since you may be a competitor or a possible partner. The investors will also speak to neighbors, their network, and new contacts if the believe business info can help validate your technology or steer them to not invest. Point is, make sure you are ready and polished for even your first visit; it will make an impact all the way down the rumor mill line.
What if it is a business networking event? You meet someone that you want to have a follow up meeting with and mention you know so & so. The new contact will likely reach out to the person you mentioned and get as much info as possible about you. They will want to know if you are on the up & up and if your business makes sense. If either of them suspects you may be going to speak with others in their network, other contacts will likely be made as well.
On more than one occasion, contacts, investors, and business associates will play the “do you know so & so” game. This will generate a discussion that could cover most any aspect of your business, personality, flaws, and strengths once they find out both know or have met you. If you were a jackass in a meeting or the most gifted and polite person in the world, the word will get around. The rumor mill can have an impact on your future success.
The bottom line is don’t forget that you only get a one chance to make a first impression. This goes for you personally and for your business. Put the effort into making sure you do the best you can and behave like a professional. It may make a big difference in a present or future transaction or relationship.
Taffy Williams is the author of: Think Agile: How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon