When I started networking on behalf of Virgin Music – meeting with agents, persuading musicians to sign with us, finding distributors – it often involved swapping phone numbers scrawled on napkins. It was the 70s, after all!
These days it’s much easier to connect with people who can help you launch and grow your business. Just think: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all provide opportunities for you to meet and interact with fellow entrepreneurs, experts in the field and innovative newcomers.
However you go about making connections, from the very first moment you begin to realise that your idea is worth pursuing, the first step on the road to success is building a network.
It’s all about your peers
To get started, attend industry events and meet key players; join regional business associations and start learning about local market conditions. Also remember that you can meet potential mentors at schools, clubs and business groups. Someday, when you get stuck or when something goes wrong, these contacts will be the people you’ll turn to for help.
Whether you’re a start-up or have been operating for a few years, building your network allows you to look for smart, supportive partners and employees who understand and share your goals for the business.
When I started Student magazine as a teenager, I worked with a small group of other students. Their tireless support and our camaraderie was invaluable as we got the magazine going. Some of us continued to work together for decades, and I count these people among my closest friends.
Finally, you’re also going to need a network of peers, so don’t be wary of making friends with your competition. When you see other people achieving similar goals, you will be reminded that your own plans and dreams are possible.
And if you are feeling daunted by a task, there’s no better encouragement than learning that somebody else has already achieved something similar.
In my experience, moments like those have been the tipping point for many new business ventures and growth points, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition!
Continuing to grow
Once you’re a successful business leader, it’s time to start championing undiscovered talent yourself. I get a real sense of pleasure from seeing talented people realise their ambitions and grow professionally and personally. As I’ve learnt; in the process you can gain new insights and discover fresh approaches to doing business by simply discussing how things work. After all, continuing to network means continuing to grow.
Why I Never Meet Someone For Coffee
The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.
First off, I need to make clear that I am not against meeting people for coffee or even drinking coffee. My issue is that I’ve learned that the offer to go get coffee usually means that somebody wants something from me. Whether it is time, money or to help them make a connection, an offer to grab a drink almost always has some ulterior motive behind it.
You might think that I flat out don’t want to help others, but the real issue is the other opportunities that I have in front of me. I have a lot on my plate, so dedicating the time to a “quick” coffee meeting does not make much sense.
Say no to getting coffee
Hours spent in the office doing business are not the time to sit back, relax or socialise. I try to be as efficient, effective and statistically successful as possible during work hours (and beyond). The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.
I rarely take anyone up on the offer to “do lunch” during work hours. Just consider the amount of time that it takes to get to and from a coffee or lunch meeting, and how much business could be done in that same time.
Then, think about the inefficiencies of utilising that time for things such as small talk, even before you get to the critical business issue.
Have an objective in mind
I have the objective to try and keep every phone call to a maximum of five minutes. When it comes to in-person meetings, I prefer them to take place at my office or overlapping other meetings I have outside the office, which I call “holding court.”
Even then, I try to keep those meetings to 20 minutes long. This allows me to fit in as many meetings or calls as possible. So many people make the excuse that they are “doing business” and then leave the office to do unimportant things, or overlap their meetings around errands.
Make no mistake, I’m not advising against meeting people in person. I’m saying take control of the business opportunity and have them come to you, or meet them somewhere convenient when you are outside of the office.
No coffee, just grind
The majority of lunch and coffee meetings that take place are nothing but an inefficient use of time. I would suggest not only rejecting such meetings during work hours, but to also stop asking for coffee meetings unless they’re absolutely necessary.
How do you determine whether or not a meeting is necessary? Take a look at the reasons and impacts the meeting can have. If these outweigh the potential drawbacks of an in-person meeting, then it is acceptable to ask. Make sure that you focus on making efficiency a key principle when chasing your objectives.
Stay focused in on critical business issues and you will find that focus will provide you with everything you desire in business and life.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Great Places To Take Your Clients When Networking
Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.
Do you live in South Africa and work at a job that entails taking clients out while networking? Are you tired of doing the same activities over and over? Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.
Introduce Them to Casino Action and Fun
There’s no better way to make a splash with your clients than by taking them to one of the many casinos found in South Africa. Between the cities of Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Queenstown, Pretoria, and Sun City there are more than 15 casinos to check out. Casinos offer a light and fun atmosphere that is perfect for letting loose. At the same time, they aren’t too loud, which means you can go ahead and sneak in a little shop talk.
Besides the casinos, you can also take your clients to horse races and even bingo. If the casino action is a big hit with them, be sure to let them know there are a large amount of South African online casinos that offer all the same types of games, plus a whole lot more.
Enjoy a Sports Game
Professional sports events are another fabulous spot to take your clients. You get that laid back casual atmosphere that allows you to stray from the traditional business attire, it’s a chance to get out of the office, and you can introduce your client to your own home team.
South Africa is well-known around the world for its love of sports. Among the most popular are rugby, cricket, and soccer. If you want to take them to the most popular sport in the country, however, soccer is the clear winner. Loftus Versveld and Ellis Park are two stadiums that are known to draw in some very rowdy crowds. Just be sure to get your tickets well in advance so you don’t end up disappointing your client.
Share the Local Cuisine
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your client out for a meal, this particular option tends to be over-done. In order to make yours a memorable experience, skip the chain restaurants and typical locations and instead introduce your client to local and authentic cuisine. These are the places the tourists don’t tend to visit, but the locals know all about.
Plan an Adventure Tour
Before you go ahead and choose this option, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about your client in advance. Not everyone is up to adventure activities, so you want to be sure you don’t put them in an uncomfortable position.
Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking
If you’ve got the green light, however, there are all kinds of activities you can take part in. Adventures can include a private helicopter tour, paragliding, zip-lining, a shark watching tour, a private surfing lesson, whale watching, kayaking, a sightseeing tour (by bus, car, or foot), bicycling, hiking, snorkelling, horseback riding on the beach, or even High Tea in Cape Town.
All of these ideas are unique and memorable so you know the visit will leave a lasting impression in your client’s mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box
When it comes to entertaining your clients while you spend time networking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. Coming up with unique ideas is sure to leave that lasting impression in their mind, which is exactly what you are striving for.
The Top 10 Behaviours To Avoid When Networking
There are some things that you should and should not do while networking – it’s important to know the difference.
In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Ivan Misner goes over the 10 behaviours that you should not exhibit in a networking group.
Sharing your problems and grievances with fellow networkers and guests is not a good idea while meeting and socialising with others in the group. Winging presentations, being late and using your phone are other things to avoid, too.
Networking is key to the success of a company. In fact, a single referral source can bring a chain reaction of new business to your company. That’s why it’s vital to make your time and efforts worthwhile in networking groups.
Success in these groups will happen when the rest of the group members trust enough to open up their best referrals. That’s why it’s vital to avoid these behaviours and demonstrate professionalism.
To learn more, click play.
Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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