THERE is a well-known saying that goes: “People do business with people they know, like and trust”. This couldn’t be truer for entrepreneurs starting out in the market. But where and how can a start-up entrepreneur make these connections with people to grow their business? Tradelane Managing Director Betsy Ings explains.

(Net)-work the room

If no one knows who you are, they can’t help you. Networking is one of the best word-of-mouth forms of advertising you can invest in, while building connections and getting to know people in a professional business environment. Although building a professional network doesn’t happen overnight, you could see some short-term results in your business as soon as you start networking.

Networking can serve sales-related purposes e.g. meeting new prospects, getting personal referrals and creating active ambassadors for your brand. However, it can also serve non-sales-related purposes like finding a new job/career, receiving visibility, getting fresh, new ideas as well as getting invitations to exclusive events and speaking engagements.

Know the rules of the game

It is important to know and follow a couple of golden rules of networking etiquette. Keep in mind that building a good reputation, like-ability and trust with potential business partners will take time, patience and hard work.

Networking with a purpose is more than meeting as many people as possible. It is about discovering what you may have in common and exploring ways to work together.

If you try to sell too hard at a networking event, you will just annoy whoever you are speaking to and miss out on potential business relationships. Don’t go into a networking event with a sales pitch and no interest whatsoever in anyone or anything else.

Networking is not:
• A place to pick up men/women;
• A place to tell your life story;
• A place to gossip, lie or chew gum;
• A place to get drunk or disorderly;
• A place to argue, be critical or rude.

This is the first of a two-part blog dealing with the ins and outs of Networking.