A study conducted by LinkedIn found that 85% of jobs are secured through networking as opposed to traditional application processes. Networking is fundamental – not just when it comes to getting a foot in the door – but at every level of business.
As I’ve mentioned before, a rebel entrepreneur tends to emotionalise their goals and use objectives and key results (OKRs) to make these goals a reality. However, a ‘people plan’ is often omitted from the OKR equation. When you’re writing down your goals, ensure that you factor in the people who are critical to bringing your vision to fruition. If you have a brilliant idea for a business for instance, think about the key people you will need to make it happen. The next step is to consider how you can strengthen and deepen these people connections authentically.
Networking is not about introducing yourself to new people or handing out your business card. In order for networking to work for you, there must be real substance to it.
Keith Ferrazzi encourages entrepreneurs to strengthen relationships over long dinners. These meetings allow you to sit down with the people who can help, and show them the real you. There is truth in the saying “break bread with someone and then can never say no to you”. Let them know your aspirations. Networking is a two-way street, so reciprocal kindness and honesty are essential.
Don’t try to sell yourself to potential mentors, investors or employees as, more often than not, it will be fruitless. Remember that everyone loves to chat about what’s going on in their life, so a rebel entrepreneur will invite the other person to talk about themselves. They focus on building honest relationships with those who can help them achieve their goal.
A long dinner will help you build a trusting, genuine relationship, that will in turn propel your product or service. The caveat of networking is that you must be generous – what you get out of the relationship will be directly proportional to what you put in. Networking is about making relationships work both ways.