Running a business doesn’t work by navigating a world that’s solely yours, and treating the rest of the world as your competitors. Industry leaders gained such a status by reaching out to their fellow entrepreneurs, establishing a professional relationship with them, and joining their efforts. Suffice to say, you’re missing out a lot if you don’t take advantage of networking.
Networking is the process of interacting with people — in this case, other entrepreneurs or companies — with the same interests as you to exchange information and forge a professional relationship. Many amazing opportunities can be opened through networking, such as growing your business and forming a partnership.
But before engaging in the art of networking, it’s essential to develop your personality first. Making a connection doesn’t end in trading unique and artful letterpress business cards. This guide discusses the secrets of forging a business connection, the different entrepreneurial personality traits, and how to develop them.
How to Succeed in Making a Business Connection
1. Do Your Research
Similar to acing a job interview, researching beforehand is also crucial in your first meeting with a potential professional contact. Gather key information about them and their business so that you’d gain an idea on how you can appeal to them, or what offers will entice them.
2. Follow-up Within 48 Hours
After your first meeting, your potential professional contact will appreciate if you’d follow up with them within 48 hours. Delaying it may lead them to assume that you didn’t regard the meeting highly, and that’s the last kind of impression you want to leave.
3. Be Straightforward
Cut to the chase right away. Your potential professional contact has to be convinced that they’ll be missing out without your service or expertise. Of course, do this without insinuating that their business won’t thrive without you, but rather, emphasize how your connection will benefit both of you.
4. Skip the Small Talk
Creating a friendly atmosphere is also essential, but don’t do it through small talk. Find a conversation topic related to your businesses so that you’d naturally transition to the offer. If you’re selling products, it would be advantageous to give away a free sample.
5. Be Confident
Confidence is the key to making a lasting impression. If you are in a seminar or expo, for example, approach other entrepreneurs and introduce yourself confidently. Some professional connections may be forged through spontaneous means, so don’t waste any opportunity.
Developing Your Entrepreneurial Personality
The five personality traits every entrepreneur must have are passion, motivation, optimism, creativity, and being a risk-taker. Unsurprisingly, all these traits boil down to being street-smart rather than book-smart.
You can develop all these traits by enhancing your interpersonal skills. This means overcoming your shyness in meeting new people, being a good conversationalist, and honing your presentation skills. All these traits can be acquired and improved through daily interactions with your suppliers, customers, and even friends.
If you’ve worked in a corporate setting before being an entrepreneur, your experiences in interacting with your higher-ups are your stepping stones in initiating conversations with industry leaders, who might be your next professional contact.
You can also attend workshops or read self-help books to develop your personality. With consistent practice and eagerness to learn, you will improve over time and be the best version of yourself, hence networking will become second nature to you. Entrepreneurial skills aren’t only useful in your professional life, but in all areas of your personal life as well.