- Thursday, 21 November 2013
- Written by Wheeler del Torro
There’s nothing like the word “networking” to elicit a groan from entrepreneurs. While networking isn’t everyone’s favorite part of business, it is essential. When it comes to winning new business, hiring, or gaining access, it’s all about who you know.
Most people will pay more to work with someone they like over someone new. Your personal brand can make or break your success, and you build and advertise your brand through networking. And unless you’re a super connector, you probably aren’t networking as effectively as you should.
Here are three red flags that your networking efforts aren’t working in your favor:
1. Radio Silence after Attending Events
If you go to events and feel like you’re making connections, you should experience a reciprocal response from new contacts. They should want to reach out to you through phone calls and emails. If you’re not hearing back from new contacts, two things could have gone wrong: your content or presentation (or both!).
Review conversations with new contacts. Did you spend more time talking about yourself or asking questions? Did you inquire about their projects or areas of shared interest? If you don’t have a clear picture of their current projects and goals, you did not give them enough reason to follow up with you. Emphasize what you have to offer to encourage communication.
2. Nothing to Say in Follow-Up Conversations
After you make a great connection at an event and receive a follow-up call, do you struggle to think of next steps? Once you’ve connected with someone and communicated your value, listen before you push an agenda.
You already have some idea of how you can help each other so next, you need to pay attention to what people tell you about their passions, values, opportunities, and challenges so you can figure out more ways to fit together and help each other. If you’re constantly waiting for your opening to make a pitch, you’ll miss opportunities to create shared value.
3. Relationships Ending after One or Two Interactions
Perhaps you make a great first impression, but acquaintances drift away shortly after your initial contact. After you get someone interested, it’s essential that you continue to demonstrate enough value to keep them engaged and form personal connections.
Networking is most valuable as an ongoing process of give-and-take. It should also be enjoyable. We’re talking about relationships here, not trips to the dentist. You must be in it for the long haul and plan to keep in touch with people you like.
Fixing the Problems
If any of these problems sounds familiar, don’t feel bad. There are plenty more people out there to meet, and there are some strategies you can use in a proactive way — rather than just waiting for the next networking event.
Everyone likes to be included. Invitations — unlike cold calls or emails — often elicit a positive reaction. Next time there’s a cultural event or you host a private party, invite individuals you would like to build business relationships with.
It doesn’t even matter whether they attend. What matters is that you have reached out in a positive way, which will often make them more willing to take your call or see your presentation in the future. Invitations also present natural follow-up opportunities. If they attend, you can send a thank-you note. If they don’t, you can say you’re sorry they couldn’t make it and invite them to another event. Either way, you present yourself as someone who is considerate and involved in the community.
Food is too often added as an afterthought to business events, but it’s incredibly beneficial as a main event. Food makes people feel welcome, relaxed, and valued. It aids conversation and helps break down barriers.
Form a group at your current business and take turns providing lunch or choosing new restaurants to try together. This can deepen the relationships you already have and help you learn about new opportunities. If you enjoy cooking, host dinner parties for something more intimate. Everyone has to eat, which makes food a great tool for creating unique networking opportunities.
Ask Not What They Can Do for You…
But what you can do for them! The most important step in a new business relationship is to be viewed as positive and valuable. Networking like a pro will benefit both parties over time, but first, you have to stand out. Adopting a “How can I help?” focus will lead to a more positive and approachable impression.
Once you make that initial contact, share a meal, work to form a genuine connection, and listen rather than launching into a pitch. Your acquaintances will remember you in a positive light, and you might even make some friends along the way.
Wheeler del Torro started his career by hosting pop-ups and dinner parties, which led him to invest in small companies. He currently spends most of his time traveling across the globe to host pop-up restaurants and workshops on how to start a business. He wants to educate entrepreneurs on all aspects of starting a business, from conceiving an idea to gaining funding.
- Tuesday, 12 November 2013
- Written by Joyce Sadler
In 2010, there were 27.9 million small businesses in the U.S., with 6 million of those employing between one and 499 people in addition to the owner, notes the Tax Policy Center. If you have aspirations of owning your own small business, or perhaps one day even a large corporation, you probably realize it can be a rather daunting and frequently expensive endeavor.
The good news is Uncle Sam can help ease the financial pain, which could make it more feasible for you to get started sooner rather than later. Entrepreneurs can write off startup costs, which can make the difference between moving forward and putting off your dream.
- Tuesday, 05 November 2013
- Written by Puneet Lakhi
No human is perfect, and as such failure at some point or another, is failure. Some mistakes are more serious than others, but overall, what's more important isn't how much or how big you fail, but instead how you react or bounce back from failure.
We asked 11 young entrepreneurs what advice they would each most like to share with others about failure. Just because they are successful entrepreneurs now doesn't mean they aren't experts on failure. In fact, many would argue that failure is often an unavoidable and vital step on the road to success.
- Tuesday, 22 October 2013
- Written by James Albaugh
Crowdfunding has only been around for less than 10 years, and it has quickly grown into serving as a major source of startup capital for entrepreneurs. Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Rockethub were three of the original crowdfunding platforms. Kickstarter has swept ahead of other sites raising more than $283 million for 68,878 projects in 2012, acknowledges Alley Watch.
Use the following three tips from successful Kickstarter projects as a guide on how to use crowdfunding to raise capital for your business.
- Tuesday, 08 October 2013
- Written by Angie Picardo
Developing a formal business plan used to be standard practice when starting a new business. This was particularly true for entrepreneurs and small-business owners hoping to attract venture capital or angel investments, or get a loan from a bank. In recent years, this approach has been up for debate with many entrepreneurs rejecting the traditional business plan as an antiquated and useless document.
- Thursday, 03 October 2013
- Written by YEC
Many aspiring young entrepreneurs want to start their own companies so that they can take control of their own futures. Entrepreneurship has one of the highest levels of job satisfaction, even though it typically has long hours and stressful conditions. Owning your own company and having more control over it's direction adds more meaning and motivation, especially for many young people, who are often underappreciated in entry level corporate jobs. However, many have a tough time finding an industry to startup within that is growing, and has a lot of potential for success. Here are 10 growing industries to consider starting up within:
- Wednesday, 02 October 2013
- Written by Andrea Riddell
Despite the risks – or, perhaps, because of them – startups are attracting people eager for the challenges and rewards that come with being a part of something from the very beginning and helping to build it up.
You might not be able to get a company sponsored steak dinner, or corporate retreats, but working in a startup has its own advantages. And, while they might not have the same reputation (yet!) as a Fortune 500 dynasty, many workers are still eager to get their hands dirty in smaller ventures and startups.
- Wednesday, 11 September 2013
- Written by Nolan Greenspan
Once upon a time, if an employee wanted to use technology to stay productive, they had to get what the company gave them and well, that was it. Back in those days, businesses had to figure out a standard to base its computer environment on, right down to the devices and software. Along came the concept of BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device.” On the surface, it’s a relatively simple concept. Instead of worrying about issuing mobile devices and software to employees, they bring their own into the workplace. But dig deeper, and the concept gets a little more complicated.
- Tuesday, 03 September 2013
- Written by YEC
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
We asked 11 members of the YEC what startup accounting tips they had, and have compiled their responses below, so that hopefully you can avoid the same mistakes and be better prepared.
- Tuesday, 13 August 2013
- Written by YEC
One of the first steps of any start up looking to expand is finding and setting up a workspace. But it's important to do it right in order to maximize productivity, increase retention among employees, and foster a creative work environment.
We asked 10 successful young entrepreneurs to fill us in on what they thought was the most important physical aspects of an office space. Their answers are below:
- Wednesday, 07 August 2013
- Written by Sarah Boisvert
No two companies are the same, but some general guidelines will help you determine when it is time to invest in Customer Relationship Management [CRM] software. A powerful tool for marketing, sales, and customer service, CRM offers advantages at various stages of your company’s growth, and perhaps is most important in a company’s early stages when resources are scarce.
The integration of good CRM principles, regardless of the platform, also create a solid foundation upon which the enterprise can grow.
- Monday, 05 August 2013
- Written by Sarah Boisevert
Strong, clear job descriptions are key if new employees are to be successful. While the goal should not be to micro-manage the execution of tasks, the more specific and encompassing the job description, the better chance the employee has of meeting your goals.
Here are 10 tips to help you in writing the most specific and encompassing job descriptions.
- Monday, 29 July 2013
- Written by Luke Howes
One of the hardest things in a new business is managing the money and cash flow situation. You need to have enough money in the bank to pay all your current obligations (like wages, rent and supplier bills) while also having the money to invest in future growth.
It’s a situation with no single correct answer and one that is approached differently by every entrepreneur. But you’re going to have to tackle it from the very early days of your business – and possibly before you even start – so the more information you’re prepared with, the better decisions you can make.
- Wednesday, 17 July 2013
- Written by Stefan Loewer
The world in which we work is changing and it is almost unrecognizable from what it was even just a few years ago. With so many people working from remote locations, or starting their own small businesses, it seems that there is no longer any need for traditional office blocks.
Instead people are turning more towards virtual offices, but are they all they are cracked up to be? Let's compare them to a more traditional office and see which one comes out on top.
- Monday, 08 July 2013
- Written by Melissa Gray
While an excellent product or service is key to getting market share of business, don't underestimate the importance of a clean, well-designed website in attracting and keeping customers.
Getting customers to convert by buying your product, signing up for your seminar, or completing any other desired action takes skill that requires you to think about your website from the end user's perspective. Try these five tips to increase your conversion rate on your website.