After attending my third networking event of the week, I realised that networking is one of the most valuable uses of my time in terms of return—and not just in monetary terms.
Networking is free, most of the time. It’s full of like-minded individuals, and if you go to the right events, it’s full of people that you can work with or learn from in some way.
Again, you do get the odd events where people just end up trying to sell something to you, but I’m glad to say I’m coming across these less and less. Most of these social networking events provide a laid back atmosphere to chat with similar people, and these informal chats often lead to many opportunities and potential ways you can work together.
What’s better is that face-to-face networking events create lasting impressions in the minds of people you meet. I mean, ultimately, it’s not about whom you know, but rather who knows you, right?
This can always lead to future opportunities for both parties, in terms of help, advice and business. It can also motivate you go further, take the plunge into starting your own business or just expand your industry knowledge.
After networking events, make sure to stay connected with those that you meet. Take a look at the business cards you received and email those people about what you spoke about while it is still fresh in your mind.
You may feel you are to busy to attend these events, but they act as a nice break from being stuck in front of a computer. And sometimes they can count as being at work because you are inevitably spreading the name of your business across an audience that can add value to your business—and it’s a great chance to learn something and get ideas.
You will see the value in forming and maintaining a strong contact base, which will serve you well for years to come.
There are many strong startup communities around the world now, and in times of economic uncertainty I truly believe that these communities have helped each startup progress in this period that can be challenging for many.
It is even more valuable for young entrepreneurs to attend these events and learn from more experienced entrepreneurs and investors as well as building useful contacts.
We have an event at Your Hidden Potential called YHP Connect, where we bring together aspiring young entrepreneurs and those who have been there and done that. It is a small event that promotes a more intimate networking session, where everyone can talk to each other and with the speakers who discuss challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
Remember, networking events give you the chance to relax and socialize for a few hours in what is a time when working on your startup can include working long into the night. And better still, it counts as work.
You’re marketing your business and yourself, and best of all you are creating connections.
These events are all about mutual benefits. How can you offer a service or help another? There will be times when you may need help or advice, and you will want to have built a strong network.
There is a reason why many angels and VCs insist on creating a startup with a co-founder—it’s because the majority of the time, two heads are better than one. And guess what? This scales. The knowledge and help of a community will pay dividend.
Your net worth is only as good as your network.