Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

7 Networking Tips

It’s not what you know or who you know, but who knows you. Susan RoAne

Having a strong network is important in the business world. But, it’s even more important if you aim to be an entrepreneur. Having a strong network is only the start, though. Entrepreneurs should perpetually be working on growing their network. You never know what new contact can help you take your business to the next level or introduce you to someone in media who can get your business more exposure. The reasons go on, as you can imagine.

An undergraduate at Simmons College recently asked me how I started and gradually began to know a lot of people in the community. I explained to her that its quite simple and networking events are a great way to start. As a college student myself, I’ve come to realize that this is the perfect time to start, even if you aren’t starting a company.

Here are 7 networking tips to help you get started in Boston:

1. Read “Schmoozing is a contact sport, by Guy Kawasaki. His 9 networking tips will help you work the crowd, engage in meaningful conversations, and build relationships. My 3 favorite points are: A. “Ask good questions, then shutup.” B. “Unveil your passions.” C. And, “Follow up.”

2. Read the headlines and know what’s going on. You should be doing this anyway to get a sense of what’s working and what isn’t in today’s economy. But, the news is bound to come up. It event makes for a good conversation starter to ask people what they thought about the latest news on Twitter of Facebook. TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Xconomy are great places to start. But, here’s several other blogs that entrepreneurs should be reading.

3. Find good events to attend. Now that you know what’s going on and have some tips in hand, here are several free events and listings you can start with:

A. Web Innovators Group

B. Clean Economies

C. Mass Innovation Nights

D. Mass Tech Leadership Council

E. Stay In MA

F. MarksGuide

G. 10 Resources for Entrepreneurs in Boston

H. Search

4. Have business cards. Now that you’ve found an event, make sure you have busienss cards. It’s an obvious one, but you’d be suprised as to how many people don’t carry enough on themselves. Have a good tagline and make sure they know why you’re there, how you can help them, and how they might be able to help you. Just as important it is for you to have their contact, they need to have yours. A good tagline, or even a brief sentence of who you are, will help them remember who you are. There’s no excuse, you can even get free business cards made at VistaPrint.

5. Talk to people, but don’t talk to everyone. Some people think the aim of the game is to speak to as many people as possible. But, its not how many people you speak to, it’s how many people you can build relationships with. It’s more important if you have 5 good conversations and 3 people end up staying in touch instead of having 20 weak conversations and only end up staying in touch with 1 person.

6. Follow up with an email. Ironically, not too many people do this. It’s an easy way to immediately set yourself apart. Anyway, what’s the point of networking unless you follow up? They don’t have to be long and can be as simple as pointing them to your blog or Twitter feeds.

7. Build your online web pressence. Be sure to add people to Facebook, LinkedIn, email contacts, and Twitter so you can continue the conversation. Again, make sure your pages are set up so that people understand who you are and why they should know you.

Fan Bi is a guest blogger and Babson ‘09 Alum who started Blank Label, an e-commerce site for custom dress shirts, with an application to design your own custom dress shirts online.