How to Network For Those Who Hate to Network
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For an entrepreneur, networking is one of the most essential elements of scaling up. It helps the founder meet new investor or mentors or even peers who help them with brighter ideas for their business growth. But for an introvert or someone who hates to network, it can be a difficult task. They detest the idea of going to networking sessions even though it is important for their start-up to grow and build partnerships.
If you are one of them, here are a few tips from the pros of networking about how to not just make your way through the crowd but also stand out.
Know Your Peers
When you are attending an event, it is important for you to know before you reach the venue as to who are the others who will be present there. This will help you create a list of topics to talk about and know more about, believes Srikanth Soni, Country Lead, Headstart Network Foundation. “You need to understand the gathering of the event, you cannot be talking jargons in front of early entrepreneurs or fluff around in front of experts. You need to be able to talk in a language that your audience understands,” he said.
Having an understanding about the people who are attending the event will also help you prepare about what you want from the event. “Make a list of things you want to get out of the networking session and bring in focus and clarity about the event. Being prepared will also help you know whether the conversation is going the right way,” said Monika Misra, co-founder and General Manager of iKeva. Misra believes in the power of networking, for that’s how she found her co-founder and even her angel investor.
Converse, Don’t Brag
While talking to people at an event, one needs to know how to address them. Soni believes that bringing in a personal touch to the conversation is essential. “Talk to people by addressing them by their name, this will make the conversation smooth and will also help you remember the points of the conversation,” he said.
Soni also has another important point to add – do not end up bragging about your venture as that can put people off.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
For most people, the toughest part about networking is getting out of your comfort zone and conversing with people to get more mileage for your start-up. An easy way out of this is to tag along with a friend who has been there done that, believes Misra. “Go to the event with a friend who understands networking and will help you mingle with others,” she said.
Another point to keep in mind (which most start-up founders usually ignore) is to dress for the occasion, said Soni. “If you want to gel along with the crowd, you need to be smartly dressed for the event. If it’s a black tie event, make sure you are dressed in a suit or if it’s an informal event, don’t be overdressed,” he added.
A Good Listener is A Great Networker
For Shubham Rai, founder of NoddApp, it was learning the value of networking that helped him even build a start-up that's all about networking. And one valuable lesson he has learnt over the years is that while networking, one should listen more. While at an event, one should be able to empathize with juniors or salespersons present as well. "Understand the pain areas of the person you are talking to, that's when the person opens up. I have been able to interact with people who are seniors and they have given me a very different perspective to life," said Rai.
Another point to keep in mind is the environment of the place. If you want to catch up with a Chief Finance Officer or a Chief Technology Officer, it is important that you meet up with them at events which interest them, said Rai. Make sure that place is of comfort for a non-networker.