As an entrepreneur, people are your most valuable resource. So, your ability to literally and figuratively call on people is an important asset to grow and maintain. With the onslaught of social media, maintaining a working relationship with many people has become increasingly easy. However, these media platforms should not entirely replace the networking that takes place in everyday life. The Venn Diagram of friends and family, professional coworkers and social peers that make up your network currently can become an opportunity to grow yourself and your business through business ventures, mentorship, advice or other connections.
Troy D’Ambrosio is the executive director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute as well as a practiced entrepreneur with ventures ranging from mining corporations to telecom companies. In his workshop titled “Make the Most of People as Resources,” D’Ambrosio shared his top tips on the matter:
1. “The important thing about building a network is that you have to do it deliberately. And you have to think about how you put yourself in front of the people you want to meet.”
Seek the professional network that can help you accomplish your goals through volunteer groups, community organizations, school clubs, internships, societies and conferences. Establish yourself beyond a resume by offering your time and ideas in leadership roles.
2. “Find ways to meet a whole different group of people, because you’re going to build new networks and activities there.”
You can obtain different experiences, professional skills and contacts by expanding beyond the type of people you most commonly interact with.
3. “You have to keep in contact with the people already in your network, and make sure it’s two-way: you have to support them and they have to support you.”
In your journey as a professional, you will undoubtedly receive mentorship and favors. To give thanks and keep that window of opportunity open, check in with these people through regularly scheduled emails and phone calls. Your success becomes important when they invest their time into you. Make sure you’re always asking how you can help people in your network as well as asking people to help you.
4. “When you are networking, every one of those little interactions is a job interview.”
Ask yourself defining and strategic questions in preparation for any event you attend: Who are you going to talk to? What about? How do you present yourself? Thoughtful involvement is key.
Every person and every idea needs a support system. Mutual interest goes a long way; you are just as much a part of others’ network as they are of yours. Be tactical and strategic in your networking, but remember that this includes room for spontaneity.
Want more tips like these? Attend our regular Workshops program events at Lassonde Studios. We have guest experts presenting on a wide range of topics. Learn more about the program and see what workshops are coming up at lassonde.utah.edu/workshops.