Funding. Check. Business plan. Check. Brand creation. Check. Marketing strategies. Check. An entrepreneur faces plenty of steps to tackle while establishing a start-up. From installing your website using a premier Web hosting provider such as MyHosting VPS hosting to hiring qualified employees using a reliable recruiting agency such as Aerotek, starting your business is a lofty task. As your start-up begins to take off, don’t forget one essential part of growing your business: networking.

Why Network, Really?

If you’re establishing relationships with other businesses and entrepreneurs within your industry, then you’re already networking. Networking is making and cultivating connections throughout your professional community. As a start-up public relations firm, seminars and workshops can expose your brand and services to other prominent PR professionals in the industry.  As a new family-owned interior design company, building relationships with other designers, architects, home decorators, showroom owners and renovation contractors will help your business flourish.

Networking leads to:

  • Fresh ideas and best practices
  • Profitable partnerships
  • The latest trends occurring in your industry
  • New referrals and contacts
  • Shared resources

Whether you’re networking locally, nationally or online, your business relationships can present an array of opportunities. Various types of opportunities can be new talent and prospects, diverse perspectives and insights, enhanced visibility and word-of-mouth publicity. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of all that networking has to offer?

How to Network the Right Way

As you start to make your presence known in your industry, practice the following do’s and don’ts for networking:

Do’s

  • As much as you have something to gain from networking, also make sure you have something to offer. A business relationship is a mutually beneficial connection. Understand the needs of your connection. Offer favors that are realistic and valuable.
  • Dedicate time to regularly tap into a variety of networking opportunities. Attending an event and then falling out of touch diminishes your credibility and dependability.
  • Utilize social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. These sites provide a wide range of Internet marketing and networking opportunities. Your absence or inactivity on social media websites excludes your business from competition, prospects and brand exposure.
  • Be proactive. Join professional organizations and associations. Participation in local, state and national organizations expands your network, which leads to a wider range of ideas, advice and information. Research online to find conferences and seminars that would be the most beneficial to attend.

Don’ts

  • Don’t offer promises that can’t be delivered. Helping others is a top networking goal, yet if you can’t follow through with a favor, then other businesses and professionals will have trouble trusting you.
  • Don’t attempt to meet, talk to and know everyone. Focus on fostering relationships that are relevant to your needs and theirs. From mentors and peers to partners and confidants, build a foundation of contacts that you feel will be supportive and essential in the long run.
  • Don’t take it personal. Business is business. You may hear no. You may be rejected. Like dating, you have to find the relationships that are good matches. Follow-up with someone you’re interested in building a business relationship with and be persistent using a variety of communication methods; however, if you’re doing all the work, then call it a lost connection and move on to the next.
  • Don’t only talk about or focus on yourself. Listen to the stories and experiences of other entrepreneurs. You’ll learn about what you can offer and gain as well as what to avoid or adopt as a business owner.