Home Business NewsBusiness It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week! Discover the secrets to successful networking

It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week! Discover the secrets to successful networking

by LLB Editor
17th Nov 14 9:00 am

As GEW 2014 kicks off, business coach Rasheed Ogunlaru reveals his top networking tips and what’s coming up at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre

Brought to you in partnership with the British Library’s Business & IP Centre

Love it or loathe it, you have to network.

Done right, networking brings about important connections and lasting relationships that help to grow a business.

In fact, business coach and partner at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre, Rasheed Ogunlaru, says that 90% of the businesspeople he works with tell him that central to growing their business is effective networking and meeting people directly.

“Even in an age of social media, nothing beats real relationships with real people in real circumstances,” says Ogunlaru. “This is particularly true for small businesses.”
(Scroll down for Ogunlaru’s top tips for networking.)

So it’s only natural that the theme for this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week is ‘Get Connected’. And how can entrepreneurs connect themselves better?

That’s just one of the themes the Business & IP Centre will be exploring this week, in their full programme of events timed to support GEW 2014 that includes inspirational business figures like Ryanair’s Kell Ryan, Carphone Warehouse chairman Sir Charles Dunstone and designer Anya Hindmarch.

And of course the Business & IP Centre is well connected too, with a network of Centres across the UK – including Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. And people not in those cities can still take part; the Centre is broadcasting daily webinars covering everything from starting-up to intellectual property to social media. Find out more here.

And there’s plenty going on outside of Global Entrepreneurship Week too – like The British Library’s ‘Innovating for Growth’ small business support programme. Businesses taking part find that one of the most useful parts of the programme is the bi-monthly Growth Club which gives them a chance to network with more than 200 other businesses who have taken part in the programme. Many have made new contacts, gained new business and had the opportunity to swap skills with people who can really make a difference to their business. What are you waiting for?

To kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014, here are Ogunlaru’s top tips on how to improve networking – and boost your career and business as a result.

Don’t be put off by networking’s bad name
“Networking has a bad name, because many people are bad at it and do it badly! But good networking isn’t about shoving business cards in people’s hands and trying to get a quick win and quick sale,” says Ogunlaru. “It’s about building warm, rich, mutually beneficial and long term lasting contacts.”

Have a clear networking strategy
For Ogunlaru, networking should be integrated into the overall strategy of your business. “Have a clear strategy of what you’re trying to achieve in your business over all, and the people and connections you’re trying to meet,” he says. “Identify the types of people you’re looking to connect with. Have a strategy.”

Don’t expect to make a dozen useful contacts in one evening
“It’s not a numbers game!” says Ogunlaru. “I usually make three to four useful contacts from an event. Try to find the people you want to meet early on so you don’t risk being side-tracked.”

Don’t be scared to excuse yourself
Escaping from somebody that’s boring you or just taking up too much of your time can be a tricky manoeuvre, but it doesn’t have to be: “Just say ‘it’s been lovely to chat to you, now I’m going to move on.’ Do it warmly and genuinely and you’ll be fine.”

Identify the right environments for networking
For city dwellers – especially in London – there are dozens of networking events on any one evening. But how to choose the one that’s right for you? “Wherever you can, choose an event that has a mix of potential customers, alongside key decision makers from your industry and your industry peers,” says the business coach. “Cast your net wide and try a few, until you find the one that works for you.”

Arrive early and visualise yourself being relaxed
This tip is especially good for people uncomfortable with networking. “Arrive early, then everybody has to meet you, it’s not you having to meet everybody else. You’ll meet one or two people straight away and be instantly more confident.”

See the Business & IP Centre’s full programme events

Discover more about the Centre’s ‘Innovating for Growth’ small business support programme

Brought to you in partnership with the British Library’s Business & IP Centre

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