Five Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking is one of the lesser appreciated talents that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have mastered. It is not an easy skill, either. Knowing how to network is a fine line between making friends and actively seeking out business partnerships. You cannot become best friends with everyone you meet, after all, but you do need to make a good enough connection to trade favors with each other. Reaching that stage can be incredibly difficult because if you aren’t careful people will only see your efforts as wanting of something. To properly master the art that is networking, try adopting these top five tips.

Skip the Sales Speech

If you go into any new relationship with a goal to sell products or gain a favor, you will most likely fail. Only a very few people have mastered their charm to the point where people will be willing to help out or buy something new from the get-go, especially if they weren’t expecting you. So, skip the sales speech and instead start a conversation. It is far easier to connect with someone in an organic conversation than it is if you give them an elevator pitch.

Help First, Ask Later

One of the easiest tips to follow and arguably one of the best is to find out what you can do for someone else. Be proactive about networking. This way will help you make connections, diversify your portfolio and skills, and of course give you an acquaintance you can later ask for help. You don’t need to be best friends with people, but you do need to foster mutually beneficial relationships.

Take Notes and Keep Track

Try as best you can to keep track of information about the person in question. Keeping notes in your contacts app can help you stay in touch and give the personal touch all at the same time. Try to keep track of both corporate information (their job position, who they work for, etc.) as well as personal information (if they have allergies, for example). People respond when they feel like you care.


Another way to network is to collaborate. This way you can put effort into fostering one relationship, and then meet others in that niche or industry in a far more organic way – being introduced. As a bonus, you will also be working in a new field or project on the side that can further your career and show your ambition.

Host Your Own Event

Finally, consider hosting your own event. If you are a consultant or own business, for example, you can organize an event, create a great atmosphere, offer free drinks served by professional bartenders from services such as, and get key people from your industry to attend. Then, as the host, you can get to know each and every one of them with a position of authority. They will be interested in knowing you because you took the initiative to create a great event everyone in your industry will be talking about. In turn, you can make new business relationships and connections.

Networking is a never-ending task, but it should never be seen as a chore. Instead, connect with people. Try to gain insight from them, help them, collaborate, and even host them. By doing this you not only network with people, but you set yourself up as a huge name in your industry.

Ten Serious Career Networking Myths & Mistakes

Human connection and communication make the world go ’round – especially in business and the corporate environment. It’s impossible to have a successful business and career without the help and support of your coworkers, clients and community. Networking is an essential activity but it must be done conscientiously and with skill in order to be effective. Unfortunately, all too often people make the mistake of thinking networking isn’t worth their while or even worse, network with only their own interests in mind. The following ten statements are some of the most common misconceptions about networking and why they are so damaging. Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. “I don’t like to make contacts.” Making contacts is “the conscious and voluntary activity of establishing and maintaining genuine and long-term relationships with persons who we appreciate and respect.” It’s a part of living and interacting within a community and we do it every day!
  2. “Contacts are useful only to find work.” It’s a fact that 9 out of 10 jobs are landed, whether directly or indirectly, through contacts. But networking is about making those relationships worthwhile, renewing the bond and mutually redefining our identity, image and reputation with each interaction!
  3. “I network only when it’s convenient for me.” This is tantamount to saying “I remember you only when I need you.” Networking solely for your own benefit is self-centered and may be even manipulative. It’s the perfect way to destroy a relationship. People can smell manipulation miles away!
  4. “I’m too busy.” Although nothing beats face-to-face interactions to build relationships of trust and affection, digital alternatives are an effective way to prevent us from vanishing from the face of the earth, a deadly sin in the professional world.
  5. “It distracts me from serious work.” Networking takes time and energy but it is key to employability: it is the “sales force” of our image and reputation. Without contacts, our accomplishments and progress remain unknown and our personal brand ends up being worthless.
  6. “I don’t like to go to social events.” The professional world also provides alternatives to interact with new and diverse people, and expand your thinking patterns. Hanging out with the same people every day shows disregard for others and we may end up left behind.
  7. “You didn’t hear this from me but…” Using the contact network to harm reputations or to gossip destroys our credibility and our own reputation as serious or loyal individuals, even if we only become involved by listening. Is it worth it? You never know when gossip will come back to haunt you.
  8. “I can only afford to build relationships with important contacts.” It’s a serious mistake to think that only high-level contacts are valuable and look down on others or be arrogant. All people are worthy regardless of what they work on. There’s no such thing as a small contact!
  9. “I have very few contacts.” As adults, we usually have 500 to 1,000 friends and acquaintances between school and college classmates, work colleagues and former colleagues, people we know from our club, gym, the neighborhood, church, from our business, and the relatives and acquaintances of all of the above. Suppliers and clients, former suppliers and clients. Parents of our children’s friends… Make your list and protect it – ideally, in the cloud.
  10. “I must impress my contacts.” The essence of every good relationship is trust, not impressing others. Acting appropriately, and being genuinely warm and authentic opens the doors to trust and credibility. Being polite to everyone and listening to them with a real interest benefits your personal and professional image and reputation. The secret is to inspire others and always leave something valuable for them in every interaction!

Networking isn’t so much about making as many connections as possible, it’s about strengthening the connections you have, ensuring they become more meaningful and authentic. When you ditch the myths and avoid the above networking mistakes, not only will the connections your forge flourish but so will your personal brand and your career.

About the Author

Ines TempleInternationally-regarded, award-winning career success pundit, consultant and speaker Ines Temple is President of LHH – DBM Peru and LHH Chile—companies that are leading career transition and executive coaching organizations in their respective countries. She is also Chairman of the Board of CARE Peru, a leading non-profit humanitarian organization fighting the injustice of poverty with a special focus on disadvantaged girls. Temple is also a speaker at conferences and universities around the world due to her keen perspectives and insights, also making her a valued media expert source. She may be reached online at

Face-to-face networking is still the key to connections.

How important is face-to-face networking to sales, relationships, career, and success?

I asked my commercial insurance agent, John Cantrell, to give me a synopsis of his networking strategies. John has been a friend, client, and vendor for the past 22 years. Here are two important facts about John:
1. His insurance business has exploded with growth over the past 22 years.
2. He is a MAJOR business networker in Charlotte.

I wonder if these two facts are connected? (Hint: THEY ARE!)

I asked John to tell me what networking has meant to him and his business over the last 20 years. His immediate answer was, “It has been the foundation of my most valuable clients, friends, suppliers, and relationships!”

Here’s the background of how to succeed as a local business networker from arguably the toughest sales category on the planet: insurance.

Here is John’s story and tips in his own words:
When I started in the insurance business, the first things I did was join the Charlotte Chamber. I started in the insurance business in 1993 as a fresh graduate from East Carolina with a finance degree. My dad gave me an opportunity, a desk, a chair, and a salary with a declining scale. He wasn’t going to throw me into the 10 foot deep water immediately, but he did make the impact known that I had to learn how to eat what I kill.

Shortly after joining the Chamber, I was a little discouraged. One of my best friends, Richard Herd, and I were talking one day about me not continuing to participate in the Chamber. It was about six months after my joining and he said, “just stick it out, get involved, get on some committees, and see what happens after a year. If you don’t like it, I’ll pay for your membership.”
Little did I know that 20 years later some of the people that I met then would be my best friends and longest term clients. People like Richard Herd, Jeffrey Gitomer, Michael Meehan, Eileen Covington.

Here is John’s networking and leadership history in the Charlotte Chamber:

  1. Business Growth Network. Served on committees welcoming new members and meeting other small business owners.
  2. Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Committee Member and Chair for three years. Involved in selecting, interviewing, and running the event held at the Convention Center.
  3. Charlotte Chamber Business Owner Peer Group. For five years he met monthly with non-competing business owners to discuss business problems. How to hire, fire, train, and market business.
  4. Chamber New Member Orientation. For two years he chaired and led a monthly meeting to explain how the Chamber works for new members.
  5. Charlotte Area Councils. John has been involved in this for ten years and he’s still active at the monthly lunch meetings where they bring in a speaker and offer time to network.
  6. Business After Hours. Cocktails after work with other business professionals at different venues around town. Great way to keep friendships current.
  7. Charlotte Chamber Board of Advisor. A higher level membership that attracts more of the high-level business owners and managers.

John says, “It’s about the developing core networking places and participating, getting involved, and establishing a leadership position. But, everyone is different. Some people are morning people, and some are night owls. Work at your best system and process that lets you get the most done in the time that you dedicate to networking.”

Here are John’s other core networking groups described in his own words:
Rotary. I have been in Rotary clubs since 1997, where I was the founder of Mecklenburg South Rotary. Rotary has been a great organization to participate in. It is not a sales networking organization. It is a service club that gives you the opportunity to meet and network with others.
Leads groups. I have been in numerous different groups that have differing levels of success. One of the best things that you can do in those is use it as opportunities to build relationships with people that you trust and value and work in similar circles as you do.

NOTE FROM JOHN TO NEWCOMERS: When you are brand-new in the sales world, you don’t have a lot of things filling your calendar. Fill it with networking events and Chamber events. Fill it with opportunities to meet and build your network of people. The best strategy is to help them achieve the things they’re trying to achieve. Pay it forward and you’ll always get paid back.

NOTE FROM JEFFREY: Thank you John for providing your personal achievements. You are a model networker. I hope many other salespeople and businesspeople will follow your path.

About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website,, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

The risk of 9 to 5. And the reality of BEFORE and AFTER.

95 percent of all salespeople try to fit their sales day into a normal workday. They want their day to be from 9 to 5, maybe from 8 to 5, maybe even from 8 to 6, but very little before that or after that.

The reality is, that 9 to 5 is the riskiest time and the worst time to make sales. Especially a new sale, a sales call, or a cold call to a prospect. People are busy doing THEIR stuff from 9 to 5.

NOTE WELL: If you have a solid relationship with your customer, and are doing ongoing business, you have a good chance of making a daytime appointment. But a new sale, or a new prospect, you have virtually zero 9 to 5 chance.

And salespeople continually beat their heads against the wall, and sales managers continually demand more activity, even as foolish as cold call, in order to get their numbers up, when in fact numbers do not go up from 9 to 5, unless they are with existing customers.

From 9 to 5, people are busy working, not buying. Real salespeople make sales from 7 to 9 in the morning, and from five until seven or eight in the evening, and at breakfast and lunch.

Only about 5 percent of sales people get this. The 5 percent that make all the sales.

My financial planner, Walter Putnam says, “The best thing to know is: the best time to have meaningful conversation. And the best way to find out is to ask the prospect or customer. And get a date at the same time.” In other words, when you ask the question, make the appointment.

This self-assessment will reveal your opportunities or missed opportunities:

  • How many hours a week are you working or networking BEFORE the workday starts? Five hours a week is a great number.
  • How many hours a week are you working or networking AFTER the workday is over? Five hours a week is a great number.
  • Who are you meeting for early morning coffee? Why not have a daily coffee with a customer?
  • Who are you meeting for breakfast? Why not have 2 business breakfasts a week?
  • Who are you meeting for lunch? Have lunch with an existing customer once a week and bring a prospect for them.
  • Where are you networking before 9 and after 5? At least two events or groups per week.
  • Are you a member of a business development group like BNI? At least one group.
  • Where are your face-to-face meetings occurring in order to maximize your exposure, and your sales opportunities? Where are your sales taking place?
  • Who is NOT returning your calls? WHY?
  • Who is NOT setting an appointment? WHY?

These are challenge questions to determine the productive use of time before and after normal work hours. From 9-5 you’re busy chasing people, leaving voice mails, and being frustrated by a consistent lack of progress. More than half of your time will be wasted (you just don’t know which half).

Sales require relationship building. Not just for loyalty of existing customer base, but also to earn referrals and testimonials. Early and late sales meetings net positive outcomes. And early-late prospecting is MUCH MORE relaxed.

What can you do? Here are 7.5 things to enhance your relationships and your sales results. CAUTION: They require WORK.

1. Establish a mutually agreeable game plan with EACH existing customer. Not just how to sell, but also how you will help them.

2. Discover and document ‘best times,’ ‘best topics,’ and ‘most important.’

3. Reach and engage customers and prospects socially.

4. Meet for early morning coffee every day if you can.

5. Send a weekly value message to everyone.

6. GIVE referrals.

7. Seek leadership positions in every group you join.

7.5 Study your struggles and your successes. Identify where your last ten sales came from, because it’s likely your next ten will come from the same places.

The key point of understanding is the difference between a job in sales, and a dedicated, relationship based sales career. Which do you have?

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.

About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website,, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

How’s your networking working? Better if you follow the rules.

I went to a networking meeting last week hosted by a formal networking organization called Business Network International.

Many of you know this group. They have meetings all over the world. This particular chapter meeting was in New York City, and is populated by sophisticated business people who are on fire.

NOTE WELL: NYC business people, in general, take no prisoners. This BNI chapter takes no amateurs. And their meetings are exceptionally well structured.

I went as a guest – without an agenda – just to meet people and provide value.

HISTORY: I began my networking career more than 25 years ago, so I consider myself a relatively sophisticated meeting attendee. This particular meeting is a pure networking group, rather than a social networking event, like a Chamber of Commerce meeting or an association meting.

The group predominantly meets to give business and get business. My interest was to meet new people, and observe how the meeting was run.

Before we get too deep into BNI and the NYC group, I’d like to review some networking imperatives in case you’re about to go to one of these meetings.

NOTE WELL: Most people take networking for granted, and think of it more as a place to meet friends and clients rather than capture an opportunity. They also fail to realize that people, whether you know them or not, are cultivating an impression of you – not just about you look like, but also based on how you act and how you dress.

Your physical presence, your physiology, and your communication prowess can determine whether the outcome is business or no business.

These are my top 9.5 rules for achieving positive and profitable networking results:
1. I shake and look. When I shake someone’s hand, it’s a firm grasp and a direct look in the eye.
2. I smile. Even in New York City. I found that by giving smile, I get a smile.
3. I ask before I tell. Whether I ask for their name, or a simple “how are you?” I want to hear the other person before they hear me.
4. I give before I get. I have always tried to make connections for others before I ask for one myself.
5. I don’t make small talk. I make big talk. I don’t want to talk about the weather. I want to talk about life and business life.
6. I want to make certain that I take a ‘next step’ if the opportunity is there. Anything from a simple exchange of business cards, to a cup of coffee, to an office meeting, to an invite to a social event, I want to make sure that my objective is achieved before I leave to talk to the next person.
7. Known or unknown? That is the question. I prefer to invest the majority of my networking time with people that I do not know. The reason is that I tend to make small talk with people that I know, and bigger talk with people that I don’t know. My personal rule has always been, small talk leads to small business or no business, and big talk leads to big business, or the opportunity for big business.
8. I like everyone and qualify no one. If you like people, it’s likely they will like you back. If you try to qualify people (by asking them questions about money or circumstance), their guard will go up.
9. Every connection need not be a sale. Make friends, build rapport, and provide value to everyone without prejudging or qualifying them. I refer to it as: “the rule of you never know.” And “you never know” has no time limit. Sometimes “you never know” happens in a week, and sometimes it happens 5 years later. That’s why it’s called “you never know.”
9.5 I am brief. Time allocation at a networking event is not an option. If there are 60 people in the room and the meeting lasts for one hour, you have 1 minute per person if you want to meet everyone. If you take 5 minutes with each person, you can only meet 12 people. The choice is yours, but be aware of time.

I’ve just given you the parameters, the guidelines, and the rules that I have personally been following for 25 years. There are other rules and you can find them in my Little Black Book of Connections, but these are the major ones that will make connections, make appointments, build relationships, and ultimately make sales.

Next week I am going to talk about why the BNI meeting was incredible, and how you can learn from it. Stay tuned.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.

About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website,, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].