Building and using networks are the means to success chosen by successful entrepreneurs, not toiling away all alone in pursuit of their projects. Entrepreneurship thrives on networking, social relationships through which entrepreneurs obtain information, resources and social supports.

Extensive, complex and diverse web of relationships holds with a greater chance of entrepreneurial success because they give the entrepreneur access to greater opportunities and a myriad of problem-solving mechanisms. Hence, networking is a crucial asset in the entrepreneur’s tool bag.

In networking, successful entrepreneurs take it forward to expand weak ties rather than strong ties. Strong ties reflect your relationships with your close family and friends, characterized by similar values, backgrounds and preferences. To expand the entrepreneurial knowledge and experience Base, entrepreneurs get on to expand their weak ties or relationships with acquaintances, contacts, colleagues or associates, most of whom may have different backgrounds, experiences, knowledge and resources compared to the entrepreneur.

To leverage human, financial and technological resources, entrepreneurs engage in networking, linkages to people of varying backgrounds and broader experiences and people with more and different resources from the entrepreneur. By networking, entrepreneurs enhance their chances of finding what they need to build up their businesses.

Setting out a networking strategy is crucial to making it effective. To avoid having a pile of redundant business cards, entrepreneurs need to stand out a strong clarity of purpose connected to why they want to meet with their targets and what they can offer to their businesses. Planning here means selecting the right people and group to interact with and the right event to attend. Attendee lists for conferences and trade shows provide a veritable mine for names of personalities that would likely add value to you and your business. Planning also includes determining ahead of time how you will introduce yourself and your business, what questions to ask, how you will tune up your self-awareness, like being in the present, to avoid monopolising the conversation or becoming a poor listener and how you will intentionally let out cues to indicate that you are interested in meeting up again.

To get out there and make yourself known is networking which also functions as advertising. Entrepreneurs must do their part in ensuring that an interaction delivers value mutually to both interactants. Entrepreneurs often do this by empathetically probing or digging into the business and other relevant interests of networking prospects and any current business issue that they are grappling with. With the information garnered, they are able to think up ways of making the prospect’s life better. Networking provides the entrepreneur with a platform to sell himself and his values, his business ideas and products.

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