Every successful (or even unsuccessful) entrepreneur says that number one priority for people like him should to be network like mad. In fact, at a recent event Proto.in, I actually saw this in practice.
So why do entrepreneurs network so vigorously? Well, some studies show that 70% of the deals funded come through referrals. Some VCs even insist that all the business plans that come to them directly (through email) usually end up going to either spam or trash folder. Neither folder is a good destination. So moral of the story is: if you *ever* want to get venture funding in your life make sure you know a couple of people who know VCs. And what better way to know these people except going to conferences, having a chat and then exchanging business cards with them.
But it doesn’t just end here. Come on, now admit that of all business cards you have, how many people you actually know and how many would you like to refer to somebody in future. Chances are that the number is zero. In India, people just dole out their business cards at every opportunity possible (even I do that!). I wonder if they have business cards left while grabbing a pan, they might even end up giving a card to the panwalla. With this deluge of business cards pouring in to the person you want to network with, how do you make sure that he actually remembers you?
The answer is two-fold: have a non-standard card which stands out of the bunch and follow up with the person honestly. Following up is much important than having an oval shaped magenta colored card. After you hand over your card to someone, graciously ask for her card. And then after 1-2 days, email her saying that you enjoyed meeting her and then end the email with a broad question. This will force her to reply so that you can continue with the conversation for weeks to come and form a strong relationship.
And even generally, if you come across someone’s homepage who is interesting, just shoot him (for example, me) a mail and form a connection. Trust me, this would really, really help you in long term.
For people who are experts in networking, can they share tips and tricks of the trade?