Networking or Pitching?
By Veronica Guguian, Marketing and Business Development Consultant
Photo: Carol Padula Govaert, Magpeye Photography
As the poet John Donne said: No man is an island. We are social beings in need of interaction with other people. We need to feel accepted and to feel we belong to something. This rule applies to personal life, as well as business life.
According to Wikipedia, networking is “a socioeconomic business activity by which business people and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures”.
In other words, networking is market research. You go to events, meet new people, analyze if their skills and ideas can be useful for your next venture, while also taking a peek into what your competitors are doing and seeing what opportunities are there for you. People do business with people. This why it is so important to go and meet them face to face. The next person you meet could become your client or even your business partner.
With this in mind, you would expect to see a constant flow of new people and new startups coming to networking events. And there are so many events you can choose from, especially in Amsterdam. For me, the challenge is to choose from the multitude of invites that flow into my inbox every day.
However, in reality, you tend to see the same faces at most events. From time to time you see new ones, and it’s so refreshing! However, the majority of new faces do not stick to it. Don’t get me wrong, I know it is not easy to do so. You need to invest time, energy and money into networking and you will not see results straight away. If you want to see return on your investment, you need to be constant.
This could not match all personalities, but personally, I love networking. It is a great way to catch-up with your business contacts and friends (yes, a lot of them became my friends), meet new people, learn about new opportunities and, the best reason of all: to practice your pitch.
Every single time you meet someone new at a networking event, you need to introduce your company and what you do. And you have less then 30 seconds to grab the attention of the other person and get him/her interested in your organization. But the good news is that every single time you present yourself, you practice and your pitch becomes better. Every question asked after your pitch, it’s a feedback that will help you improve the way you present yourself and your company. We all know that repetition is the only way to make it perfect.
So, even if you are an introverted and socializing with new people means going out of your comfort zone, sometimes it is worth doing it. Just keep in mind the end goal.
A word of advice, these events are the perfect place to meet people and practice your pitch, however, keep in mind it is not the place where business will be decided or papers signed. In order to achieve that, you need to make the effort to follow-up with the people you met.
My hope? To see more new people and learn about new businesses during my networking event.
So, when you see me at one of the networking events, come and practice your pitch!
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