It’s a fact that when you’re starting up a business, the contacts you have are one of the most important weapons at your disposal. Business is people, the broader your network the more likely you are to hear about opportunities first, find investment and spread buzz about what you have to offer. We all dream of coming into the orbit of a powerful business titan who can boost the fortunes of our company. But if we do cross paths, how can we make the most of the opportunity?
- Genuinely Listen – the business world can be quite unforthcoming, so if you do get some feedback from a head honcho, listen carefully. Make changes based on their comments if you really trust their judgment – then ask for an opportunity to come back and show them how you’ve developed. Take their feedback on board.
- Be Direct – if there’s one thing hugely successful people have in common, it’s that they tend to be extremely busy, so don’t try to ingratiate yourself with mindless chit-chat. They’ll prefer a direct (but not rude and charmless!) approach. Their time is their most precious commodity so make sure that you show you respect that.
- Find a Way In – trying to connect with someone major is way easier if you have a warm lead, so why not try to get in with a friend or adviser of theirs. These people will often have valuable advice to give in their own right and may bring you into their circle. Use a platform like LinkedIn to figure out who is important in their network.
- Show Your Passion – your love for want you do is going to be the real driving force in any of your interactions, so do what comes natural- show your understanding of what you do, highlight your personal investments, like why doing an online study MBA has enhanced your strategic skills.
- Make a Great First Impression – you only get one chance to meet that business star for the first time and if you aren’t genuine – because of nerves or a desire to impress – they’ll smell it. So be clear with yourself and them on your intentions, and don’t go over the top with the flattery.
- Hone Your Pitch – once you’re clear on what you want, make sure you’re telling the right story. A brief few sentences that convey the passion of what you’re trying to do – something that would compel them to take an interest in you and your journey. Practice your delivery, as that can make or break someone’s interest in you.
- Hold Back a Little – just like a successful first date, you don’t want to give away everything in that first meeting. The idea is to create something that leaves your audience wanting more. Give enough evidence about your venture to be compelling, but hold back a little of the ‘how’. If you manage to capture their interest but leave something crucial out, you could be getting a call about that coffee and a catch up sooner than you thought.