By Max Nihart
Students participating in the YEI Fellowship at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute recently participated in a workshop from Marissa King, Professor of Organizational Behavior, about how to manage a strategic network. Networking is critical for early-stage entrepreneurs, King says. In fact, she told the Fellows, “Your network is key to your entrepreneurial success.” While not everyone is an extrovert or naturally gifted at engaging people, she shared four traits anyone can use to build his/her own entrepreneurial network.
- Overcoming resistance - It may require a lot of courage to get out of your comfort zone and build your network in an unfamiliar setting with strangers, but it can really pay off in the end.
- Knowing Your Networking Style - How one person gains a network can be different than the next. Find how you like to network and grow from there.
- Diagnose Your Network – Some contacts may be more important than others. Just because one is more important to you now, does not mean you should cross out others as they could prove useful in the future.
- Develop a Strategy – Keep an organized list of your contacts.
King also stressed the importance of diversifying your network, noting that you do not want all of your contacts to be within one business or school. She said one does not need 500 contacts but rather under 200 so you can manage them all and keep relationships active.
The takeaway: Get out, make diverse contacts, and always take advantage of networking opportunities!