A few weeks ago, I was invited to a high-end event and asked to do only one thing: network. The event included a lot of entrepreneurs (mainly social entrepreneurs) among other potential donors and investors. At the end of the event, the primary target audience we (as staff) should have networked with during the event left a bit frustrated, feeling that the event could have been more beneficial for them. They were totally right! To better understand why our networking should have been better, I introduce to every entrepreneur the importance of impact networking.
For every soon-to-be entrepreneur, here’s what impact networking is all about:
What is impact networking?
No, we are not here to discuss the leading IT and cloud service provider.
However, we are here to discuss how to stand out when you meet and network with others. It’s when you jump into a conversation, event, or any setting, and people start putting a name with a face. You know you have networked successfully when you put yourself ahead of your competition because you have made an impact. It’s all about leading and thriving to leave an impact that makes networking a successful encounter.
Additionally, impact networking is about collaborating with people and interacting with individuals to create a mutual connection, resulting in a win-win situation for the parties involved.
The power of impact networking
We can’t plan it all out in advance. So we need to bring different actors together to make sense of the issue, strengthen their ability to share information and resources to coordinate their work and to collaborate together to affect the whole system in ways that no group can on their own. That’s what it means to build a network for impact.David Ehrlichman
Put your answer to the question: “what can we do together that we can never do alone” it will tell you exactly why it is mighty to aim for impact networking. Just imagine the power of people with overlapping goals coming together to self-organize.
Impactful networks will show us the way forward. With collective efforts and collaboration, entrepreneurs can advance their business ideas and careers most efficiently and effectively.
How to get there?
In Ehrlichman’s book on impact networks and how to implement these, he highlighted five core interdependent activities to follow and ensure present in your pursuit of impact networking. I want to focus on the following:
- Clarifying the purpose: Are we here for the same reason? Do we have the same goal?
What went wrong in the event I was telling you about at the beginning of this post was that the people we were supposed to network with needed to understand the event’s purpose and how the event could benefit them in any way. For example, as a networker and entrepreneur, you seek other business owners with similar interests to help you brainstorm common causes and solutions. In that case, you need to be very clear and communicate the objectives you have in mind. This will help to keep all parties involved and engaged in your networking events. Also, this will be the primary motivator for people to engage in your dialogue.
- Cultivating trust: If you want to ensure that you are creating a real impact out of the networking dialogues you organize, the first thing to do is to build and maintain mutual trust among all people involved.
- Coordinating actions: All this comes in vain if you do not follow coordination procedures and protocols and maintain a clear action plan with the networkers.
Networks are messy, hard, and complex.David Ehrlichman
Impact networking takes time; it’s not magic. Creating and disseminating your vision, building trust, and coordinating an actionable plan requires time and commitment.
Also, you have to invest time and effort to create value for your business and the businesses of others through networking. The easier way to do business is to command and control while maintaining traditional hierarchies. However, when you put effort into impact networking, you are investing in the future of your business and creating durable solutions to any problems emerging.
Closing thoughts – Impact Networking
Remember that it is not successful networking if it’s not impactful. Ensuring impact networking solves many obstacles, and challenges entrepreneurs can overcome when they get together the right way. The main challenge many entrepreneurs face is trying to reinvent the wheel. Impact networking gets to the bottom of this. By defining the goals and objectives for the networks, we plan to create, building mutual trust, and setting an actionable plan to move forward, we make a long-standing and lasting network.
Also, remember that creating strong networks that aim to leave an impact requires time, effort, and patience. If you need any help understanding how networking works and how you can benefit from it as a business owner and entrepreneur, we can help!
Meet The Author Of This Article
I’m Jenny Ayman, a project manager in the development field with specific knowledge and experience in capacity building and entrepreneurship programs. I aspire to transfer the hands-on experience I gain in my professional career through writing.
Also, if you need help planning your business, I recommend checking out some of our freelancer’s business plans or pitch decks!