See-V-Lab is being carried out within the context of Interreg Euregio Meuse-Rhine, with 798.860 euro from the European Regional Development Fund

What are networking best practices?

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This work aims to provide an introduction to the good networking practices for young entrepreneurs. It was realized on the observation that this activity is often feared by those who start a business, and that its importance is often underestimated. This work is divided in a temporal way and in three stages : pre-networking (the preparation), networking (the contact) and post-networking (the follow-up). A last part is also devoted to the results obtained after these meetings and the establishment of KPIs to monitor this activity.

Preparation is essential to ensure effective networking and to reduce the stress associated to it. During this step it is necessary to define objectives and a clear budget. This capstone helps the entrepreneur to establish an action plan that answers the following questions: when, how long and how to network optimally?

The very action of networking makes it possible to diversify the entrepreneur’s contacts. This thesis addresses issues related to face-to-face networking (such as public speaking for example) but it also addresses virtual networking. Advice on the use of your “natural” network of relatives will be distilled in this section.

After the networking, the work is not finished yet. Monitoring is an important step in the activity. Among other things, it is necessary to take care of business cards, to prioritize contacts, to ensure follow-up and to keep your commitments in order to be able to maintain good contacts.

The benefits of networking are numerous, which makes it an essential activity throughout the life of a start-up. It allows, of course, to create and develop your network in order to grow your business but not only. It also allows you to keep an eye on your competitors and to find partners.

To measure the effectiveness of your networking it is necessary to use the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). We will explain below what these KPIs are and how to establish them by differentiating between two types of entrepreneurs: those oriented towards sales and those oriented towards the development of their network. Finally, we will explain how to improve your networking with these KPIs.

Written by:

Antoine Offermans & Sara Lhoest, studentS at HEC Entrepreneurs 2018-2019