Networking is very important. Don’t let ’em tell you otherwise. At times, knowing the right people and connecting with them can make a huge difference in making your startup take off. I didn’t have a clue what networking meant until this spring during Project Artemis and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Program. The professors and management team kept telling us to perfect our 30-seconds commercials or what is also called an Elevator Pitch. The idea is to summarize what you do, why you do it and how you do it in such a way that it acts as a hook – something so exciting and interesting that the person gets hooked onto it and wants to hear more. For example, my elevator pitch went like this:
Hi! My name is Maria Umar. I am the Founder and President of Women’s Digital league which is a virtual shop providing digital services such as data entry, content writing, transcribing and email plus calendar management etc to clients. The entire team comprises of educated, skilled Pakistani women working from home.
So in just 30-seconds or the amount of time it takes for an elevator to cover two landings (unless it’s the elevator at the US State Department in which case it’d be 10 floors in 30 seconds) I told the person what I did, how I did it, and gave them an interesting concept for a startup … women from a country like Pakistan working from home on their computers earning a living.
So you swap business cards and if you’ve done a good job of it, you can be sure of getting an appointment to talk in detail about your venture.
People have been asking me why I went to a fashion event I attended recently. A friend sent me the passes and I was intrigued. But more than that, I saw it as a networking opportunity. I am helping manage the Hunza project now and we have big plans for it. I thought what would be a better opportunity to spread word then attending an event crawling with the media? So I went. And I am glad I did. For one, it was a new experience and was very entertaining. Secondly, I met a lot of interesting people, told them about my work and got some very positive response.
Another good way, besides attending networking events, is Facebook. You have no idea how many random people I have added to my friend’s list over the last 3 years … I only have a handful left now but it was worth it. These few people have been immensely helpful despite the fact they don’t know me at all. But they took the time to listen, to follow my activities, to answer my questions, and much more.
So ladies, keep your business cards on you at all times, don’t hesitate reaching out to a person you think might be a good connection, be genuine, take interest in the other person’s ‘story’ as well, offer help when you can, give people a chance …