“The more extensive and, above all, active network you have, the easier it is to start your business,” sums up Adil Maldou, BGE Nièvre-Yonne advisor. For more than ten years, this expert in business creation has accompanied project managers, and his observation is clear: an entrepreneur has everything to gain by working on his network.
“The benefits are many. A good address book can not only bring knowledge and advice to the entrepreneur, but also help him uncover new trends, take the temperature of his activity sector or take a step back on his business through external and experienced views. It may also be there that he will find a future colleague with complementary skills or new partners,” lists Adil Maldou.
For some, the network is also a pool of potential customers, in the more or less long term. This was the case for Jeremy Demon. A magician for several years, he left the micro-business regime to launch his own digital magic agency in 2019. Link elite, where magic serves the communication of a brand. His latest client, Jérémy Demon, found him in his network: “It was my former owner, with whom I had kept in touch since our meeting in 2017. Since then, he has called on my services twice for his own company,” he explains .
Pitching at the right time
Your priority should be to communicate effectively with your network. The essential thing: Have a clear and concise pitch for your project. “The speech should last a maximum of three minutes,” advises the BGE expert. For Jérémy Demon, a simple demonstration is enough. “I find most of my customers in the performances I give for others. I am approached at the end and I hand out business cards. It opens many doors for me,” he says.
Whether spoken or shown, the pitch should not come as a hair in the soup. “There are times that are more favorable for the exchange than others, warns Adil Maldou. You must know how to distinguish them in order not to be too intrusive. For example, if it is a person met during a certain event , it is better to engage in the conversation about this event before moving on to professional topics. »
This advice is all the more wise if the entrepreneur is looking to reach a new contact who is considered difficult to access or very far from his current network. “We must not be discouraged. The trick is to try to get out of the working environment to catch their attention,” continues Adil Maldou.
Diversify your network
Without doing anything, everyone has a basic network. They are friends, family, colleagues and former work relationships, neighbors, former classmates… “They are also people who share the same interests as you, who are, for example, registered in the same sports club,” adds Adil Maldou. The range of options is vast and deserves to grow.
“The important thing is to be able to count on a first circle with which you exchange more regularly, then to expand your network with more distant circles, but which can always be enriching for the entrepreneur”, continues the advisor BGE. So don’t hesitate to target e.g. people who work in different business sectors, because “there can be cross-cutting issues, and that is always a source of inspiration. »
keep it active
Of course, it is not enough to exchange once with a person to consider him part of his network. These relationships are maintained more or less regularly depending on the case. But Adil Maldou would like to be reassuring: it does not necessarily require a lot of time for the entrepreneur to maintain his network. “One hour a day is enough. And it can also be good to participate once a month in parties or events, or in networks of entrepreneurs who sometimes meet in the evening, after work. »
Contact is also made online, via networks such as LinkedIn. “It’s always good to have a page with a catchphrase and to create one post a week. However, be careful to stay positive so that the returned image is good,” advises the expert. For magician Jérémy Demon, it mostly happens on Instagram. “I use it as a showcase for regular posts,” he explains. And when I am filmed in performance, I ask that they identify me in order to reach even more people. »
Bets that pay off quickly. Especially since the benefits are ultimately not just business. “The entrepreneur often suffers from his isolation. The network is also there to help him break with this loneliness,” concludes Adil Maldou.
This article is part of a series produced with BGE’s support network on know how to be an entrepreneur. See the previous section, Focus on your goals, and the next section, Adapt and Rebound.