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20 Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Top Networking Challenges

We asked 20 entrepreneurs to reveal their biggest challenges when it comes to professional networking. Here's what they had to say.

11. There’s a lack of context and filter

“The lack of context and filter is what hampers the effectiveness of most networking events for full-time entrepreneurs. If one knew the folks in attendance were going to be in a similar industry, at a similar stage, and that they were attending the event with an eye towards helping others grow their business, you’d have a high return on time invested event on your hands.”

William Griggs
Founder and CEO, VirtualRealityRental.co, @william_griggs

 

12. People don’t keep it real

“My personal challenge in networking is finding like-minded entrepreneurs that are willing to share their pain points in business – in order to collectively come to a solution. Translation: People don’t keep it real! Everyone wants to paint a picture that everything is smooth sailing 24/7 and the truth is – it’s not. Especially for young, successful entrepreneurs. Building relationships that delve beyond the surface level can be hard to do.”

Jenelle Coy
Managing Partner, Coy +, @coy_plus

 

13. The ‘It’ factor is hard to find

“The biggest networking challenge for me is connecting with people who don’t have the ‘it’ factor. People that don’t have the ‘it’ factor won’t work late nights, are impatient and greedy, and want a lot for nothing. I attend very few traditional networking events because attendees don’t offer value, but instead try to sell me something right away. Not cool.”

Abhi Golhar
Host, Real Estate Deal Talk, @abhigolhar

 

14. General networking events are too ‘general’

Photo: © mavoimages, YFS Magazine

General networking events are just that: general. There is no goal with these networking events and they normally bring in individuals that aren’t necessarily decision-makers for their company. I am significantly more likely to receive a referral from someone that I take out for a beer than 30 people that I chat with at networking events.”

Dan Salganik
Co-Founder, VisualFizz, @VisualFizz

 

15. Replacing face-to-face networking isn’t easy

“My biggest networking challenge is finding a replacement for face-to-face networking as a location independent entrepreneur. I get many clients when I’m in New York, but when I’ve decided to spend time in Thailand or Bali, it’s more difficult. Otherwise when I’m in New York it’s difficult to filter good events and bad ones. Certain hosts that are good are reliable, but otherwise it’s a crapshoot and most don’t have the quality of connections I’m looking for. Paid events are almost always better than free ones, but some paid ones still aren’t worth it.”

Nick Lall
CEO, Ivy Impact Solutions@ivyimpact

 

16. What I look for is hard to find

“I hate traditional networking because everyone is focused on what you can do for them, even if they just met you! What I look for, and is difficult to find, are like-minded entrepreneurs who sincerely want to help others. They focus on creating win-win scenarios as opposed to being self-serving. When you find them though magic happens!”

Thomas Nguyen
Co-founder, Peli Peli Restaurant Group, @pelipeli

 

17. Networking events aren’t lifestyle compatible

“The main thing I hate about traditional networking is that events are almost always evening focused and revolve around booze. Now I like to drink as much as the next person, but unfortunately these type of events are no longer really compatible with the lifestyle of an entrepreneur Dad with a young family.”

Ian Wright
Founder, British Business Energy, @UKBizEnergy

 

18. Networking events are a lot like speed dating

“The biggest challenge for me has been not being able to work the entire room for that one person that could either be a potential client or lead me to one. We’re talking about over 60 people I only have a solid hour to interact with so time is not on my side unless I treat it like speed dating.”

Melissa Toledo
Founder, Bon Vivant PR, @bonvivantpr1

 

19. Traditional networking is boring

“Traditional networking is just so boring…. asking what you do for a living and handing out cards knowing that most people will never follow up is a waste of time. I prefer to ask what they love, or if the person I’m speaking with tells me what they do I ask them if they love it. I’d rather know about them, instead of what they do… a job is a job, it’s not the soul of a person.”

Marissa Fayer
President and CEO, Fayer Consulting LLC and HERHealthEQ, @MKFayer

 

20. Not enough niche

“I run an online dance workout studio so my business is very niche. It’s hard to find a networking event that really fits. There’s networking events for fitness, video, women in business, monthly recurring revenue and many more but which one is most valuable for me currently since I have limited time?”

Charlene Dipaola
CEO, Hip Shake Fitness, @charlenedipaola

 

Final thoughts

“The bottom line in networking is that you have to kiss a lot of frogs,” says Kathleen McEntee, President of Kathleen McEntee and Associates, Ltd. “But once you find someone that is of like mind, strong work ethic and discipline, one thing leads to another.”

What is your top professional networking challenge?

 

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