The value of connections and networking in the entrepreneurial community cannot be overstated, and knowing the right person can be the difference between success and failure.
Forging and managing a personal network of people working together to lift each other up is paramount to a D.C. business, and to find out how to do it, What’s Working in Washington spoke to serial D.C. entrepreneur Tien Wong.
“Networking, to me, is the cultivation of relationships in which you are primarily helping another party, who will then, hopefully, be able to help you,” said Wong.
“It’s a series of transactions… [but] no one’s keeping track. The key to good networking is not to keep track of those little interactions,” he said.
Instead of focusing on specific interactions and instant reciprocity, Wong recommended forging real relationships for the well-being of both parties.
“That’s junior varsity networking, where I’ll do you a favor and expect you to do a favor for me back. I think one of the big, important, key learnings is: if you want to get, you have to give,” said Wong. “Eventually it’ll come back to you.”
Wong also stressed that while extroverts are naturally better networkers, introverts have a lot to do to pick up the slack. “You almost have to develop fixes for that part of your personality so you can become a better networker,” he said.
“Just try to be yourself, and put yourself out there, and hopefully people will appreciate your authenticity… it’s more having the core essence of networking.”
Expect networking to take a while. “It’s a long slog. Lot of work, lot of dinners, lot of favors, lot of phone calls… this stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of effort, I have to put effort into it consistently, daily,” Wong said.