Networking - Taking the initiative to boost your networking
trough Napkin & Elevator Pitches

Nätverkande är processen att bygga upp och vårda positiva relationer med människor som kan erbjuda stöd, råd och möjligheter. I dag, i en alltmer konkurrensutsatt miljö, är nätverkande och förbättrad interpersonell kompetens avgörande, särskilt i den sociala affärsvärlden. Det är faktiskt viktigt för en entreprenör att veta hur man nätverkar eftersom det hjälper till att bygga professionella relationer, öppna dörrar till nya möjligheter och underlätta utbytet av innovativa idéer och bästa praxis.

Competences addressed/ learning outcomes expand_more

After completing this Learning resource participants will be able to:  
-  Communication skills
-  Creativity
-  Critical Thinking
-  Problem Solving


The objectives of this learning resource can be summarised as below:
-  Learning the importance of networking to increase the success of a social business idea
-  Learning how to effectively present and expose your idea in front of an audience 
-  Getting to know new tools and methodologies

Theoretical background expand_more

Definition and importance of networking
Networking is the process of building and cultivating positive relationships with people who can offer support, advice and opportunities. Today, in an increasingly competitive environment, networking and enhancing interpersonal skills is crucial, especially in the social business world. Indeed, it is important for an entrepreneur to know how to network because it helps build professional relationships, opening doors to new opportunities and facilitating the exchange of innovative ideas and best practices.

Peer support
When participating in a social entrepreneurship training program, future female entrepreneurs are surrounded by other participants who face similar challenges. For this reason, learning how to network with their peers can be incredibly helpful in ensuring the success of your intended venture. As a trainer, you will need to explain that with networking they can have access to a wealth of support, advice and ideas. In addition, networking can take several forms: they can both have informal conversations in shared spaces and attend structured networking events to connect with other businesses. The relationships they build with peers in these contexts are invaluable because they helps increase business competitiveness

Benefits of a business network:
- cost sharing on common services;
- shorter product development and implementation time through integration of customers, partners and suppliers;
- more power to innovation of competitive products and services;
- shorter procurement time and inventory optimization;
- greater strength and cohesion with respect to customers and competitors outside the network;
- increased visibility of one's brand as reliable and competent.

Supporting research
An analysis recently developed by the University of Bologna within the MIG.EN.CUBE. project (2022) shows that networking among incubator trainers is one of the key elements. Thus, the objective of this research is to present the training needs of social entrepreneurship training professionals dealing with (aspiring) entrepreneurs with a migrant background.

In the study done by Brüderl and Preisendörfer (1998) on the impact of entrepreneurial networking on survival, employment and sales growth, it is concluded that networking has positive effects on both survival and growth. In a study conducted by Dean et al. (1997), authors found that networking has a positive effect on profitability, sustainable growth, knowledge sharing, product and service quality, and sales. 

Effective strategies
- Broaden your reach. Be careful not to exclude anyone from your network when you start looking for new contacts. Remember that most new connections are made through friends of friends. Anyone could turn out to be a valuable networking contact, even if they do not work directly in your career field. The more people who know about your business, the better. By expanding your network, you will have a better chance of finding a new investor, customer and stakeholder.
- Networking often. A successful networker is constantly meeting new people and expanding her network, even when she is not actively promoting her businesses. Show interest in what others have to say, instead of focusing solely on your own needs. A relationship based on mutual trust and respect is one that will benefit you most in the long run.
- Have a positive attitude. How you present yourself can have a significant impact on the kind of impression you make. While it's easy to become discouraged in the middle of a long job search, it's important to remain positive and optimistic when introducing yourself to others.
- Ask questions. Asking a series of purposeful questions can help you engage someone you're meeting for the first time. Most people generally like talking about themselves, so don't shy away from asking about someone's career and interests.

Step-by-step implementation expand_more

We propose this training activity after the aspiring female entrepreneurs have already identified their social business idea, as an exercise to communicate what they have previously conceived to other people. In this activity, group participants will learn how to craft their Elevator Pitch. In fact, in business social settings, entrepreneurs may only have a few moments to capture someone's attention or make an impression. One of the most effective ways to get entrepreneurs' messages across is to develop a personal Elevator Pitch. Preparing a personal speech in advance can also help the future female entrepreneurs with migrant backgrounds feel more comfortable introducing themself to new people. At the end of the speech, they have to push your interlocutors to ask questions and for insights: interest is measured in this way.

Activity guidelines
- Introduction to the importance of networking (20 minutes). Use the information and the further resources to explain what networking is and why it’s important to increase a  social business to your learners. Ask them to ask questions and leave them free to express their opinion.
- Napkin Pitch exercise (30 minutes).  Explains to the participants that they will now do an exercise with the Napkin Pitch which is a Design Thinking method espoused by Jeanne Liedtka and colleagues at the Darden School of Business. The Napkin Pitch is composed of a four-quadrant framework for communicating a concise summary of an idea or concept, in this case their female idea of social entrepreneurship. Give each of them a Napkin Pitch template and allow some time to fill it in individually.
In the template, they must report:
1) The big idea: Icons, words, bullets, and even sentences to describe a summary of the social idea solution they are ideating. It answers the question: How does their idea create value?
2) User desirability: This section documents how the big idea meets the needs of the users/customers. It describes how the solution seems to address a critical or unmet need of the user. It answers the question: Which of the attributes or characteristics of the user does their idea of social entrepreneurship address?
3) Technical feasibility: This section is a description of the operational abilities and challenges involved in implementing the idea of social entrepreneurship. The technical feasibility lays out steps for how this big idea can be implemented. It answers the question: Does female entrepreneurs with migrant backgrounds have the right resources, tools (including technology if needed), and processes to implement their idea?
4) Business viability: This section describes how addressing this need will result in a net positive outcome for the social enterprise. It answers the question: How will both the users and the social enterprise benefit from this idea?
- Elevator Pitch exercise (30 minutes). Based on the previously developed Napkin Pitch, now each participant will create an Elevator Pitch which is a powerful tool which consists in a clear, succinct, and specific statement that describes them and their strengths in about 60 - 90 seconds. In this short space of time, they must be able to explain who they are, their social innovative ideas and say what they can offer in terms of resources to their stakeholders. Explain to them some useful tips to put into practice: surprise their interlocutor immediately with a catchy quote or anecdote; use direct and concrete language; tell a story to create emotional connection with their audience; keep eye contact and do not move too much to not appear nervous; at the end of the pitch insert a call to action (e.g. make an appointment or present a way to get in touch) focused on their interlocutor. Distribute notes sticks and pens and give them time to write their Elevator Pitch. They can work both individually and in groups. To help them, you can write an effective example of Elevator Pitch on the board: 
Hi, I’m the CEO and founder of (...). We help businesses with their payments. Our company does this by comparing their options for merchant processing. Then we help customers find the best and cheapest option. Our service is completely free, and there are no obligations. What’s more, it takes only a minute to use our service. If you’re interested, can we set up a time to talk?”

Here are some more examples:  
- Reporting back to the whole group (20 minutes). It’s now time for each participant to make their own Elevator Pitch to the rest of the group. At the end of the presentations, reflect together on the effective features and possible improvements of each pitch. Invite participants to use respectful and non-judgmental language. 
- Network identification with Social Business Canvas (20 minutes) As a final activity, you can propose that participants do an exercise to identify their possible network. Distribute to each of them the 'Social Business Canvas' sheet available also in the materials section. This Design Thinking tool allows you to create a visual map of the key stakeholders, in which, starting from the social value of your business idea, you identify possible channels to reach your stakeholders.
Explain to the participating women the following steps to fill in the table, reminding them that it is not necessary to fill in every part: 
Social Purpose: write here as a reminder the social purpose of your company  
Customers/Stakeholders: enter possible stakeholders here, indicating the organisation and a contact person
Main activities: write down the main activities carried out by your stakeholder.
Resources: identify what resources you can employ to reach your stakeholders, e.g. physical or technological resources.
Key Customer Issue: report the customer's main need here.
Value Propositions: enter the value proposition (possibly customised) that your company can offer the customer.
Customer Relationships: report what kind of relationship you have with the customer (e.g. exchange of services), whether it already exists or is to be established.
Channels: identify which channels can be used to reach customers, e.g. social media, newsletters or participation in events.
Customer segments: consists of grouping users into specific segments according to common characteristics and interests.

Time needed and group sizeexpand_more

TIME: 2 hours
GROUPS: 8-10 learners

Materials needed for implementationexpand_more

Further resources: Videos and/or useful linksexpand_more

-  The Power of Meaningful Networking (TED) (ENG) 
-   How to Network: Networking Etiquette Tips for Professionals (ENG)  
-   La formula del Networking efficace | Alberto Bezzi | TEDxModena (ITA)  
-   Trovare Lavoro facendo rete - Come fare Networking (ITA)  
-   How to Pitch your Startup in 3 Minutes (ENG) 
-   Elevator pitch - 3 trucchi per crearne uno efficace (ITA)


The Importance of Mentorship and Networking in an Incubator and Accelerator
-  European Website on Integration (Connect Migration Network – Digital Literacy for Immigrants | European Website on Integration)
-  MIG.EN.CUBE. Project, “Incubators’ training needs to serve migrant entrepreneurs. Diagnostic assessment research report MIG.EN.CUBE”, 2022 Results — MIG.EN.CUBE - fostering MIGrant ENtrepreneurship inCUBation in Europe 
Job Search and Networking: Job Hunt with Social Media 
The Big Pitch | ATD 
SocialUP Erasmus+ Project:
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