Irrespective of what sector a startup caters to, networking is one of the most important elements that contribute towards the growth of an enterprise. However that being said, the degree to which networking influences startup success depends on the type of service or product being offered by the startup.
Idea validation, scouting for partners all these are greatly influenced by the interplay of personal relationships which eventually form the backbone of the success of a startup. This fact is almost universally acknowledged but the issue seems to reside in actually attending relevant events. The following tips should benefit you in your quest for startup success:
1.Make Proper Planning
Founders do not have 48 hours in a day and time is very precious to them. Before you start to attend events every night of the week, it would be advisable to chalk out the networking goals that you currently have. What do you really want out of your networking events? Strategic Partnerships, meeting potential investors, or do you simply want to meet new people and learn new things about your business area.
Though networking is important to keep in mind that it is not all important. After a certain point networking becomes ineffective as well as inefficient. So figure out your entrepreneurial goals early on and focus on the relationships of people with those particular goals.
2. Attending The Right Events
If you think that the task of networking is limited to sending cold emails to people requesting them to meet you then you are sadly way, way off the mark. When you are just beginning to forge relationships, it is imperative that you have some sort of physical interaction and the best way to do so in the business world is by personally attending events. Hone your networking goals sharp enough to be able to actually realize them.
Newbies should make most of the time they have on business socializing and try to attend the maximum number of events related to your sphere of activities. If you are in particular want of time it is better to take a more selective approach.
Be aware who the guests are at a particular event. Also to be considered is the amount of exposure you are likely to gain by attending the event which is determined by the number of persons attending it. Dress professionally while attending an event and always have business cards with yourself in addition to a thoroughly rehearsed elevator pitch.
3.Keep an Open Mind
The prospect of talking to strangers about your business seems to be attractive only to the few. Do not despair if you are not one of them. Think of the event as a chance to meet people who too would like to meet you. It is not so bad after all when you perceive it this way. Do not be stiff and be afraid to start conversations with strangers. They all have things you can learn. Keep a positive open mind and derive happiness from making new acquaintances.
4. Listen Intently
Pay attention to the people talking with you. Keep in mind that it is also as much as about them as it is about you. Do not think what you can gain from a person instead think in terms of what they need. Then try to figure out where you fit in that particular picture.
5. Make Evaluations and Act Accordingly
On the first meeting itself, you can get an idea of how a particular person aligns with your interests. Make an evaluation accordingly and carry out the desired action. It is better to take a slow but steady approach concerning this as this is unlikely to disrupt the expectation of any of the parties involved. Stay in touch with people who you might benefit from at a later time.
6. Set Priorities, Sort and Filter Contacts
Once you have a healthy network, you should place priorities and interact most with the ones who are more important. Be careful enough not to make the mistake of knowing a whole lot of people but ending up not knowing anyone at all.
7. Maintain Balance
Always keep in mind that the time you spend on networking could also have been spent on your service or product. Pay careful attention to keeping a balance between the two. Allocate certain days for work while keeping other devoted to meetings.