If you're a startup, networking is important to get your business going. Read these tips on how to make networking work for you.
Successful small businesses owners thrive because of connecting with other startups. A strong professional network can help a startup achieve things it would never accomplish on its own. Professional networks help you find solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Besides, word-of-mouth recommendations can contribute to the growth of your market share. You can connect with other startup owners by handing out your business cards at an event. Social media is a less expensive, yet effective way to connect with other entrepreneurs. Here are five ways to connect with other startup owners.
Evaluate Your Niche
Networking with everyone in your niche is difficult. Therefore, filter through your contacts to see who is worth networking with. Ask yourself whether or not you can benefit each other. Look for an entrepreneur whose traits are similar to yours. Always present yourself as a problem solver, and not just a business partner.
Another way to evaluate your niche is to reach out to people from your past. It can be a high school or college colleague who now has an extensive entrepreneurial network. It won't hurt to catch up with your college or high school buddies. Your past friends could help you obtain a valuable contact.
Use Social Media
Social media has become one of the most effective ways to establish professional relationships. Even the most successful entrepreneurs build connections on LinkedIn and share tweets on Twitter. Reaching some of the influential entrepreneurs on the phone can be difficult. However, social media makes it easy to interact with prominent people in the business.
Twitter allows you to send tweets and follow other people’s tweets. If a prominent entrepreneur responds to your tweet, consider this as an opportunity to build a connection. You should actively contribute to social networks. Don't expect to build networks without sharing intellectual content and informative news. Similarly, don't use Facebook and Twitter as a website proxy. Inbound links can help you build an extensive professional network. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook lets you engage with relevant industry content. You also get a chance to build trust among your followers. Inbound links will help you generate inbound networking. That way you spend less time looking for more contacts.
Enroll in a cooking class or join a golf club to meet new people whose interests are similar to yours. If you are stuck on ideas, you could find out where other entrepreneurs in your industry spend their time. You could also browse the internet for suggestions. Remember that every state has coffee shops, bars, and restaurants that cater to different professionals. If you deal with an IT-related business, for example, find out where IT professionals hang out. Keep in mind that entrepreneurs are more relaxed in social settings. It would be the best opportunity to strike up a conversation with prospective business partners. You could also build a connection by volunteering or attending a fundraiser. That creates an opportunity to meet entrepreneurs in your neighborhood.
Make Follow Ups
Whether it's volunteering or a fundraiser, it can be overwhelming to introduce yourself to professionals you've never met. Again, even after introducing yourself, it's difficult to determine if that contact can lead to a lasting relationship. That is why follow-ups are necessary.
You don't want to ask everyone in a fundraiser to partner with you. Just strike a conversation and see where there is potential. If someone is not a good fit for you, keep breaking the ice until you find a business partner that sparks your interest. Begin a conversation with the basic such as your company information, name, position, and affiliation. After introducing yourself, you could ask your prospective business partners what service they offer. Ask your target audience as much as possible regarding their business. Likewise, give them detailed information about your company.
Join Clubs for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs want to befriend like-minded individuals in their industry. For them, interaction is not a competitive tool. Communication helps them share ideas and encourage each other. Some of these groups include Business Collective, YEC, and FounderSociety.
You may ask members of your group to make introductions. Entrepreneurial networks are steadily growing. You may offer help to other startup owners while asking for new connections. Your reputation grows as you build an extensive network.