Zaktualizowano: 11 lis 2021
No one will tell you that you can ignore networking when starting or continuing your startup journey. Sometimes though the ‘networking’ part in your whole long ride of being a start-upper can seem less exciting and needed. Imagine: you are deep down in operations, trying to market better, and reach wider audiences, at the same time wanting to get hold of the investors’ attention. Networking can be the shortcut way to it.
So, let’s first agree that the end goal for a startup is to get the investors’ attention to their project. For this, you need traction, it will get your startup noticed and heard. Where do you get it from? You market and you network. Marketing is a relevant thing and can work at scale — use it for your customers. Networking, on the other hand, is a much more powerful tool, but not that scalable — use it for investors. So, the way to an investor can take multiple steps. Start from meeting people — they will first help you with traction, then with connections (but no one stops you from getting both at the same time!)
Here are 5 reasons why you need to network for your track in the industry, whether you are only starting it, or are already in progress.
LinkedIn is your savior.
When you start to use LinkedIn, you see very few people and not many interactions. As you are attending more events, meet more people, or even expanding your network to your Entrepreneurship college class, you start to see more interactions, engagements, and materials that other people like, comment on, or share. At the same time, your search possibilities inside the platform are getting better — the more connections you have, the more people you can find. And that increases your chance to be seen and heard by people important to you — through post engagements or personal notes.
TIP: after you’ve interacted with someone from the industry, always add them to your LinkedIn network. And always try to search the social network for more people who will relate to you or your product — surfing LinkedIn is a skill!
2. Networking is helping to network further
Okay, so we have a LinkedIn profile. But let’s not forget about networking in real life (at least for as much as it is possible now) or virtual one-to-ones. And remember about people you’ve already interacted with and have as your connections — for sure, LinkedIn as a platform is a very good start. Chatting to people there, you can get some useful connections, even in private conversations! Your network helps to network further — both with the help of LinkedIn algorithms and using it as a messenger. In personal chats (via LinkedIn or in reality), you may catch mentions, recommendations, or referrals — this is a bridge to network further. Use these new links wisely, they can help to network further!
TIP: drop a personal note to a person when you connect, maybe mention when or how you got acquainted, personalization here is the key. You can also ask people to give recommendations regarding the services you look for. Connecting with new people, especially if you need their help, will expand your network step by step.
3. You can get help from different people
In the beginning, middle, or deep in the industry path, you never know when or how your network can help you. Your connections can include a lot of different people. For example, a student who was looking for a job at a Startup Expo. Or an eminent investor with a vast portfolio of startups you sat close to in the dining hall. Their connections or acquaintances can help you do something you didn’t know how to get close to! The same goes for online engagements. Most of the startup events, conferences, webinars, or demo-days have the option of networking with random people at that very event (also happening online!). You may meet a fellow start-upper at the idea stage who will become your future co-founder. Or a person from the organizers’ team that will get you to your next grand deal
TIP: always exchange contact details, even if you think that this person is not relevant to your network at the moment.
4. Networking will get your product to a wider market
People who know you directly will share a good word about your product. This will get you not only some cool connections to raise money in the future, but also more product users, a good audience, and positive opinions (provided that your product is really good!). Some people may talk about you and your idea to their friends and colleagues, and who knows, maybe these talks will get your startup the investors’ attention. But please don’t start pitching your idea the second after you say ‘hi!’. Everyone understands that if you represent a startup, you have your pitch ready. Try to incorporate your pitch into a discussion — then it will not look like spam in real/virtual life.
TIP: When talking about your product to unfamiliar people, forget about slides and structure that is stuck in your head from countless (or counted) pitch contests you’ve been to. Imagine that you’re talking to a new person in your friend group — try to get to know them too, and smoothly include a speech about yourself and the project into your conversation.
5. Help, and you’ll be helped!
Always remember about the universe’s tricky techniques — if you gave a helping hand, you would get it yourself when you need it. If someone is asking for a recommendation, take some time, and research your experience to give a high-quality reply. Try to help fellow people on their startup journeys, especially if they only begin it. If you are a beginner yourself, maybe team up with them to get some cool ideas rolling in your heads. If you already know something, think about yourself at the beginning of your path — maybe then someone helped you as much as you can now.
TIP: try to be more helpful and kind — it will be rewarded :)
We can assure you, mostly from our experience at Freshman Capital and other companies we have worked for, networking is an essential part that needs to take up some of your time and mind!