Hello WU Learner!
Networking is not just about interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, which to giving a positive impact to the future career of one and another. There are more that you can have in the networking session you conduct with the fellow startups, or potential investors!
1. Know your buckets.
When you are talking about building a great network as a startup, you want to fill key buckets and understand their role over the course of a startup’s lifecycle. These aren’t the only buckets, but they capture many of the critical concerns you will have.
Potential customers: In the early stages, it is important to connect with the actual decision-makers at a company. These will be your best sources for understanding the solutions that their company needs, and they will likely know other ideal customers.
Partners: Similarly, partner companies will have a wealth knowledge on your customers’ problems and provide secondary revenue opportunities.
Investors: I’ve never heard of a serious investor who put in money day one without doing due diligence. Instead, developing a relationship over time allows them to track your performance and behavior. They will give you guidance and make introductions before they ever put in a dollar.
Media: Getting attention from the right outlets can make or break a company, but you don’t want to be searching for contacts the week of launch.
2. Ask people for opinions and insights.
Especially if you are new to an industry, it is important to know the players involved and the lay of the land. Taking meetings or grabbing a cup of coffee and asking people for their opinions and thoughts will lead people to invest into your relationship.
When you meet with somebody, even if it’s for 15 minutes make sure to do two things:
Ask them why they met with you. It reinforces the idea that you are worthy of their time.
Ask them for recommendations. Thank them for their time and ask them for connections to influencers in their network that might be open to talking with you.
3. Provide value.
Keep in mind that every relationship is an exchange of value, even in friendships. I exchange my trust and time for yours and hopefully, we both come out better for the experience. It is important to understand what value you can provide in your interactions. The key is in understanding what it is that is important for other people and how you can fulfill that need.
4. Consider event-to-event relationships.
As your community grows, it will become impossible to maintain significant one-on-one relationships with everybody. Instead, you may want to consider event-to-event relationships, which focus on meeting a larger number of people by constantly having something to invite them to.
Ideally, you would invite them to your own event, but that’s not always an option. Consider hosting events for those people who are critical to your startup’s success, so that you are seen not only as a successful entrepreneur but as a critically connected hub at the center of the industry. This will allow you to develop deeper relationships with larger numbers of people. Other industry professionals will also want access to you, your company and your community.
5. Communicate clearly.
Always know what you're asking from people and what they are getting in return. To get your communication to a point of clarity you need to try varying approaches. People from different backgrounds, status and cultures will interpret your communication differently. If you can't say what you are doing in three or four sentences, then it is probably confusing and reducing the chances that anybody will participate. As a general rule, a confused mind says no. So keep it clear.