By: Natalie Zweig
Networking is essentially building relationships with people. Not only does networking help you learn communication skills, it can also open up new opportunities for startup founders and their startups. The first step to networking is putting yourself out there. You can build connections through social media, events, meetings, conferences, work, or any place that has people. You can find connections anywhere. The goal here is to build your network, quality and quantity are both important.
Networking can be leveraged for business success, examples include inspiration, connections, advice, mentors, and opportunities. You can build great friends through the process. Your network may provide you with business opportunities such as new customers and investors. Spreading word about your startup leads to referrals. Networking allows you to gain and give knowledge and information. Mentors can provide value information to help your startup. Networking may also be used to form business partnerships. Maybe you meet someone who can add value to your startup and decide to make them a co-founder. Another benefit is that your reputation will be built up from the people you interact with. Reputation is important in business, it builds trust with customers and everyone involved in the business. This experience will build your soft skills and help startup founders get more comfortable communicating and speaking with others. Any connection is valuable, from finding investors, to getting advice, information and connections can be beneficial to building your company.
Building a successful startup is hard. 90% of startups fail. Networking can help. A common reason startups fail is due to lack of funds, but networking can help find investors and generate capital. These tips can help you network as a startup founder:
Leverage connections, let people know what you are looking for and put yourself out there.
Be genuine, don’t be a salesperson, be a storyteller and a friend.
Use connections for crowdfunding, connections are a great way to raise capital.
Have a unique value proposition, set your startup apart from the competition by showing the problem you are solving, how your startup will solve it, and how you are different from other companies.
Utilize social media, social media groups are a great way to build community and gain customers, facebook groups are a great start.
Build an email list, keep people up to date and build on the relationships by keeping in touch, other systems for collection leads work too.
Build up your personal brand, you are your business and you influence how people see the company so set a good stage and be someone people want to work with, personal brand messages can tell your story as a startup founder.
Find a mentor, find someone in your industry whose knowledge can help your company grow, you can leverage their connections too, consider being a mentor in the future.
Distribute content, your content reflects your credibility, use newsletters, blogs, webinars.
Use HARO, helps build PR through being a journalist source in the industry.
Show mentions on your website, show brands you’ve worked with to increase trust and show your credibility.
Have a press kit, include background information, your story, media coverage, information about members of the team, FAQ.
Network whenever you can, take advantage of every situation.