Starting your own business can be both exciting and terrifying, especially if you’re the kind of person who avoids networking at all costs. Nonetheless, any CEO or founder can tell you that the right kind of networking can make or break a business. Whether you run a non-profit and depend on your key clients providing a recurring online donation to grow, or you have a digital media platform aiming to reach a vast niche, or even if you are hoping to be a local seller of artistic goods, networking can definitely ensure that your business grows and prospers.
Here are 5 ways to start building a network as a startup owner
1.When to Start Networking
When you are just starting out, it seems daunting to think about a network, especially when starting from scratch as your friend group and family may be the closest thing you have to one. Nonetheless, once you start attending events and forming part of online discussions, you realise that the amount of businesspeople and startup owners looking to network is vast, making it easier to build a network. An important thing to remember is that as you’re getting to know these people, try not to make it about asking for favours. One of the best pieces of startup advice entrepreneurs should know is to spend time every day with someone that can help them grow their business. Doing so will make networking seem less like a chore and more like part of your everyday activities. Remember, there is no such thing as the right time to start networking, you can begin the minute you even think of a business idea, or when you are about to launch, or even when you are already deep into growing your business. Keep an open mind to grow your network.
2.Follow Up on Leads
Remember those leads you gathered at Startup Week? Great, now is the time to do something with them. Check in regularly with leads to learn more about their businesses and how you can help them. Give them helpful advice from your own experience as a startup owner. Ask if they’re interested in working together on an event or project that would benefit both of your startups. Once you develop personal relationships with these individuals, they can serve as an invaluable resource down the road when you need feedback on ideas or connections for talent or funding. In short, just keep following up, sharing information and offering what value you can in exchange for adding value to others’ businesses.
Events are an important way to build relationships and form new connections. At startup events, you’ll meet other like-minded people who want to share experiences, insights and professional wisdom. Even if you don’t personally know someone in attendance, it never hurts to say hello and initiate a conversation. Startup events can be small or large; even if it’s just one person you speak with at each event, over time your network will grow exponentially—and so will your ability to draw upon a solid foundation of knowledge and experience when times get tough. While attending startup events may seem intimidating at first, it’s a great way to become more comfortable interacting with others and sharing your ideas.
4.Meet People in Person
If you’re just starting out, it’s easy to feel like you’re on an island. Avoid that trap by regularly seeking out people who have experience doing what you want to do and building relationships with them. Meetups and conferences are great places to start, but don’t get stuck in your local bubble—being on Twitter and Facebook can help you connect with people who share your interests but might not live nearby. And if you’re at all worried about social awkwardness getting in your way, remember that everyone else is also feeling it; most people are just better at hiding it.
5.Post Engaging Content Online
If you’re starting out in business and haven’t yet figured out how to build a network, one of your best bets is to start by posting engaging content online. Posting interesting and informative content on your site or social media will help you start building relationships with people who may be able to help you grow your business. This can be as simple as sharing links to articles that are relevant to your industry or company. You can also post photos or stories from behind-the-scenes at work, during events, or of things that make life interesting for startup owners like yourself. The idea is simply to share things about what interests you—so long as it helps inform others about what you do too.
Networking is not rocket science, and when done right it can not only be incredibly beneficial in the growth of a business but it can also be an exciting aspect of it. Building a network also helps startup owners not feel lonely and stay motivated by hearing success stories around them. Also remember the psychology fact that we are most like the people we are around, so surrounding yourself with successful people is a great way to ensure you are on the way to success as well.
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