Having an expansive network is the key to startup success. Whether you're looking for mentors, funding, or just some good ol' fashioned advice, having the right people in your corner (or your contacts page) can make all the difference. Besides, squeezing in last minute networking events isn’t going to be productive in the long run anyway.
We asked four entrepreneurs what one thing they do to expand their network. Take a look at what they had to say below and get ready to handle some business cards:
Schedule Out Your Year
Get your phone calendar out and open Google on your laptop. Start searching local community organizations and networking events, then block at least one networking event for you to attend each month for the year. If you put it in your calendar, you're more likely to go to more networking events versus if you procrastinate and you see a reminder on Facebook the day before.
– Steve Newlon of SYN3RGY Creative
Aim for 100 Conversations
A mentor of mine once told me that to truly understand something, you need to have at least 100 conversations with other people about it. I accepted this challenge and have been talking with women about the intersection of motherhood and work. What started as 100 conversations has since exploded my network. Interesting people know other interesting people, and they're happy to make introductions.
– Jules Taggart of Jules Taggart Marketing
Pound The Pavement
Get out of the office and attend some events — anything you feel is even marginally related to your industry or interesting to you (conventions, trade shows, conferences, fundraisers, concerts, and so on). A get-together doesn't have to be labeled as a networking event for you to find new partnerships there, after all.
– Steven Buchwald of Buchwald & Associates
Be Proactive on Social Networks
We've found that dialogue on social media has been a great first step for building valuable relationships with strategic partners. We take the time to digest what brands in our space are communicating, and then cultivate creative responses that are warmer than emails. Both sides appreciate that someone is putting in effort to develop a connection rather than blanketing a message.
Justin Moodley of LASANAN
FounderSociety is an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.