The ability to network is an important skill set for startups. In fact, Forbes relayed the results of a survey, which revealed that networking is still the best way to land a job. Besides employment, it also helps people get service providers for their business, find mentors who can help them in the industry, and even generate resources.
However, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rich Stormback revealed to Harvard Business Review that 99 percent of networking is actually a waste of time. His controversial statement relies on the fact that a lot of people waste their time and effort attending networking events that don’t bear fruit. Instead, his advice is to focus on what is essential. Otherwise, they won’t get anything out of their efforts.
How can you build a network that would actually be beneficial for startups?
Networking for startups is more than just making acquaintances; it is about building relationships with other people. No one likes the feeling of being used in any relationship. Furthermore, no one will bring business to anyone who they feel they can’t trust.
It is therefore important that you take the time to invest in the people within your network. It’s not just you who should be benefiting from the connection; you should also see what you can do to help the other person out. Doing so helps build trust and strengthens ties.
Learn to listen
In networking events, it can be tempting to drone on and on about yourself and your startups. However, doing this can be detrimental for you, because it may give the impression that you’re self-absorbed. It is important for you to listen as well, not just with your ears, but with your eyes, given that body language provides a hint about the other person’s reception of what you are saying. You can sell your business to others at another event later on; the important thing is that you present yourself as someone who is worth knowing.
Never forget faces and names
Remembering someone’s name makes that person feel that you value the connection you share. Admittedly, it can be difficult if you’re meeting a lot of people at the same time, as in the case of networking events. Menlo Coaching recommends jotting down the names, as well as anything that would help you remember notable people and what you have talked about. You can also use mnemonics or word games to associate names with faces.
Acting like a wallflower won’t get you anywhere. Instead, have the confidence to put yourself forward so you can meet people who may be helpful to you in the future. Don’t be afraid to make the first move, because doing so can make you more memorable to the other person. However, do make sure that you don’t cross the line and give off an arrogant vibe instead. Show that you are assertive through your words and actions and you can run a startup!
Make concrete networking plans
Inc. states it’s better to make concrete plans upon meeting someone in a networking event. It improves the likelihood that something will bear fruit, instead of a vague promise of something in the future. For instance, rather than telling someone to call you “some time” when you hand over your business card, be specific about when that will be, such as the day after the event.