Networking can be tough, especially at business meets or any other start-up hub. At big events, its often hard to identify the wannabe entrepreneurs from those who are building awesome things or have awesome contacts, so it’s not uncommon to leave an event hours later exhausted, hoarse, and with nothing to show.
But, the start-up world is an ecosystem where connections and introductions can be critical to raising funds or landing a key partner, and networking is just part of the game. So what should you do?
While heading to the big events once in a while is important, here are three even better ways to rapidly expand and improve your network – while still saving your energy for your new and growing company.
- Networking One-On-One
Why leave meeting the right people up to the small chance that you will run into them at the buffet table? Instead, think about the type of people you’d be interested to meet (and who would be interested to meet you as well). For example, if you’re starting a marketing company, you may want to meet other flourishing marketing agencies at a similar stage.
Then, do some research, choose a few people who might be really helpful, and reach out to them by requesting a meeting at popular (but quiet place). Now, instead of spending an hour chatting with 12 random people for five minutes each, you can spend it chatting with one person whom you know you can learn from. What’s more, this type of one-on-one connection will create a much closer business relationship if there are things you can do to help each other in the future.
- Create Your Own Networking Event
Can’t find an event that’s close to you or you are having difficulties raising the cash to go there or you can’t seem to find one that meets you specifications. Well CREATE ONE!
Start by making a list of founders you know and also of those you are interested in meeting and invite them all for a virtual chat (on hangout, twitter, Facebook or Skype) or at a physical address say after a related business meet or seminar. Mind you the response might be low and it majorly depends on how convincing your message is.
You have worked hard to meet great contacts, so make sure you keep them – and aren’t that person who only reaches out when you want something. Every month, make a point to grab lunch or coffee with a few of your start-up friends and acquaintances. Catch each other up on the latest, see if there are ways for the two of you to help each other. When a time comes that you’re in need of a big favour, these people are going to be way more likely to jump at the chance to help.
Finally, we would recommend you visit the iTunesU for free access to interviews and speeches from young and established entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Dorsey (Twitter) or Jerry Yang (Yahoo) amongst other. Prospective entrepreneurs will find tons of insightful resources there.
This article was edited from a piece by Alison Johnston Rue of the Daily Muse