Our Entrepreneurial Journey goes into the 4th round. This time, your interpersonal skills get tested. When developing your startup, the right connections can play a decisive factor in its success. For this, you need one thing: A strong network.
- Innovative Idea
- Entrepreneurial Spirit
- Proper Budgeting
- Strong Network
- Technological Expertise
Get your Toe in the Door
“You need something? I know a guy, who knows a guy, whose mother knows a guy and this guy knows another guy, who can definitely help you out.” This is the power of a strong network in a nutshell.
Humans are social animals. We formed societies, cultures and communities in order to survive. It is a basic human instinct to group up with people, who have mutual interests to benefit from each other.
The same rule applies for the business world. It is all about having the right connections. As an entrepreneur you need to stay up-to-date and connect with the right people. Many startup founders underestimate the importance of networking and think they can climb the ladder of success on their own.
The truth is that you are dependent on other people’s help. If you want it or not. You need to put time and effort into your socializing skills, maintain relationships and build up a strong network.
The unwritten Rule of Success: Networking
Information is knowledge. And knowledge is power. Communicating with people, especially those with similar interests as you, is a must as an entrepreneur. Or to put it in the words of Bill Nye, the Science Guy: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.“
That’s right. People either know something you don’t, or someone you don’t know yet. Fact is, 85 percent of all jobs are filled through contacts and personal references. Connections are what really counts. The same goes for partnerships or sponsors. Knowing someone in an important position who can advocate for you is worth its weight in gold.
However, just benefitting from others is not the purpose of networking. You should be able to offer helpful services for your contacts as well. If you only take and don’t give, your network will soon shrink and you will lose important connections. In the end, business is about working with others, not against them.
Express your startup!
This is the real challenge. Knowing how to present yourself and your idea is an art itself. Some entrepreneurs are natural talkers and know how to excite their listeners. Others have a hard time to even approach new people. Either way, you need to be prepared to rock potential business conversations.
The challenge here is to capture your listeners attention during the first 8 seconds of the conversation. Otherwise, they will lose interest. Marketing your startup’s uniqueness in an appealing way is a skill you should learn as early as possible.
When you get asked to describe the idea behind your startup, tell a story. Tell the story of a client having a problem. Your business gives the solution. In the end, you will clarify the benefits of choosing you over the competition, your USP. Even if they don’t need your service, they can recommend you to someone who does. The magic of networking.
But where should I begin?
The easiest and cheapest way to start is social networking. Most likely, you are already signed up for several social media platforms. Even better: Your startup has its own official page as well. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great to build up your brand image and awareness.
In terms of business networking, LinkedIn and Xing are the channels you want to pay attention to. They are more serious and especially designed for business, career and networking purposes. On platforms like founderio or angel.co you can create a profile for your business, so other users can find it. They are a good way to get new connections, business partners or funding. If you want to find out more about ways to fund your startup, check out part 3 of our entrepreneurial journey.
Social networking is important and necessary, no doubts. However, the personal contact is what really counts. Events are the way to go for meeting new interesting people and to leave a lasting impression. International startup events we can recommend to you are WebSummit and Bits & Pretzels.
Join the club
To conclude, if you want to be successful in the startup world, networking is essential. The right contacts can make all the difference when it literally comes down to business. This is why you should invest time, money, and effort into extending and maintaining your network. It will be worth it.
Next week will be the last part of our entrepreneurial journey. In this final step, we will explain why technological expertise is fundamental in the modern startup world.