3 Startup Networking Strategies and Why One Actually Works
‘Moving the Needle’ is a monthly column where sales expert Chris Stock shares tips, tools, and strategies focused on increasing profitability for business professionals.
San Diego is a great place for startups. According to a study conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce, San Diego is the fourth best place in the country for startups. Why are we so great?
For one, San Diego has an amazing community of founders and entrepreneurs dedicated to connecting and growing as a team. According to the study cited above, our connectivity (ties to top players and universities in the community) jumped from 18th to 13th in just one year!
So you want to grow your network? Below are some pitfalls of networking to avoid, and - of course - some tips to be successful in boosting your connectivity.
The ‘I Only Use Social Media’ Strategy
This is one of my favorites, or I guess I should say, least favorites. And that’s because this strategy epitomizes confusing a tool for the solution. Just like a hammer isn’t the only tool you use to build a house, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, aren’t the only tools you should use to build a network.
Is social media a good way to reach out and make connections with weak ties? You bet. Can it be a good way to stay in touch and keep connections updated on your recent activity? Sure. Is it a replacement for face-to-face relationship building? Nope. Never. Not even a little.
This is especially true for startups, for whom a single powerful connection can mean the difference between funding and failing. Industry leaders don’t live only online. You shouldn’t either.
The ‘Everyone’s a Walking Dollar Sign’ Strategy
This is one of the most repellent and far too common networking strategies. It’s especially common for new professionals and first-time entrepreneurs.
The problem with this strategy is people don’t want to be treated like dollar signs or atms. They want to be treated like people. A novel concept, I know.
We all know people network to make more money and grow their business. And that’s great. But that’s not the only reason they network. They also network to learn and educate themselves and to make friends and grow their social circle - not to mention gaining confidence, practicing communication skills, and the many other benefits that come along.
If all you focus on is dollar signs, you’re ignoring the strong educational and social aspects at play. You ignore people’s desire to connect with one another and connect with something larger than themselves.
Not everyone’s a potential lead, but everyone’s a conduit to connections. If you try to convert everyone you meet, you end up turning away a lot of people who could help you in other ways; help you in business, help you as a teacher, or help you by being your friend.
The ‘One That Works’ Strategy
Ok, so you may have caught on by now. The strategy that works is simple, and it’s no secret. To build powerful networks, you: Must. Add. Value. Period.
By focusing on adding value, you’ll attract strong and lasting relationships. By giving others a powerful tip or making a connection that benefits them, you position yourself as an influencer; as someone worth knowing. Plus, when you do this, others are much more likely to make a connection that benefits you.
And it doesn’t have to all be business related. Connections can be made by holding open the door or paying a compliment. The best way to build relationships is to start from a human-centric approach. So next time you meet a connection you’d like in your network, ask yourself, “how can I help them?” After all, we’re not born entrepreneurs and professionals, we’re born people.
Regarded as one of the top growth guru’s in the world, Chris has trained and mentored thousands of professionals across five continents, delivering results, increasing revenue, and going BIG every step of the way. He’s the founder & CEO of I Am Chris Stock & the Business Institute for Growth (BIG). With 30+ years of sales leadership experience, Chris is a coach, trainer, mentor, consultant, author, and keynote speaker, facilitating transformational growth for founders, CEOs, and small-to-medium-sized businesses.