A key skill all players in the startup scene need to know is how to network effectively. A strong network allows you to gain information, share experiences and ideas, draw upon support, and open doors to different opportunities. It doesn’t matter if you’re extroverted, introverted, charismatic or a bit socially awkward.
While there are many different ways to get in touch with influencers, for many young entrepreneurs, the task of networking can seem scary, often daunting, especially if you’re new to the scene.
Because networking can feel like such a stressful task, we decided to ask 17 prolific networkers, all leaders in their fields, to share their networking tips and tricks with these 3 questions:
- What app or tool do you rely on the most when it comes to networking, and why?
- What are some your favorite places to network and meet new people?
- How do you reach out to someone you want to connect with, but have no previous relationship?
Some answers may surprise you, but all of them come from years of experience in the startup world.
Pat Flynn, Founder and Host – Smart Passive Income
I rely on Sunrise, a calendar app that integrates perfectly with Google Calendar and helps me manage my appointments as well. I like it because the UI is much better than Google Calendar alone, it syncs across all of my devices, and allows me to easily schedule meetings within it too.
I also like to turn cold relationships into warm ones via Twitter. I usually reach out and make a quick comment based on something we have in common, and then either start a conversation on Twitter, or follow up later with an email referencing the tweet.
Danny Iny, Founder of Firepole Marketing
I try not to go cold, actually – it’s always better to find a mutual friend who can make the introduction.
Jill Stanton, Cofounder – Screw The Nine To Five
I know it might sound a bit wacky, but I’ve found Periscope to be one of the easiest ways to get on the radars of top players.
Think about it: most of them want people to interact with their scopes and if you can add something of value to their chat stream, they (and their followers) are going to notice and pay attention.
To get started with this, try to identify the influencers in your space that you would love to connect with, follow them and then participate in as many scopes of theirs as you can.
And I’m not saying just type in “hi.” Or give them a bunch of hearts and then bounce. Instead, listen to what they are saying, chime in with your own thoughts, add to their points and truly provide something amazing for them and their audience.
You’ll be surprised how much of an effect this can have on connecting with people you look up to.
Jon Nastor, Founder and Host – Hack The Entrepreneur
I prefer to reach out to people via email, due to its personal nature, and Voila Norbert helps me discover email addresses.
Short (5 sentences or less) emails that clearly state what I can do for the receiver and what the next step is. Email is much more personal than social media and everyone still reads email almost immediately.
The best way I have found to start and build relationships has been my podcast. Interviewing someone for my show is a great way to get to know each other. Also, all of the work I have put into building my audience now provides instant value to my guest.
Joanne Wiebe, Founder and Copywriter – Copy Hacker
I start by looking on LinkedIn to see if I’m connected to them by someone else, which is sometimes the case.
In those situations, I ask my contact (hopefully someone I see as a friend) to make the connection, and I do so by writing my request email in such a way that my contact can just forward it.
If I don’t know them, I do my best to learn all I can about them online before I reach out with a nice, short email that leads with things they’re doing that I dig (honestly – not to kiss ass). Then I follow that up with a LinkedIn invitation. Done.
Kevan Lee, Content Crafter – Buffer
The combo of Gmail + Google Calendar + Hangouts is a really great trio for me when it comes to connecting with people, setting up times to chat and then having those chats. It’s a wonderfully simple, easy process.
At Buffer, we’ve really enjoyed the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, and I think it’s had a big impact on the way I approach networking and relationship-building. Here are a few bullet-point takeaways from the book:
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
I think in particular “the other person’s interests” is a key one when you’re connecting blindly with others.
I’ll often keep these conversations over email, do my best to keep things brief and fit in as many of these HTWF principles as I can.
Gregory Ciotti, Content Strategist – Help Scout
I honestly prefer old fashioned email. I like to find people where they already are, usually through the work on their website.
Showing creative appreciation is just as good for the soul as it is the Rolodex, so I’ll send a message to anyone who’s doing great work, no strings attached. New connections often form naturally from there.
Leah Hynes, Co-Founder – Rock Your Purpose Live
Ideally get an introduction, and if there is no connection, then reach out to add value (with no strings attached) and build the relationship from a heart-centered place of contribution WAY before wanting anything from them.
In person events are the best place to meet, especially to solidify already existing online connections.
Stuart McKeown, Cofounder – Gleam.io
It can be quite hard to meet like minded people (as they are often busy).
Best way I’ve found is by connecting and providing them value; a shoutout for their product/service, give them some help with something or even just thank someone onTwitter for Tweeting about your business. The little things go a long way.
Another great one is webinars. They allow you to scale your message and meet potentially hundreds of people at once. Then when you go to conferences people are more likely to connect when they recognize you.
Mike Dillard, Founder – MikeDillard.com
Charity events. They are typically filled with some extremely successful entrepreneurs who have already had an exit, rather than individuals who are just getting started.
Benny Hsu, Founder and Host – Get Busy Living
I really like followup.cc to help me follow up on conversations. If I wanted to follow up with someone in the future, I’ll have that email sent back to me at a time that I set.
For me, the best way to meet new people is online in Facebook groups. They’re usually smaller and around a certain topic. It’s easier for me to engage in conversation and connect with people. Plus it’s easier to get noticed by the admin of the Facebook group if you’re wanting to get on his or her radar. Just show that you’re helpful to stand out.
Daniel DiPiazza, Founder – Rich 20 Something
I like to use Calendly for networking, it lets me auto-schedule meetings!
Joe Duncan, Founder – Before 5AM
Any of the social media platforms whether it’s Twitter, Instagram orFacebook or even Youtube will allow you to connect with new people who care about what you are doing. Other than that I use my calendar in both Outlook and my iPhone to make sure I schedule meetings and phone calls with new people every day!
I have found social media to be a great way to reach out and connect with people I have never met before. Social media is a powerful tool that allows you to express your art, share your ideas with the world, but most importantly, open the door to new friendships and relationships you would have never been able to make otherwise!
The truth of the matter is anywhere and everywhere you go presents an opportunity for you to connect with new people!
Be open to meeting people, be interesting and most of all, be interested. As long as you have a desire to connect with others, you will never struggle to meet new people wherever you go!
Maneesh Sethi, Founder – Pavlok
Facebook. I simply ask my friends on Facebook if anyone can introduce me to the owner of this company, an author, etc.
Meron Bareket, Founder and Host – Your Podcast Empire
I used to be terrible with staying in touch and building relationships until I found Contactually. Now it’s my secret weapon.
Contactually monitors my email & social media correspondence 24/7. Then it sends me a daily email, suggesting 5 people I should reach out to today.
Having Contactually make sure I grow and strengthen my relationships instead of letting them wither has helped me grow my business faster than ever. It (quite literally) made me thousands of dollars within the first month or so of using it – well worth the $39 investment!
Nothing is even remotely as effective as meeting people in person.
But living in Israel, my options to do so are… limited. Which is why I love conferences and small events. I built 99% of my professional network by attending 2 conferences and 3 small events in a 3 year period. It really doesn’t take much more than that – as long as you’re attending relevant events and maintain the right mindset.
To keep a healthy networking mindset, go to these events and challenge yourself to help as many people possible. Be the most helpful human being people meet in that event. Do so by LISTENING and paying attention to them, instead of trying to give away as many business cards as possible.
Gary E Muller, Co-Owner and Chef – The Mill House Inn
I find I meet the most significant people from within my own network. Quality not quantity and having a similar view really matters!
Andrew Guttormsen, Head of Growth & Marketing – Fedora
I start with research. After I know everything about the person and how I can help them get something they want, I’ll reach out. My favorite way is to ping them on Twitter and let them know I’m going to shoot them over a (cold) email. And then I craft an effective cold email and send it their way. I tend to use a similar approach to cold email as Scott Britton. That advice can be found here: http://life-longlearner.com/how-to-cold-email-prospects/
My favorite way to network and meet new people is to attract interesting people by holding valuable webinars and online workshops.
It allows you to give a lot value in advance and prove you can help before asking. What happens is that people you’d like to connect with end up coming to you.
As you can see networking isn’t as hard as you think!
But here are a few key takeaways:
- Don’t be afraid to connect with people in unconventional ways like Periscope, webinars or online workshops.
- Face-to-face is still the best way to network though, so regularly attend events aimed towards entrepreneurs.
- Always be listening and providing value when making a new connection.
[By Jonathan Chan] [Read More] [Image from Be Business]