The Secrets to Becoming a Startup Networking Hero09-Jun-2016
GITEX - Startup networking guide
As some of the world’s leading startups, investors and VCs join the GITEX Startup Movement we share our top tips on how to build the right connections for your startup
Not so long ago, launching a startup involved months of trudging from pitch to pitch to give the same presentation over and over, all the while hoping you’ll make the right connections to get your innovation of the ground.
Luckily for all you new startups out there, nowadays there are a number of innovative ways to make the right connections to build your business.
So if you’re still searching for the right connections to come along then below you’ll find a rundown of some simple steps you can take to build the right network for your business:
1. IT’S GOOD TO TALK
This may seem obvious, but one of the most vital networking steps a startup can take is to simply begin talking to people.
You may feel there are a number of reasons not to, such as the fear of someone stealing your ideas, being ridiculed or both.
However, the value of meeting and speaking with customers, advisors, experts, potential investors and the media can be incalculable as you receive valuable feedback, ideas and advice.
The more ideas you bounce around with different sources, the more you will refine your ideas to produce a product or service that’s really polished.
2. IMAGINE YOUR DREAM CONNECTION
Before your start bombarding random people with meeting requests it’s important to sit down and determine exactly what kind of connections your startup needs.
Depending at what stage your startup is in, you’ll find yourself looking for potential investors, hands on business partners or future customers.
By deciding beforehand exactly what kind of connections you need to make, then you will save yourself a lot of time meeting with connections who can’t actually contribute any value to your company at that time.
3. SET YOURSELF A TARGET
If you’re one of the many startups or entrepreneurs for whom networking doesn’t come naturally, it can be easy to discount it as something that doesn’t actually benefit you or your startup.
In this case it can be useful to approach networking just like any other aspect of your business, with tangible targets of the kinds of connections and expertise you want to meet.
For example, when you next attend a networking event, tell yourself that you won’t go home until you’ve met three people from a particular industry, or who could help you expand into a certain country or market, and you’ll soon start to see the potential ROI from your connections.
4. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
When it comes to networking, sitting at your desk and sending meeting and connection requests will only get you so far.
By getting out there and meeting with people face to face you’ll get a much better understanding of who these connections are, and how they can benefit you and your business.
In addition, you’ll find that you’re able to explain your startup much easier when you’re networking face to face, with the ability to share printed info or show off early prototypes ensuring connections understand exactly why they should be interested in how you can help them.
5. SHUT UP AND LISTEN
As a passionate tech entrepreneur it can be tempting to launch into a passionate pitch about your company whenever you’re networking with new connections.
However, sometimes the best thing you can do for your startup is stop talking about it and listen to what other people have to say.
By paying attention to what your connections needs, concerns or targets are then you can get a much better understanding of how your startup can match these, as well as spotting any unnoticed gaps in your business plan.
6. ACCELERATE OR INCUBATE
Sometimes the best thing for your startup is to take networking to the next level and start searching for an Accelerator or Incubator.
While both are helpful tools for new startups, there are some important differences between the two, as Accelerators ‘accelerate’ the growth of your existing company while incubators ‘incubate’ your innovations with the aim of developing your business model.
Both offer a range of similar benefits though, as by partnering with an Accelerator or Incubator a startup can receive priceless advice, investment mentorship and an instant connection network, in return for a fee or equity.
However, before choosing between an Accelerator or an Incubator you should be aware of what stage your startup is in, or what your short term objectives are, as Accelerators tend to focus more on scaling your business while Incubators will take the time to develop your innovations and ideas.
7. TIME TO GET SOCIAL
While the most valuable form of networking will always be face to face, you shouldn’t neglect the opportunities available by embracing modern tech and social media.
As a more passive approach to networking, social accounts like Twitter and LinkedIn are great for building awareness around your startup, or to keep conversations going with your long connections long after your first meeting.
As an expert in your field and a dedicated tech entrepreneur in your own right, social media also allows you to share your interests and expertise in topics and news away from your startup or business, helping to set up your position as a thought leader or industry expert.
IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW
Recent years have transformed how tech startups are able to leverage their networks and connections to build their businesses.
However, this hasn’t made actually going out and making connections any easier and it can be tempting to discount the ROI from the time needed to successfully build a startup network.
I hope that by following the above steps, you’ll see that building a startup network can be easier and more valuable than you think and you can leverage that to build the best startup that it can be.
GITEX Technology Week 2016, taking place this 16-20 October at Dubai World Trade Centre, is bringing together 400 startup companies from all over the globe will be in attendance to share their ideas, network with investors and ultimately pitch their startup for a chance to win vital funding from some of the world’s leading venture capitalists.
GITEX Technology Week. Where startups do business.
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