As a startup, it’s important to be making connections, especially when first starting out. Whether you’re looking for funding, customers, or even just collaborators to bounce ideas off of, networking events are a great resource to utilize.
Why is networking important?
There are several benefits to networking, especially when first creating your startup. The most obvious reason to network is to get the word out about your startup and generate buzz for your product. Networking events can also be a great place to meet investors or potential partners that can help your startup to expand and grow.
Finding the right networking events for you
There are many different kinds of networking events for you to utilize. A traditional conference can be good to get in-person interaction, but virtual events can help you to expand your reach beyond your current physical location. Read up on different types of events, and utilize whichever feels right for you and your startup.
- Industry-specific conferences: Industry-specific conferences are good for keeping up on industry trends and meeting your competitors. Use these kinds of events to build a network with your peers. However, when choosing an industry-specific conference, you may find that the vendors outnumber the customers, making it a difficult space for finding a prospective audience.
- Virtual events: Online events such as webinars or virtual happy hours can bring in large numbers of attendees and expand your reach beyond your home base.
- Online networking: Platforms like LinkedIn or X (formerly Twitter) have become communication hubs for startup founders to engage in business-focused discussions and share ideas.
Making the most of networking events
You should never attend a networking event without a plan of action. Going into these events blindly will just be a waste of your time. To make the most of the networking experience, here are some tips:
- Know your goal: What do you want to get out of the event? Investors? Potential customers? Business partners? Each of these goals require different kinds of preparation, so it’s important to know exactly what it is you’re looking for.
- Research who will be there: Know what kinds of people or companies will be in attendance at the event so that you can appropriately tailor your pitch.
- Be prepared to pitch your startup: As a startup founder, you should always have your elevator pitch prepared in order to easily get word out about your business. Having additional hand outs such as business cards or brochures can also help to ensure prospects remember you and your startup beyond the event.
- Interact with people: Don’t sit around waiting for people to come to you. Make an active effort to interact with people and build up relationships. Be social, authentic, and positive in order to create a lasting impression.
- Follow up on your connections: Don’t let these new connections go to waste. Following up after the event is essential in maintaining the relationships formed. Personalize your follow-ups in order to help strengthen your connections beyond the event.
By Michaela Lenahan in Startups