Your network is your net worth! Get out of your comfort zone and start networking. Building your business without support from other entrepreneurs is a great way to run out of cash fast.
Here are 5 ways to expand your network and meet more entrepreneurs. (With a bonus tip!)
As Y Combinator graduates, we’ve learned that being a part of a supportive group of entrepreneurs is paramount. For startups, making connections early on can make an extraordinary impact on the way you develop your product and your business. Surround yourself with information and you will always be learning.
Aside from great entrepreneurs, there are also great resources. Coworking spaces are a great option to save money early on. This not only puts you in the right room, it also gives you an opportunity to forgo rent payments for the duration of your incubation.
Ever heard of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab,Jab,Jab, right hook? Gary explains that “Jabbing” is essentially providing value first. And the “Hook” is your eventual ask. The key takeaway is to provide value first to earn the ability to ask customers to buy your product. This idea applies similarly in a networking capacity.
Gary explains: “I have to land the hook. It’s my hope. It’s my aspiration. But it’s not why. I do it because it gives me a chance to even throw the right hook at all.” Remember, these relationships are not transactional. If you’re “jabbing” artificially, it’s better to not do it at all. Find entrepreneurs who you enjoy working with and help each other grow.
One of the best parts about meetups is they’re often free! Socializing with entrepreneurs puts you in the best position to start meeting like-minded people. You can attend a casual meetup to learn more about neighboring entrepreneurs and decipher whether there are synergistic opportunities professionally. Be greedy with your time, but be genuine with your conversation. Conversation hop! There are lots of entrepreneurs to meet.
Social media is the low-hanging fruit of effective networking.
You can message anyone! Don’t waste it. Keep it short, show how you can provide value, push for next steps. If they live locally, bring the conversation offline. Ask if they’d like to grab a coffee during their lunch break. If they don’t live near you, get on a call. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about someone in a 5-10 minute conversation.
Following Gary V’s analogy, your ask is your right hook. It’s perfectly OK to ask. But ask without expectations. You may or may not get the answer you’re looking for. The important part is that you put yourself in a position to make a reasonable ask. This puts you in a position you otherwise would not have gotten. Keep Jabbing. If 1 in 10 people say yes, you are still making progress.
This is an AMAZING opportunity for two reasons: 1, it’s quite similar to a networking event in that you can meet tons of people; and 2, you can buy product, sometimes at lower prices than elsewhere. Entrepreneurs looking for quick ways to save money should spend time at trade shows. You might find a great way to get a product or service at a much better price.