In today’s highly connected world, it pays to be a power connector to achieve success in business. The importance of building strong professional networks cannot be stressed enough. Networking is critical to help one stand out and sustain long-term relationships with people who could open new doors of opportunity and revenue generation. While all professionals should strategically chart their career path, first-time entrepreneurs would especially benefit from building successful networks.
But how do startup founders take advantage of networking to help them stay ahead of the game and create valuable companies? These simple insights show them how to crack the networking code.
Start early: Even as your startup idea germinates and takes shape, pull out all stops and seek out mentors and advisers. Be it within your social circle, the social media network or office circle, entrepreneurs should invest time and effort in reaching out to potential mentors, partners and customers. First-time entrepreneurs shouldn’t be timid about approaching people who they believe would add value to their support system. In the early stages of the company, it is vital to make the right connections in the industry, as this will form the bedrock of the startup’s future scalability and success. Keeping this in view, T-Hub works intensively with startups that are selected for its flagship Lab32 program. To facilitate a culture of community building, we nurture startups from the first day of Lab32 until Demo Day, ensuring entrepreneurs are well-connected with key stakeholders in the ecosystem.
Be visible: Savvy entrepreneurs, it is the age of incessant self-promotion, so leverage your brand through as many communication channels as possible. Besides building a strong social media presence, entrepreneurs should also raise their business profile by attending industry events and conferences. Additionally, they should be open to the idea of networking at events that may not be in their core area of business. The idea is to connect with industry professionals across sectors and expand their support system. Engaging in face-to-face conversations with peers and senior leaders will place new companies at an advantage as this paves the way for long-term success. Networking events, expos and industry conferences are the ideal platform for entrepreneurs to leverage their brand and build trust in the community. Such forums could also open new revenue-generation avenues and attract investors to the startup. T-Hub recognizes the power of networking and regularly conducts national and international events where startups receive benefits such as mentoring and funding from key stakeholders. Such avenues provide a platform for startups to gain access to better technology and a superior support system.
Add value: There are multiple benefits accruing from networking. Not only do entrepreneurs connect with other business owners, they also build their knowledge base and skill sets. Importantly, they gain an outside point of view that is vital for continued growth. By interacting with other professionals and mentors, entrepreneurs gain insights into how competitors are building their business and unleashing their creativity. This is also a great way for startup founders to get involved in their community and the ecosystem at large. Networking platforms provide young startups easy access to valuable resources that could be tapped into at various stages of the company’s life cycle.
T-Hub, too, has enabled several startup success stories by offering resources such as access to service providers and corporate referrals to its growing community of entrepreneurs.
Sustain relationships: Networking shouldn’t be approached with a myopic mindset. It’s imperative that entrepreneurs strategise for the long-term and prepare themselves for both macro and micro challenges the startup ecosystem might throw up. They should prioritize cultivating relationships both within and outside their network so as to reach out for help whenever needed. Likewise, the founders of startups must also offer their expertise to others to showcase their capabilities.
A business can be expanded only when entrepreneurs fully invest in relationship building with investors, partners, vendors, customers, and even competitors. Nurturing relationships will result in more referrals and repeat business as individuals will place their trust and faith in the company. Regardless of the size and heft of the startup, entrepreneurs must be proactive and attempt to reach out to their network—especially customers—to receive feedback and show them that they matter to the business. Remember, however strong a startup’s product and service portfolio may be, its business cannot grow unless the founder is committed to active networking.
T-Hub prides itself in offering entrepreneurs networking opportunities at every stage of their company’s journey. It is our belief that when new stakeholders join forces to help the startup community, immense value is added to the startup ecosystem.
Undoubtedly, the power of a strong network cannot be ignored in the ‘LinkedIn’ age. Building new connections and collaborating with potential associates are key to propelling a startup’s growth and getting it noticed in a crowded marketplace. The valuable exposure startup founders gain through networking will aid them in building and scaling their business to retain a competitive edge in the long-run.
As Virgin founder and serial entrepreneur Richard Branson says, “These days, the only thing stopping you from building up your network is how much time you dedicate to it. Everyone can and should be a networker.”
We at T-Hub help startups gain access to better technology, talent, business networks and funding. Be a part of T-Hub Community. Join us here.