Developing unique products and services, investing in brilliant branding and enhancing your online presence are all valuable strategies for a successful new business.
But networking is vital to entrepreneurial success for 78 per cent of startups.
Making commercial connections in a relaxed and informal manner can help you garner valuable advice from peers and might even lead to future collaborations.
With that in mind, here are three startup networking strategies to help you grow your business.
1. Local networking.
If you’re aiming to establish a foothold in your community, or an entirely new area, local networking is really worthwhile.
And the ideal time to start making local connections is well in advance of your launch party — you could benefit from valuable cash-saving advice on co-working spaces, support services and marketing opportunities.
Joining your local chamber of commerce will help you plug into an instant network of nearby businesses in different sectors and of different sizes. Their social diaries are usually packed with promising events and they might even offer free advertising opportunities.
Alternatively, search online for smaller meetings where you can hook up with businesses more closely aligned with your aims.
If you’ve set up a B2B business, establishing trust is crucial — so meeting you or your representatives in person will provide a human touch that quickly enhances your reputation.
2. Speed networking.
If you’re confident and can talk the hind legs off a donkey, BNI speed networking events allow you to make multiple connections in super-quick time.
And the corporate equivalent of speed dating comes complete with its own conventions — fellow attendees will expect you to have a pre-prepared pitch and talking points, to chat in an honest and straightforward manner and to have business cards and supporting materials in plentiful supply.
By swiftly casting a wide web, you’ll collect lots of new connections to follow up with and simply sift out those that aren’t appropriate — all in the space of an hour.
If you’re setting up in a new city, these types of large-scale events offer the rare opportunity to make an impression with lots of influential contacts face-to-face.
It’s not for everyone, but speed networking is worth trying at least once.
When you want to make useful business connections online and promote your offering, LinkedIn offers excellent segmentation that allows you to target specific sectors and job roles.
It spans the business spectrum — providing a platform for niche B2B businesses like Penmann to publish interesting articles about food industry cooling technology and global business moguls like Ray Dalio to blog about their latest trip to Davos.
And it’s become increasingly interactive and user-friendly — you can make your LinkedIn networking even more effective by including popular search terms in your profile and using paid ads to increase your reach.
These three startup networking opportunities will help you grow your new business in a strong and sustainable fashion.
What type of networking do you find most effective?