By Ed McLaughlin and Wyn Lydecker
Promoting your new business may seem daunting, but it’s really quite simple. You just have to get out there. As Woody Allen says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ So go out and make connections, and let the world know what you are doing! Here are some simple tips to maximize your network experience:
1 – Attend Conferences and Meetups
If you’re thinking of starting your own business, one of the best ways to learn more about the world of entrepreneurship is to attend startup events. Going to conferences and meetups aimed at entrepreneurs might seem like a waste of time, especially if the you are not sure if the speakers will be boring or the pace slow. But don’t be fooled: Attending these events enables you to meet other people with like minds, expand your network, and gain more knowledge about the world of startups. Attending these events is also one of the best ways to gain influence while learning about the community of entrepreneurs, investors, and advisors.
2 – Prepare
Networking in today’s digital age is no longer just about handing out business cards. If you want to effectively network and build connections, you need to prepare, present value, and follow up. The good news is that social media and the Internet make it much easier to do this.
Unless you’re an expert or have been in the industry, you should do a little homework so that you can talk confidently to other attendees. Know the industry, organization, or group that is holding the networking event. Read trade publications, press releases, and profiles on websites, as well as social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Read blogs to become aware of issues in your chosen field.
3 – Have Goals for the Event
Set some goals for whom you would like to meet. Do research on your targets. If you think you will need to raise funding for your startup, learn about the investors who will be present. Walking up cold to a VC and looking like you are out of your comfort zone will stop any relationship in its tracks. VCs tend to invest in specialized areas. Know in advance what those specialties are and what companies they have invested in. Be prepared with questions so that you can get answers that will arm you with greater knowledge. Use social interests and think mutual ground topics. Dale Carnegie used to tell his students that they should always read the newspaper in the morning so they could talk about current events.
Go in to learn what you can do for others – not what they can do for you. Find out what investors and other entrepreneurs are seeking. Can you help them?
4 – Have an Elevator Pitch
Be creative. Prepare and use an elevator speech to capture your listener’s interest. Your elevator speech is a clear statement of who you are, what you do, and the unique value that your product or service brings to the marketplace. Practice your elevator speech and be flexible – you may need to modify it depending on the listener’s business type and needs. Share the value that makes you stand out from the competition. Focus on the value that you bring to others.
Attend events that include pitches from entrepreneurs. You will quickly learn about the formats of pitches, good and bad delivery, and the questions investors ask. Take notes and use what you learn to hone your own pitch and sculpt your slide deck.
5 – Circulate
Most importantly — circulate! The goal of networking is to meet new people in order to create business connections and also to learn about the startup process. Make sure that you make memorable connections with as many attendees and speakers as you can. Then know when to move on — don’t get stuck in one place with one group.
Another valuable networking tip: It’s much easier to pitch to an investor if you have an “in.” Investors don’t like to be bugged by other people that waste their time, so they often rely on people they already know to make the introduction. Get to know people who can make the introductions. And don’t ignore the event coordinators – they are knowledgeable and can be good connectors for you. Use the events to get on the RADAR scope of investors you want to target.
Are You Ready to Start Up?
If you are ready to take the step and fulfill your new business vision, The Startup Roadmap is designed for you. For a limited time, you can get a complimentary eCopy of The Startup Roadmap: 21 Steps to Profitability by clicking this link. If you prefer the print edition, you can purchase it directly from Amazon for $9.99.
Once you have read The Startup Roadmap, please let us know what you think by emailing us at: Ed@ThePurposeIsProfit.com
Ed McLaughlin is currently co-writing the book, The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business, with Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin.
Copyright © 2015 by Ed McLaughlin All rights reserved.