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Friday, November 4, 2011

Who Is That?

Networking is an essential part of building any startup. That is why I wrote 3 articles on networking for an online paper; 1) Networking, 2) Networking:  Essential for Job Search & Startups , and Networking Can Enhance Chances for Success in Your Startup.  The need for developing the skills to network and develop a great list of contacts requires practice for most people.  It is not natural to walk up to someone you have never met and enter into a discussion.  It is even harder to get them to reveal people you should meet or agree to introduce you to their friends.

In a recent meeting on Angel investing the message delivered by professional Angels was the exact same message delivered by Venture Capital investors in a meeting in the NC area; “we do not look at business opportunities that are not brought to us by people we know.”  In a sense, one of the filtering factors used by many people is to eliminate those sending information without an introduction or a known advocate.  By the way, this tends to be similar in many business development scenarios with prospective partners.

One of the primary tasks of any entrepreneur has got to be to develop a network that will help open doors.  Some of the contacts may serve as advisors, mentors, or board members, but the network really needs to be developed more globally.  For example, the legal firm, accounting firm, PR firm, and other service providers can help tap into sources of funding.  Making contact with new people at meetings and networking events is a great way to build a list of people you can rely on.

One great way to get to meet people at meetings is to get a really social friend to go with you.  For example, I have a friend that knows almost everyone in a particular city and has connections worldwide.  He loves to make introductions and sometimes calls himself a matchmaker.  Every time I go to a meeting where he is present, I hang around him.  One of two things usually happens;  1) people will come up to meet him and I get an intro, or 2) he sees someone across the room and flags them down just to make the intro.  This is so great that I have even used it to help my friends.  I have even modified it by flagging people I do not know.  I then introduce them to a friend just so I can meet them too.

Investment professionals that help startups raise capital have a special connection to the funding sources.  While these finders and bankers are helping you, their real client is the funding source.  They develop relationships with the fund managers just so they can get them to look at new investments.

Networking really goes well beyond anything I have addressed this far.  It is important in job search, getting to key people in any venue, developing new friends, and more.  So with that I can conclude:

Who is That?”          The Answer:  It is someone we need to know.