History of the Fear
When we are little and we get made fun of for something dumb as all little kids do, we are told by our parents and other grown ups that we are smart and that the other kids are just jealous. Or at least we are told something similar to that so we just stop trying. The other place of this fear comes from social pressures. One of the main social pressures is being told not to talk to strangers because they may be dangerous or weird. This is terrible advice and in business is really terrible advice as you need to be talking to everyone you can about your product or service, within reason. I say within reason because you don’t want to be that annoying guy that drives away all their friends or potential friends because they can’t talk about anything else other than their sales pitch.
The Unhelpful Advice We Believed
We then believe that knowing how to get things done is the thing that will get us places. This is wrong for the most part. We all need to know that it is important to be social and network with people. If nothing else is taken from this website, this lesson should be at least learned.
Moving to a New Area
If you move to a new area or just don’t know a lot of people and especially you don’t know a lot of people in the startups and entrepreneurial space you will need to figure out how to meet those types of people. This post aims at helping you do that. Digital spaces such as forums and LinkedIn are good places to find people to talk to about projects but not so much as actually meeting with them and talking with them. There are ways though, so they will be listed when possible.
Networking in General
It is important to network with certain groups.
- Business related connections in person
- Business related connections online
Friends are important because they will help you with your sanity, and many times they know someone you should probably know for your business. They may have tech skills, a group of hard to get to investors, etc. You will want to keep your friends and keep time for them so that you don’t lose your marbles. Making a business is very stressful and you will want to escape and make time for them. They are your friends aren’t they? Make sure to keep the friends you have, and keep making friends as you go on through life. They will be an important part of your life and you an important part of their life. Remember to give them value as they are giving you value. Building a business is very much like friendship in that way. You help them, they help you. Always try to be giving but remember that you must survive so to also take.
It is sometimes difficult to make these connections so we turn to the internet to find like minded folks. Meetup.com is my favorite place to find groups of like minded folks. There are other tools however and we have them listed below. You can find all kinds of cool people that play pool, play video games, or whatever you are looking for.
Business related connections in person are important because they are similar to friends but in a business related capacity. A good example of this is my business advisor I go see once in a while. I ask him questions, and I give him new resources I have found. That is one of the reasons I have founded this wiki is so that he can have a massive resource to pull from and give to his clients. I also have an insurance guy who is excellent as an insurance guy and just someone to talk to about things. There is a barrier most of the time to these connections though so they will not be the friends that come to your house and play video games or chase skirt with you. You can get them into those situations but often that won’t happen. There are connections like this as well as ones you meet through entrepreneurial and WordPress and other business type related meetup groups. You can meet them at conferences and other business related meeting situations. You get their card, you call them or email them, and you have a connection to work with. You send them business they send you business, they hook you up with a business, etc.
It is sometimes difficult to make these connections so we turn to the internet to find like minded folks. Meetup.com is my favorite place to find groups of like minded folks. There are other tools however and we have them listed below. You can find all kinds of cool people that are interested in WordPress, Adobe products such as Photoshop, startup and entrepreneurial groups, business professional groups, or whatever else there can be.
Business related connections online are also important to cultivate so that you have many resources to use as well as many valuable websites with links pointing to your website or referring to your business services. They may blog about how awesome your company is and give the contact information. They may just post a giant link somewhere to your site. We are doing that for many of our friends here on The Great Startup Wiki. Some may point back. Sometimes it is not advantageous for them to point back to your site or business however so don’t become upset. It doesn’t matter so much as long as you provide value to your customers and visitors.
It is important to cultivate not only on regular websites but social websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. There are many services that can help you cultivate those connections however. They are called social media management services. It is worth it in my opinion.
It is also important to cultivate connections in forums. Reddit is a type of forum but most forums are built with phpbb or other similar forum board platforms. There is research that says that forum users are 7 times as valuable as regular website visitors. The reason being that they are actually looking for the information and interacting with people in a slower fashion to acquire that information and so they are more likely to care about what your product is. Also the users in those forums are a lot of times also people that run websites and businesses so it is a good place to foster online business connections as well as make sales. The ads are most useful for that but that is a whole different discussion to get into somewhere else.
It is sometimes difficult to make these connections so we have listed some resources below. I prefer to use Reddit and their massive collection of sub-reddits but other sites such as the social ones are very valid as well such as Facebook.
Some of these come with limited success but are still the best things to try.
Forums that are Startup and Entrepreneurial Related
Forums are good places to find people to chat with about what you are doing and you can collaborate on things sometimes.
- Google Search Result for: Entrepreneur Forum
- Google Search Result for: Startups Forum
- Reddit’s Entrepreneur Sub-Reddit
- Reddit’s Startups Sub-Reddit
- Reddit’s Hardware Startups Sub-Reddit
Places to Find Local Peers or Online Peers
- Best Option: Meetup.com (Search for startup groups, WordPress groups, business groups, and any other group that you fit.)
- SCORE (local chapter finder, meet a mentor)
- LinkedIn (How to meet them in real life related articles: Article 1, Article 2)
- Eventbrite (See if there are any events in your area with people that is more of a people talking kind of thing and go to those)
- Craigslist: (Community > Events, Activities, Classes)
- Facebook (Look for startup or entrepreneurial groups. Find local business owners there and talk to them and ask them if they know of some business folks you could network with.)
- Local Chamber of Commerce group (Search Google for “Chamber of Commerce mycity, mystate” while replacing mycity and mystate with your city and state.)
- EFactor (About Page)
- See also: 18 Social Networks for Entrepreneurs
Talk to Everyone
It is important to talk to everyone you possibly can for friendships and for networking purposes. This means when you are doing the laundry at the laundry mat, the people in line with you at the store, the video gamer that is looking at games near you in GameStop, etc. You never know what relationships you can forge. e.g. I went to put money on my laundry card and a guy was waiting behind me that looked about the same age. People don’t get money on their card unless they are going to go do laundry right then. He had a car to drive to the laundry area where I needed to get back to and I didn’t want to walk. I asked him if he was going to be going there. He was, so I asked if I could get a ride there. He said OK. While driving there I ask if he likes video games like I do. He said he does. So we started talking games. He also has a huge network of friends that like doing the stuff I like doing. If I didn’t just talk I would never have met these people. It is important to take chances. We live one life and no man or woman should attempt to be an island. It just doesn’t work. I have met and forged business relations for going to the local bars even.
Connect with Local Business Owners
If you want to connect with more business professionals you can always walk into a store that you like and ask to set up a meeting with the owner if you can. Small businesses are who you want to connect with. Large businesses like Walmart are more difficult to work with so don’t worry about it for a while. Just tell them you like their business and would like to learn more about that business industry and just to interview them and learn from them. Maybe ask them what problems they face in their business and what would help them. This also gives you opportunity to find a fix for problems as well as forging that networking connection with a local business person.