Since what we accomplish is often linked to who we meet, first time entrepreneurs are particularly motivated to extend their network for new relationships leading to partners, customers, team members and capital sources to name just a few.
But even with a wish list of possible relationship needs, it’s not practical to jump into every group or event we see or blindly flail about without a plan increasing odds of success in locating and interacting with those we are looking to meet.
That probably begins with figuring out where the richest environments might be – not only with the densest population of our targets, but also connectors that might lead to the high impact sources we’re seeking.
As an example, since most VC’s depend on referrals from trusted sources as their primary source of new deal flow, it’s worth thinking about who supporters are in the ecosystem like the right service providers, angel investors and other referring sources who can be more easily accessed through networks and group events.
High value in meeting new people face to face
A surprising number of millennials I meet seem hesitant to put much time and effort into building their network by regularly pursuing higher volume of face to face interactions with people or groups they don’t yet know.
The comfort of working the keyboard to troll through social networks and existing connections seems more time efficient – to which I respond “Keep doing whatever is working for you – but if you’re not yet finding the people you want help from, maybe it’s time to mix in some traditional methods of how most new relationships get started.”
We know that when we first meet someone face to face, we’re likely to follow social norms with a courteous dialogue that subtly has each person checking the other out. Both parties arrive at their respective conclusions with a lot of intuition and non verbal clues that simply can’t come across in email or an online profile.
With even a brief interaction, we’ll generally know whether we’ve been able to generate the needed spark of interest with whom we’re talking to – thus guiding us towards which of the people we just met will get some follow up attention.
And since some of the strangers we meet turn out to be givers who want to help, the human dynamic of meeting them in person stimulates curiosity and dialogue that may result in offers that would have been very hard to stimulate from a direct “cold call” or digital approach to that same person.
You give before you get
People who haven’t done business in Silicon Valley are generally surprised to hear the ethos of “pay it forward” is what truly powers startups there. The ease at which first time entrepreneurs are able to both find and access so many of the right givers is the essential glue that makes it the most entrepreneur supportive environment on the planet.
And giving is not limited to just those who are already advanced in their professional journey or accomplishment. If you’re the person seeking help, you have a chance to show your stuff and surprise someone by figuring out some small give to a person you just met and don’t know well yet.
Even if it’s just a small nugget of info that is on target with that person, being proactive in giving sets you up for being memorable and perhaps starting a new relationship instead of a forgotten interaction of no value to either party.
Can’t predict what comes downstream
When I peel back the history of some of my most life changing relationships, a surprising number can be traced back to origins from unanticipated creative collisions.
A majority of the initial interactions were with people who in turn introduced me to the high impact investor, partner, customer or team member not present at the event where I met the connector.
Other people on a young team might have roles less dependent on securing high impact external relationships. But for the founder/CEO in an emerging company, expanding the relationship network is a sufficiently high impact activity to justify being an ongoing part of the schedule.
Even though some events and groups won’t pan out as productive exercises, the ones that do will yield results to make all the difference in the journey.
Related post: Building Relationship Capital