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Networking - Getting back out there

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by Startacus Admin

In part 1 of Vincent Haywood's Startup Diary Vincent started with a a call to action to all wannabe entrepreneurs.

And so Vincent returns for Part 2 and this time Vincent talks up Networking and practicing what you preach. Over to Vincent to explain:

"I wrote a post about Networking on my blog a few months back.  I wrote about how excited I was in meeting so many people from various pitching and network events. I explained startup diaryhow important it is to do this, how beneficial it is and how I should have done this a long time ago.

Four weeks later I hadn’t practiced what I preached.

It’s gone cold out there.  So this week, I’m back on it.  I now have a goal to have a chat with at least five new people a week. This is for advice, investment, new customers (although there will be a lot more contact there), new connections and just getting out there.

In my post I spoke about how powerful networking is, how it quickly moves you to the next step. I used to be very quiet about Braqes, always thought someone one steal the idea. Fact is – at any given time there’s probably a few other people with the same idea.  Read more about my networking opinion.

The past few weeks we have been talking and meeting with about three people for potential investment. Each meeting has asked for more info, more paperwork and more meetings. Which is fine, its all an education. However all the people I have met and chatted with when I first set off on my networking mission have gone quiet. Only because I haven’t kept in touch. There were a few mails back and forth then I went quiet as I moved my priorities to sorting paper work. Don’t get me wrong, paperwork is a priority, but after plucking up the courage to share Braqes with the world and attending loads of meetings and networking events it’s all amounted to silence.

I can’t stress enough how amazing is the progress you make having a network of people. Each one bringing some sort of advice that helps you get that much closer to your goals

So here’s the plan,

First up, my phone is full of contacts from about 6 years ago. Contacts from old jobs, clients, suppliers. Actually I doubt many of them are still the right numbers. So I’m cleaning them up. I want to make every number I add a contact that will have impact on Braqes. This will be customers, Brokers, Accountants, team members, Investors and business partners. (Oh and Mom). Although this has made me realize what a nightmare iOS contacts app is. (Feel free to suggest some contact apps that help you clean up easier)

Next is to go back to LinkedIn and use that bad boy like there is no tomorrow. I hate Linked Spam. I get recruiters sending me job specs at least five times a week. (In most cases it is for Flash development roles – clearly they have been reading my profile). This has made me establish a rule not to spam potential contacts. As much as the spam irritates me, it’s obviously the same for them. I upgraded my LinkedIn account so I can use the ‘Build a lead list’ function. It’s amazing for collecting potential customers. I then look at roles, their twitter accounts, blogs and any other pages so I can make my intro more personal. (Might be stating the obvious here, but in my opinion emailing someone and commenting on a tweet or post they made shows you took the time and didn’t just spam a list of 100 people hoping for a bite) It’s a bit different for investors; the case here is someone needs to introduce you. You can try contact direct but I’ve found that does not get you a response. Going through other contacts have had 100% response rate for me. Guess its because you are being introduced through a level of trust. Simple thing here is to look how you are connected to that person through linked in. Or start a chat on twitter; get to know them through something they posted.

Next are the meetings. Including the potentials I get off the back of LinkedIn. I use the usual’s: Meetup, twitter and other hub meetings to find relevant events. Now be careful on Meetup, there are some really shitty meetups that are basically a room full of egos that will waste your time. People that are just saying they are in the startup world for the sake of it. Look at the attendees, is it more developers, is it more other startup folk like you, are there investors? Chat to some of the attendees, run other networking events past other startup guys. You get to sort out what works for you and what doesn’t. Its worth in the end, I’ve been to events where the room just critiqued body language and fonts used in the deck.

Finally, seeing as this is a journal of sorts. Where are we at with Braqes at this point in time? We saw a broker last week. A really good meeting and a very reputable contact. His black book is extremely powerful and he could probably put us in front of the right people. We are meeting with another investor in about two weeks, I’m excited about this one as he is a tech Angel and knows all about Saas. Just looking at our options right now, this investor situation is like dating – or marriage even. It has to be right.

This week we are launching the Braqes blog to help with SEO efforts, I’ll be talking about the little tips and tricks and cool services we have been using for that too in a later post. (Very interesting as it has shown me the very competitors I’ll be taking on).

So that’s it for this week. I’m now going to list the five people I want to speak to or connect with this week. I’ll use this blog as a commitment tool and tell you if I stuck to my guns and have five new helpful contacts in my newly cleaned up contact list.

Speak soon!"

Cheers Vincent, a good read and we look forward to reading part 3 next week too! (and if by magic - the link to Vincent's 3rd Diary of a Startup blog post appears!)  

If you like articles on networking you might also like Beginner tips on Business Networking and our previous news story Face to Face networking - Lets Lunch to launch in the UK

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Published on: 11th June 2013

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