How to Effectively Network and Build Connections as a Founder or Startup Leader
Five Actionable Ways to Expand Your Community
Networking, everyone does it, but how do you do it well?
Networking and building connections is an essential aspect of running a startup. It allows you to tap into new markets, find potential partners and suppliers, and get valuable advice and support from other founders. However, it can be intimidating and time-consuming to build a network from scratch, especially if you're not sure where to start. Here are some tips to help you effectively network and build connections:
- Identify your target audience: Before you begin thinking about building your community,, it's important to have a clear understanding of who you want to connect with. This could be other founders, potential clients or customers, industry experts, or partners. Knowing your target audience will help you focus your efforts and make the most of your networking opportunities.
- Actually attend events: One of the best ways to meet new people and build connections is by getting out in the city and attending industry events, conferences, meetups, etc. After a long few years of Zoom, these events often bring together professionals from a variety of industries and offer plenty of opportunities to network and exchange ideas. You can find a plethora of event listings on the Atlanta Tech Village calendar, the Hypepotamus calendar, the Startup Atlanta ecosystem guide, Meetup.com, and more. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards and make an effort to engage with others at the event. (Here’s nine other ways to level up your in-person event networking game.)
- Utilize social media: Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram are great tools for building connections and finding potential partners or customers. Use these platforms to share updates about your business, engage with others in your industry, and participate in relevant online communities and groups. You might be saying, “I don’t have time to sit for a movement, let alone post on social media!” We say the first step is just posting, even if once a week, post consistently on a channel and the traction will slowly build. (Just ask a few of our AV founders: Lauren, Seth and Christopher!)
- Reach out to potential partners or customers: Don't be afraid to take the initiative and reach out to potential partners or customers directly. This could be through email, social media, or even in-person introductions. Just be sure to have a clear purpose for your outreach and be respectful of their time.
- Follow up and maintain relationships: Building connections is only the first step. It's important to follow up with people you meet and maintain those relationships over time. This could be through regular email or social media contact, attending industry events together, or even just staying in touch with occasional phone calls or in-person meetings. We know a few founders who even track this in an excel spreadsheet. Whatever you do, the small touch bases are meaningful to your community connections.
By following these tips, you can effectively network and build connections (especially in the Atlanta market per our helpful recs!) Remember, building a strong network takes time and effort, but it can pay off in the long run by helping you grow and succeed in your business.