Networking is a valuable business asset for startups. It has laid a solid foundation of success for many startups.
Take the example of Ben Orenstein, the founder of Tuple, a pair programming app for developers. Before he launched his app, he already had 5000 customers on his mailing list and $8000 in revenue because these customers were a part of his Twitter audience network. Now, that’s what you call network-led growth!
Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs overlook networking as they already have much on their plate. However, networking can give you a much-needed breakthrough in business and open the door to new opportunities.
Let’s understand why networking is essential and how you can do it.
Benefits of Network-Led Growth
Your startup can reap several advantages from networking:
Meet Potential Investors
If you are looking for fundraising, networking can help you soft sell your product and get new investors to back your business. You can create a target investor list and engage them through in-person meetings, emails, or social media content.
This will help you to build a strategic relationship with them for maximum network-led growth. You may never know when they will decide to invest in your startup or recommend it to other investors!
Find Potential Customers
It could be challenging to get traction in the market when you have just launched a product. You may not have enough marketing budget to advertise your product to customers.
Networking can help you connect with people in their network, create a buzz about your product and get ‘warm’ leads. You can acquire new customers at a much lesser cost through networking.
Acquire New Talent
According to a study by Analytics India, startups have the highest attrition rate at 43.7%. Hiring is a time and cost-intensive activity. It compels you to spend your valuable resources on finding talent rather than building your business and core capabilities.
Therefore, Networking is a cost-effective way of talent acquisition. Referrals from networking can help you eliminate initial screening and hire cofounders or teams from trusted sources, boosting network-led growth.
Get Access to Resources
Technology, accounting and finance, legal and administrative, sales and marketing, branding and mentorship – a startup needs several tools and resources to grow business.
Networking can give you easy access to these resources, which otherwise would have been difficult to gain on your own in your shoestring budget.
Get a Learning Experience
Networking gives you ample opportunities to meet investors, fellow entrepreneurs, industry experts and other like-minded people. You can gather knowledge and insights from these people, exchange ideas and get feedback on your product. You can talk to other entrepreneurs who have experienced similar problems and learn from their mistakes.
Networking can help you escape tunnel vision, a trap you can develop when building your business.
Improve Business Visibility
Have you noticed how the reality television show Shark Tank India boosts the visibility of participating startups, even for those who don’t get an investment? Well, till you get your lucky chance to make it to the show, networking is the next best thing you can do to get noticed in the startup ecosystem.
As people become familiar with your venture, they spread the word about it to their networks.
Network-led Growth: What Are the Best Ways to Network?
When it comes to networking, the world is your limit. You can tap into both digital and offline channels. Digital channels are cost-effective and give you a wider audience, while offline channels make interactions more personal and memorable.
Here is a list of these channels:
- Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Quora
- Online discussion forums
- Content formats such as blogs, webinars, podcasts, white papers and case studies
- CoffeeMug (an AI-based networking platform)
- Virtual networking events
- Business events such as conferences and exhibitions
- Pitch competitions
- Local startup groups and industry associations
- Co-working spaces
- Community meetups
Network-led growth can take your venture to the next level and give you a sense of belonging in the vast startup ecosystem.
However, make sure that you identify your goals to make the most of your networking opportunities. Be active and consistent in networking, so your startup remains top-of-mind with people.
Get in touch with us to know more.