Startup Lessons Learned: Your Network is More Than Your Social Network

This is mScreen Shot 2016-04-14 at 5.40.24 AMore like a ‘startup lessons remembered’ but worthy nonetheless. It’s about your social network, and how that can be limiting if you only rely on it to establish partnerships.

I’m working on a large partner strategy here at Dasheroo, and have 10-12 potential companies I’m targeting. Do I have C-level contacts at all of these companies? Nope. My awesome advisors have contacts at some of them; some very recent and relevant and others more of just a LinkedIn connection. And as we all know, all connections are not created equal. For instance, I’m connected to a few thousand folks; I may only really know a few hundred of those, and of those I’m not really that up to date on where they are or what they are doing.

So for the companies I was really lacking connections for, I started with what I call ‘LinkedIn stalking’. Go to my favorite social network LinkedIn and start searching for CEO, CPO and CMO folks to connect to. Then when they connect, BAM! I start a dialog that develops into my pitch.

This can be a laborious effort. And since it’s semi-cold, not always going to have a great success rate.  Same can be said of the intros you can get from one of your 1st degree connections to someone you want to connect with.

So the other day, I was having drinks with an old friend of mine. Nothing business related, just a catch-up after not seeing him for a year or so. Eventually we touched on business & I mentioned my big project. After a few minutes, Nick’s eyes lit up and he said “Have you ever thought of <company name>? They’ve switched their strategy the past year and this could be a perfect fit! I just spoke to their CEO last week.”

So Nick introduced me to their CEO, with great context and a very personal ‘in’. We instantly scheduled what was a very productive meeting that hopefully leads to a great deal for both of us.

What this reminded me was: all too often we hope or expect a connection on social media will turn into something, but working your personal connections can be far more productive. So get out there, hop on a Zoom or meet up in person and work it!

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