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How to network as a founder

How to network as a founder

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How to network as a founder

We’ve all probably heard the adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” when it comes to business. And while that’s not entirely true, there is something to be said of the power of leveraging one’s network effectively. We sat down with Le’Spencer Walker, Director, Target Accelerators Activation & Growth Team to score his tips on how to grow and engage your network to better benefit your business. His advice, below. 

  1. Build a network plan: “This should feel tactical and approachable at the same time,” says Le’Spencer. “I recommend writing things down and using an objective-based approach to plan this out.” Le’Spencer recommends a tool called the Brand Canvas Model, which can help you identify key partners and resources needed to deliver against your objective. If, as you’re writing out your plan, you find you’re low in a few areas, that is where you can lean in to build your network to fill those gaps. For example, if you identify that your objective is to find the best distribution partner in the Southeast region, you can go into meetings with potential partners with very specific questions that will help you not only find the best partner, but also learn along the way.  
  2. Approach and best practices: Engage contacts in your network with intention and sincerity. “You want to make sure that you treat each interaction with respect. This is a human-to-human connection,” says Le’Spencer. Longevity of that relationship is important, and the emotional memory of that relationship will go a long way.” You’ll also want to make sure that you are truthful about yourself and your business, he notes. Finally, “If you have to give a pitch, relax,” Le’Spencer advises. “A true unforgettable pitch not only has a lot of informative data, but a human connection.”  
  3. Following up with new and existing connections: Once you create a connection you must nurture the relationship. Be friendly, be specific and leave the person with a call to action. For example, ask specific questions like “Are you free to connect next Tuesday at 2PM?” or “Are you prepared to execute our mutually connected partnership goals to start a fruitful partnership?” At the very least, you’ll get a yes or a no.  

Le’Spencer has his own call to action for you. “Review your Brand Canvas Model, build your plan and connect with people,” he says. “Go build your network.”  

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Post topic(s): Business advicePitching essentials

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