Top Tips to Improve Your Startup Network

Business people networking.

When you’re launching a startup, it’s important to have a network of people that can help guide you to the best resources, inform you of the best decisions to help you improve your business, and give you the best advice on how to overcome obstacles.

There are a plethora of ways startup networking can help you navigate your new business. There are also a variety of ways you can improve your network in a short amount of time using simple startup networking tips.

Why Is Networking Important for My Startup?

Startup networking consists of finding the best resources to guide you during the beginning stages of your business. Think of startup networking as finding a mentor, or a series of mentors, to help you navigate the world of entrepreneurship. These startup networks can help you in a variety of ways, including:

  • Teaching you how to grow your business
  • Guiding you to the best customer base
  • Informing of you ways to develop a business plan
  • Helping strengthen your social network
  • Helping you develop a marketing plan that works
  • Informing you of the best ways to overcome challenges as a startup and as you continue your business

Top 7 Tips and Strategies for Networking

As an Entrepreneur, you might be wondering, “What are the best strategies for startup networking?” Fortunately, there are a variety of networking tips that can help you gain a competitive edge and have a team of like-minded successful entrepreneurs by your side.

These network tips are easy to follow and can help you get connected with the right people to get you the best types of resources available for your business.

1. Reach Out on Social Media

If you admire a business owner or a certain public figure in your industry, there’s no reason you can’t reach out to them on social media. In fact, around 97% of businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, rely on the power of social media in order to reach out to customers and stakeholders.

By sending a message to a business on social media, such as a business’s Twitter or Instagram page, you can ensure a representative for that company will reach out and try to satisfy your inquiry. You can send a message to a business and ask questions like:

  • Can I reach out to a representative for advice?
  • Would it be possible to schedule a meet-up with your team leadership?
  • I am a student or entrepreneur; how can I reach out to your team for resources and information?

This is a great method to use for smaller businesses, since chances are the owner of that company will reach out to you personally. However, for larger companies, you might also be redirected to valuable resources for your entrepreneur ventures.

2. Attend Networking Events

There are various networking events such as business conferences, board meetings, and events you can attend to help expand your network. However, it isn’t enough to simply attend an event for startup networking. 

Some of the best strategies to improve business network during these events include:

  • Bring business cards with you to share at different booths or with different attendees.
  • Bring a notebook and a pen so you can take handwritten notes. If you’re able to attend a conference and interview a potential mentor, you can also use your notes to write down important networking tips.
  • Attend different talks and have questions prepared for speakers you know will present at these events.
  • Feel free to ask questions about general business advice or unique challenges you are currently facing.

Recommended: Check out our list of the best networking platforms for startups.

3. Visit Businesses In Person

By visiting a business in person, you have the opportunity to view their daily operations first-hand. You also have the opportunity to speak to employees, customers, and experts in the field to see how they face daily challenges. In the process, you can develop a network of people with real-world experience in your startup.

For instance, if you want to begin a cannabis dispensary shop, feel free to walk in and ask if you can speak to the business owner in person.

Visiting a business in person can be done respectfully (and successfully to grow your network) by following these tips:

  • Schedule a meeting for a day or more after you initially visit the business. This allows you to respect the time of the business itself. Although walk-ins are still common practice, some businesses might consider it rude to simply walk in and ask to take up their time, so make sure to schedule a sit-down later on.
  • Ask to speak to the manager or owner of the business, and consider talking with them on a lunch or coffee date instead of a formal interview. This can allow them to open up to you more and potentially start a mentorship.
  • Ask for a walkthrough or tour of their business as it operates during business hours. Be an observer and ask questions about daily tasks. 

4. Send Out Cold Emails

A cold email is a type of email sent to another company or potential customer advertising your business or campaign to them. The purpose of cold emails is to gain sales, partnerships, or other benefits from another person or consumer.

Whether you’re trying to find new customers or investors for your business, or you want to reach out to a potential mentor, sending out cold emails is one of the best ways to do so. In fact, independent studies have cited a response rate of one in five for cold emails. 

When sending out a cold email to a potential mentor or business, keep these networking tips in mind:

  • Keep it brief. Most people responding to emails are extremely busy and might only have time to read a short paragraph about your intentions.
  • State your name and company clearly, or your potential business ventures. 
  • State clear intentions. For instance, “I would like to schedule a possible future meeting to chat about your business and your journey towards growth if you have the time.”
  • Thank the reader and leave contact information, either by stating you can be emailed back or leave a phone number.

5. Look for Networking Opportunities at School

If you’re still a student, there are various opportunities at your educational institution for networking. These include:

  • Joining a fraternity that emphasizes merit in academics, such as Phi Theta Kappa. This is great on a resume, but as an entrepreneur, allows you to be part of a larger organization with like-minded individuals and potential business partners and mentors.
  • Speaking to your professors about their career paths, whether they know anyone that can help you grow your business and challenges they faced as entrepreneurs or in their professional careers.
  • Attending seminars and clubs on campus and networking with speakers that visit your club.

6. Build an Online Profile on a Networking Site

One of the best startup networking online platforms today is the website LinkedIn. Online platforms like LinkedIn, Xing, and Meetup are networking sites designed for professionals, allowing you to connect with industry professionals online. These online platforms allow you to develop a profile that lists your job experience, interests, and future goals in your field. 

These online platforms are powerful tools that can help you get in touch with mentors who are interested in helping you succeed, share their tips for success, and who can be reached directly through the platform.

7. Join Online Forums

Online forums are great ways to ask questions about your specific business and get in touch with like-minded individuals and experts willing to give their expertise, especially for free. You can find niche forums related to your startup business, such as a forum dedicated to sellers of knit crafts online, or you can join bigger platforms like Reddit.

Reddit, in particular, is quite valuable since they have a variety of subreddits on different topics. These subreddits also host AMA events, or Ask Me Anything events, where you can feel free to ask questions to experts, get real responses, and gain valuable feedback on your startup!

Frequently Asked Questions

What strategy is best to improve my business network?

All of these strategies are effective at helping you improve your circle of like-minded entrepreneurs, mentors, and strategists in your field. However, some of these might work well for you as opposed to others based on your time constraints, accessibility, and other barriers. 

For instance, if you cannot easily travel to a business for meetings in person, emailing and conducting phone calls, or using online networking platforms, will be a better choice.

Can I utilize multiple startup networking tips and strategies?

Yes. For instance, you can combine cold emailing with networking online, and you can keep a lookout at your campus for business conferences and events. There’s never a shortage of opportunities to network with others, so take every opportunity you can to expand your support for your startup.

Should I use my real name when startup networking?

You should set up professional profiles using your real name whenever possible. This allows mentors and experts to be more likely to contact you. Make sure to use a professional email with your company name or your name. 

How do I send a cold email?

Always send emails with clear headings that state your intention within the subject line. For example, “Meeting request for potential mentee,” or “Request from ______ for advice on startup.” A clear heading allows you and your mentor to access your email easily. Keep it short (less than five lines of text), and leave contact information and appropriate times to contact you. 

Contact the human resource office of the business you are trying to email for the best point of contact for a meeting about your startup. Most companies are willing to share at least contact information for potential partners or even clients.