Photo: Chriskamaris via Flickr
I often recommend business networking as the most effective way for a startup founder to find investors, advisors, and even key executive candidates. But what if you are an introvert, or new to this game, and don’t know where or how to start?I have learned over the years that there is an etiquette to this process, just like there is for social networking.
There are other networks that also work, depending on where you are in the world, like Ryze, Plaxo, and Facebook, but setting up an account on MySpace probably won't help you.
Business groups like Tie-The Indus Entrepreneurs and EO-Entrepreneurs organisation are places to meet people you can help, as well as people who can help you.
Remember it helps to give a little to get something back. Another place to start is the local Chamber of Commerce.
Start with the people you know, who know your work, and would recommend you to others. It isn't always the first introduction, but the friend of a friend that may be the one that pays dividends.
They won't be well-received.
DON'T corner and barrage that heavy hitter you heard about with your life history at a social gathering
Be respectful of their time, which means not being a pest.
DON'T send your unfinished business plan unsolicited to every VC or investment group you can find in the phone book, just to see if they like the concept
It's a waste of everyone's time.
If you're hoping people will be impressed with how unique and expensive it looks, they won't.
DON'T complain to everyone on LinkedIn that you are limited to only 3000 invitations, and ask them to send you an invitation to become friends instead
(That's pretty rude).
Back on the positive side, I like to say, especially for us introverts, that networking is more about listening than it is about talking. Believe it or not, most successful investors have big egos, and will probably remember you better if they do most of the talking at first.
Nevertheless, have your elevator pitch honed, and don't be shy about giving it. Don't forget your enthusiasm, and have fun, but remember your manners!
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