The StartupNation Blog Trends, tips and real-life anecdotes from industry experts

Tips for Networking in the Beginning…

I was a little stumped about what to write about this week.  A lot has been going on in my world, but for some reason, I could not pinpoint the one little thing that I wanted to share.  My new website for moms in transition is SLOWLY coming together (not as fast as I would like); I made some fabulous headway with my product that I am creating (actually fabulous headway = very small, little steps); and I rocked work/life balance for just a few days.  Nothing there was sticking with me though.

I got to thinking about my little adventure, and how far I travelled since last year.  I wish that they made an odometer for this sort of thing (hint: great invention idea).  There needs to be some sort of way to measure how far a person goes as an entrepreneur (I know, that is what profit is for).  If I had to guess, I would say that my growth over the last year spanned from the east coast to the west figuratively.

Now, I am not saying this because I want to give myself a big pat on the back, but rather because I want to make mention of those that helped me from the beginning.  It can be scary to branch out on your own – Right? It was at this point that I realized that this week was about paying it forward…all the way back to the beginning.

Article is continued below

There really are a lot of people that assisted me and gave me the confidence that I needed in the early days, but ONE awesome mompreneur sticks out in my mind.  Not only is this mom entrepreneur incredible, but she also has ties to StartupNation……Leslie Haywood, founder of Grill Charms.  I came across Leslie in the Forum Discussions here at SUN, and I knew that I saw her somewhere – oh yeh, on the ABC show – Shark Tank!

If you know me just the tiniest bit, you know that I am not shy.  So, I looked up Leslie’s site for Grill Charms and emailed her. I figured “what could I lose!”  There were some steps in between (more on that below).  I wrote Leslie a little introduction about myself and what I was up to in the start-up/inventing world, and would she ever have time to lend me some wisdom?  Guess what?  Leslie got back to me!

Now, Leslie does business mentoring in her local biz community, but she was willing to chat on the phone for a bit with me and point me in a few directions.  That was ENOUGH, and was all I needed!  We arranged for a time, and Leslie and I had a quick chat by phone…..she recommended some resources, shared some of her ups and downs, and most of all – delivered enthusiasm.

What is the point of all this?  First of all, a big thanks to Leslie!  I only hope that I can do the same for others in the way that Leslie gave me a quick dose of encouragement.

Secondly, when starting a new venture, it is crucial to network and put yourself out there. Except, you cannot just start cold-calling people all over and asking for help and advice.  You need to be studious in your homework when networking, and you will get good results.

Here are some tips for networking and reaching out for advice or help:

  1. When looking to connect with someone you do not know, DO your research.  Check out their website, Read up on their business & be able to have a knowledgable conversation.
  2. Choose people that have experience in your vertical or your niche that will be honest with you about the market.
  3. Note this new person’s style.  Are they formal, casual, or do they love abbreviations?  When you Reach out to this person use their style.
  4. Thank you’s go a long, long way.  If you successfully connect with someone who helps you out, make sure to thank them!  Manners still go a long way!
  5. When you become successful, remember who did what for you AND pay it forward.

This week is National Small Business Week, and although I did not attend the official meetings, I did follow some of the live feed and news coverage.  It is exciting to see so many successful people in Small Biz.  So, in my own little way, this is my way of celebrating the champions of Small Business, and lending my experience to those starting out.  Rachel

To read more about my experiences and more about networking, check out http://backngroovemom.com

About the Author: Rachel Blaufeld

Lineage2, Aion, Blade And Soul

StartupNation Free Launch Assessment! Get Started Now