Early stage startups face quite a few problems like: where do I find investors? how to build a perfect team? what’s the best way to attract customers? Until they reach the moment when they are “more like a pirate than a small business owner, and more like a hacker than a programmer” they may use some backup. Internet is full of information but the most valuable lessons are learned through human interaction. Great startup idea at some point will need consulting session with a professional but it’s kind of expensive and it’s not always obvious to whom to go to seek help.
An old saying comes for the rescue: you’re only six contacts away from any person in the world. Probably only startup community can appreciate the saying and make use of it. To understand why it’s not just a cliche but a precious dictum please follow 4 simple steps below which may help your startup get closer to the success.
Step 1. Your Friends
Think of all the people you know and write down their contacts. Before you give up on this, please, treat it as an experiment. Write down your family members, colleagues, people you met on the party last Friday, high school friends, childhood friends etc. Literally all the people you have somewhere in your mind. Yes, those you don’t have contact with anymore should be also included (please, DO change it!). The list isn’t that short, right? If you give it a deeper thought and focus on what your friends do for a living you’ll figure out that maybe all this time you were looking too far.
Let’s move on to next next step.
Step 2. Your friends' friends
Now, focus on who are your contacts’ friends. Your brother works in an awesome company? That’s great! It’s likely he knows someone from a law department. I’m sure one of your colleagues has a brother who’s a geek. Don’t forget about people who know John, the party guy. It’s vital you wrote down EVERYBODY. If you have problems with keeping proper order you may use graphs. Each person from the first list is a source and people he/she knows are leads. Now we’re talking right? This list is quite something. Keep in mind that the list is open. You can add a contact whenever you remind one.
At this point it’s easy to find a professional that may help you with the matter which is the reason your startup reached a dead end. If you kindly ask this person for a favour most probably he/she will be happy to give you a piece of advice avoiding finance and trust problems, in pleasant atmosphere. How does it work? At first it’s based on skill trade rule - maybe one day you’ll be able to help that person. The second thing is everybody without exception likes to be appreciated, this is who we are, we’re vain by nature :) The last but not least - “what goes around comes all the way back around” (Justin knows best!).
I’m pretty sure you’re ready for the next step.
Step 3. Making contacts. Level: easy
Maintain old and make new relationships. Just moved into a new apartment? Invite friends and celebrate! When you met someone new - add him/her to the list! Make use of everyday routine and keep it real, natural. Let’s go a bit further. Make it a challenge and set up a goal - 2 new contacts each day throughout a year. Let me do the math for you: 2x365=730 new contacts on the list. Magic?
Step 4. Making contacts. Level: hard
Since you know everyday routine gives you opportunities to meet your prospective team members, clients/customers or people who may contribute to your startup’s success in any other way, it’s worth thinking how to network on purpose. Be a part of startup communities, go to events where you can meet like-minded people. It’s usually for free but the outcome is invaluable.
Keep in mind that it takes time and requires minimum effort to see the results. That’s why you should start NOW! Note that it’s better to work with people who have the same attitude as you do. It’s more pleasant, more productive and it’ll help your startup sail to success.