NEWS & INSIGHT | Opinion
Networking for Success: A Guide For Start-ups
With a rich background in entrepreneurship, Edward leads the delivery of the Net Zero Technology Centre’s award-winning TechX Accelerator. Prior to this, he worked to create and deliver the first Startup Accelerator at Robert Gordon University, as well as leading on hosting enterprise events, training programmes and credit-bearing short courses. With a degree in Event Management, Edward is experienced in founding new events, starting small companies and charities. Edward recently completed courses in entrepreneurship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, achieving Fellowship of Enterprise Educators UK and the Higher Education Academy. In 2021, Edward was awarded Rising Star in Enterprise Education for the UK. Edward has also held roles as a lecturer, a member of the Board of Governors and as a university quality reviewer.
Entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with. There is a lot that comes with starting and running your own business, particularly for those that promise to change the world through disruptive technology. As self-made leaders, they must possess a high level of resilience, ambition and willingness to learn. From testing their concepts and prototypes, to understanding the ever-changing market landscape, the discovery phase is essential to understanding whether the business has strong, long-term potential.
This can be accelerated by building meaningful relationships that invite new perspectives and exciting opportunities. That is the power of networking. By getting out there into the ecosystem, whether it be at an event, conference or an online community, networking allows entrepreneurs to gain exposure, forge new connections and harness different expertise and knowledge.
At the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC), we see networking as key to any founder’s success. Our TechX Clean Energy Accelerator opens the doors to an extensive network that would take years to build. Through our diverse community of mentors, partners, suppliers and researchers, who span a range of different sectors, we have seen many start-ups grasp new opportunities that have been pivotal to their growth.
Walking into a room of people you don’t know and attempting to have productive conversations can be a challenge – there is an inevitable temptation to gravitate to someone familiar or pull your phone out. But each room is an opportunity, and for entrepreneurs seeking customers, investors, mentors, staff or simply exposure, it is essential that founders adopt a proactive approach to networking. Below are some key tips on making the most out of any networking opportunity:
- Be prepared – Knowing who is attending the event or workshop is always useful. Don’t hold back on conducting research on them, whether it be a potential mentor or someone with significant links in the relevant industry.
- Elevator pitch at the ready – It’s important to prepare a strong elevator pitch – a concise and compelling introduction that communicates the essence of your idea or company. Start off by identifying the problem your solution can solve, followed by what makes it unique. The goal is to capture the individual’s attention to generate interest, all in under one minute.
- Go deep to find a link – You might start a conversation and after a brief introduction there may not be obvious link, but don’t dismiss the connection too early. Ask questions about their life ambition, passions and any challenges they face. You will always find a useful connection point that could help you learn something valuable.
- Be approachable and authentic – Bring positive energy and people will want to talk to you. While it’s sometimes tiring, you want to try and give each person you meet the same level of enthusiasm, while staying authentic. This is not the time for an aggressive sales pitch, but having the right conversations may lead to rewarding opportunities. Therefore it’s important to be genuine and not undersell or oversell your company.
- Follow up – Make sure to take a note of the connections you make. Even if they don’t provide you with direct value, they may refer you to someone that can help. If you don’t capture their contact details, be sure to leverage social media – LinkedIn is a great resource. It’s important to send a message or email within a few days, to continue the conversation and build up a relationship while their memory is still fresh.
If you are an aspiring founder looking to form new connections, our TechX Connect event series offers a gateway into our diverse energy network. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive the latest updates – we look forward to seeing you!
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