Networking. It can be a bad word for some. Though it needn’t be that difficult, I believe. And it reveals certain qualities that are fantastic in a startup.
I attended a few events this past week, including Silicon Milkroundabout and Hacker News (where Rob Fitz was promoting his £10k Startup Challenge). At both events, I knew nobody going into the event. At both events, I randomly struck a conversation with people, and both conversations turned out to be productive, friendly, enlightening, and just perhaps even fruitful!
So what gives? It’s clearly not my good looks, if that’s what you’re wondering. It’s not even my sparkling personality (I think I was wearing my “let’s get down to business” frown)
It was simply about being interested in the other person. Getting over myself and my needs.
I didn’t care whether that person was the technical hire that I so badly need. I didn’t care how much time I was going to talk to the person. I didn’t care where the conversation was going to go.
I just wanted to know about the other person. What drives him. What are his interests. What are his opinions. I think that’s the key to great networking.
My friend Haroon is currently in Silicon Valley, trying to find a position in the hyper-competitive startup world over there. Most logical people would tell him he’s crazy. But you know what - I think he’s going to be successful. Why?
Because he’s not about himself, which makes him a genuinely good networker. And that quality also makes him a good teammate and startup guy. You know that he’ll be 110% committed to the effort. You know he’s going to be the team and the company above himself. You know there’s no way he would allow his own fears and insecurities to get in the way.
So I say practice being a good networker. Because those skills will come handy to any startup.