These entrepreneurs have a few successful tricks for making introductions that matter. By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
Networking events are a dime a dozen, and it doesn't always feel like your time is well spent making small talk with people outside of your industry or interests. Looking to make real connections with fellow founders who have the same drive as yourself? We asked entrepreneurs: How do you find like-minded founders to network with in your community/industry? Here's what they had to say.
1. Talk to Other Founders
I've made some of my best connections and friends via other founders in my community. I set up meetings with other founders and as we discuss what's happening in our respective businesses, it's very common that by the end of the meeting, we have both offered to make introductions to other founders who may be able to help us with a specific problem or who are simply good people we should meet.
2. Look to Your Existing Network
I prefer to organically meet others through those who are already in my network. When you're hanging with one great female founder, it's typical that she'll open the door to another, who opens the door to another. And before you know it, you have a robust network of successful women!
3. Attend Trade Shows
I walk every trade show I attend. Whenever I see a product I think is fun or creative, even if it's totally unrelated to what we do (socks), I introduce myself. As a result, I've become great friends with founders working on everything from personal safety to ice cream. We're scattered all over the country so ideas, resources and perspectives aren't just shared across industries but geography, too.
– Erica Easley, Gumball Poodle
4. Look to Mentoring Groups
There are thousands of groups out there where you can mentor and learn from like-minded entrepreneurs. It’s not only great to lend a hand, but for any advice you give, you get it back tenfold. Even if you aren’t an expert in your field, women will appreciate someone who’s been in their shoes.
5. Don't Be Afraid to Introduce Yourself
With the Internet, it's easy to spot amazing founders or business owners in your industry. The trick is not to assume that they're out of your reach, and to make the first move. This means you can send an email, ask for an introduction, or connect on social media. From there, if there's synergy, you can set up a real meeting and get to know each other. Most people are open to making new friends.
6. Find an Organization for Women
Women In Toys, Licensing and Entertainment connected me with hundreds of like-minded women in my industry. Aside from giving you the tools and relationships to grow your business, they operate in a very collaborative manner, heavily relying on volunteers. By getting involved, you get to know otherfounders intimately. I've found the more effort you put in, the more like-minded people you meet.
7. Join Professional Groups
Joining and becoming involved with professional organizations has introduced me to many like-minded founders. I have made my most solid connections from attending conferences for these events. It has been a tremendous resource to have these people within my industry from all around the globe. I love our yearly reunions at these events.
8. Join Private Facebook Groups
There are a plethora of private vetted Facebook groups, especially in social, digital and PR agency industries where you are able to meet and collaborate with other executives and founders in meaningful ways. Many of these groups sponsor meet-ups across the country for in-person networking. Members can also collaborate in live time on questions or opportunities other members post daily.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.