Are you tired of being at home? It’s easy to get discouraged, especially with all this time away from friends and family. For aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business, and for new founders as well, being stuck at home when you want to be out connecting with people in person can feel especially trying. However, there are steps you can take now—from home—that will help put you in a better position for the future.
Now is the perfect time to expand your network (virtually) and connect with people online. You might be accustomed to more formal types of networking, such as at events or conferences. However, networking online by using platforms like LinkedIn can be a great way to connect with people you might never have had the chance to meet otherwise. Maybe you would like to learn from another founder’s experience, or maybe there’s a subject-matter expert you would love to talk to, but they’re in a different city or country. Try reaching out with a LinkedIn message and starting a conversation with that person.
When connecting with someone new, make sure to include a simple and concise introduction to yourself and your business. If you’re a student, it’s usually helpful to mention that, as people are often more willing to support students. Think of your first message to a new contact like an elevator pitch: a succinct and clear summary of what you do.
Online interactions like this can lead to a phone call or video meeting where you can get to know each other better. When setting up virtual meetings, just like in-person meetings, make sure to have your questions prepared in advance and know what you want to get out of the meeting—whether it’s information, an introduction to another contact, or some other request. Even though you’re not meeting in person, by connecting virtually you are still building your network in a valuable way, and positioning yourself to learn from others. Make sure to stay in touch with your new virtual contacts, and maybe one day you’ll be able to set up an in-person meeting.
On top of building your network, you might want to think about looking for a mentor. Mentors can be amazing resources for new entrepreneurs, sharing their knowledge and experience, as well as connecting you to others. If you’re wondering where to start, check out the Mentorship Program that we run through SA Entrepreneurship, and reach out to us if you have any questions!
Regardless of whether you’re networking online or in person, with a mentor or with another contact, make sure to be open to advice, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re not sure where or how to start building your network, you can always connect with your SA Entrepreneurship team, Laura and Tania—we love hearing from you!