"I'm seeing these events and groups popping up everyone asking me to network with other Founders, other marketers, devs, growth hackers, or anyone else in the startup community.
Between all the events, conferences, groups and whatnot — should I be spending my valuable time network or just focusing on my startup?"
Most networking is a waste of time.
That's not because having a useful professional network isn't helpful, it's because how we often go about it is really unfocused.
Sure, it's possible that if we go to SXSW we might happen to run into someone that can somehow be useful... someday...maybe.
But wouldn't it make more sense to put that time and expense toward setting up meetings with specific people who can help our startup specifically?
Sure, it will probably involve less gratuitous debauchery, but if going to a tech conference is the coolest way to have fun, we need to get out more!
Instead of showing up at random places and groups, we're better off picking a "theme" for our networking.
For example: "This year I want to network with growth markets in the e-commerce Beauty space."
Or, "I'm trying to build my Rolodex of quality mentors that understand SaaS businesses."
When we narrow our networking focus to a specific theme, it allows us to start narrowing what events (if any) make sense — but it also gives us the opportunity to proactively network.
If we have a theme in mind, we're better off spending our very limited time reaching out to specific people we'd like to meet and asking to get together for a coffee or meeting.
That way, we're growing our network while avoiding the ridiculous amount of wasted time in "hoping" we find the right person who we could just as soon have called.
So yes, networking is a colossal waste of time if we fall into the trap of chance encounters.
If we're not calling the meeting, we probably shouldn't be attending.
Don’t Be a Creeper or a Wallflower: 5 Ways to Network at B2B Events. Conferences and B2B networking events can be a great catalyst for growing your startup — but only if you're prepared to "work the room" in the right way.
How Superconnecting Sends Your Business Into Overdrive. Learn how to develop meaningful relationships by communicating like a human being, keeping tabs on everyone you meet, building on other people's real estate, and asking interesting questions.
Founder Groups (podcast). The Founder's journey can be a lonely one, but it doesn't have to be. Join Wil and Ryan as they discuss why you should consider hosting Founder Groups, how they're helpful, and how they've helped us with our Startups.
Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes Bizplan, Clarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.
Every entrepreneurs struggles. Yes, even Elon Musk. Heading both Tesla and SpaceX was never the original plan, and unsustainable at that. But, by building a stronger team and selectively adding talent and expertise through levels at both companies, Musk was able to maximize his productivity and have some semblance of work/life balance.