Engage in the Startup Community

Sometimes, starting your own business can feel lonely. Often your friends and family have “normal jobs” and cannot relate to the struggles and hard work behind starting a business. Instead, they patronize you with jokes like, “at least you can work in your pajamas all day” or “you don’t even have a boss.” Getting involved in a startup community can help you find peer and friends to relate to as you build your business.

 

Where to Look

Connecting with other entrepreneurs is not difficult in most large cities. First, look to Meetup for startup groups that bring together like minded people. Meetup is an easy an natural way to meet  people, because they are going for the same reason you are, to meet up!

Next, look to official startup groups. For example, in my city there is a group called Startup Denver and a group that plans an annual Startup Week. Startup Weekend is a big event that brings together entrepreneurs all over the world.

I have found that most startup incubators and co-working spaces have great events and programming that help its members connect to outside groups. In Denver we have organizations that have offered great opportunities to find fellow entrepreneurs. UnCubed offered resources for Ignite Denver, Galvanize planned Denver’s i4c, and Creative Density hosted a nerdy singles night called Single Bytes.

 

How to Connect

All entrepreneurs are not outgoing and social extroverts, but that is an important skill to practice when meeting other entrepreneurs. When at a social or business function with others, be ready to share your elevator pitch on what you do and tell a little about yourself and your company very quickly.

Bring your business cards and make sure to have email, Twitter, and website information on them. Remember, most startup folks these days prefer quick electronic communications, not phone calls.

When you begin a conversation, have two thoughts in mind. First, and most important, what can you offer the person you are speaking to. As we all know, people are self-serving. They want to know what they can get out of any situation. Quick wins and measurable outcomes are preferred. Be ready to share what you or your company can offer them, but don’t scare them off with a hard sell.

Second, what can you get or what do you hope to gain? Are you looking for friends? Peers to bounce ideas off? Business partners? Leads? Referrals? Whatever you are looking for, be clear with yourself and create a strategy to help reach those goals.

 

Put Yourself Out There

At the end of the day, it is all about putting yourself out there. There are social risks involved, but rarely any big cost beyond your time. I have made great friends and had great opportunities arise from startup events. Make sure to take advantage of what your community has to offer to grow yourself and your business.

 

About Eric Rosenberg

Eric is a finance blogger at Narrow Bridge Finance and a serial entrepreneur. He runs a media company, flash mob company, and DJ business from his hometown in Denver, Colorado. You can read more about his finance background and connect with him around the web.

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