Ahead of the marie claire x Tech Ready Women start-up masterclass, Blaise McCann shares her top five networking tips.
1. KNOW THAT YOUR NETWORK IS YOUR NET WORTH
When launching a business, the most powerful thing you have is your network; don’t ever undervalue who you know. I had little idea what I was doing when I started my plus-size fashion business, Hear Us Roar. I often talked to my friends and family about all the problems I was facing. When something was outside the scope of my direct network, magic happened; someone would always know someone who could help me. I’ve had thousands of dollars’ worth of free advice because I simply reached out to my network.
2. ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS
Most people are deathly afraid of asking for help or guidance, but business is essentially about finding solutions to other people’s problems. My theory is that if you don’t ask the question, you’re automatically receiving a no. If you ask and don’t get the answer you wanted, you’ve still got more info than you had before.
3. BUILD LASTING CONNECTIONS
There’s no expiry date on a connection. I once had a guy message me two months after I pitched my idea to him saying he would love to help me out. So reach out, even if it’s been a while. Remind them where you met. Often you’ll meet the right people at the wrong time, but it’s never too late to reconnect. When somebody cares about you and your passion, they’ll find time for you. It might not be right away, but they will make time.
4. JOIN A GANG
When I felt like I’d exhausted my own network, I knew I needed to expand my reach. I joined the Tech Ready Women (TRW) program to leverage connections to further develop my business acumen and get answers to the questions whirling around in my head. The program helped connect me to the right people. The most profound moment was when an investor decided not to invest for personal reasons. I wanted to quit, but Christie [Whitehill], the founder of TRW, found me a fashion tech guru who sat down and breathed life back into me. I will never forget that moment – it was so significant in the business’ journey.
Hot tip: If you're looking for business advice, don't add someone on Facebook. Try LinkedIn or Twitter.
5. PICK UP THE PHONE
If your extended network can’t help you, you’ll need to unleash your inner hustler. Suck it up and be humble in your approach. Reach out to people you don’t know via LinkedIn, Facebook business groups and networking events. Do your research and make sure you have a clear idea about why you’re reaching out. Time is one of an entrepreneur’s most valuable assets so don’t waste it when someone offers it to you. People love to help those starting out – it’s encouraged in the start-up world. Make the most of it.
Find your own tribe at the marie claire x Tech Ready Women start-up masterclass on May 25 and 26. Click here to purchase your tickets!