Pro networking: why generosity is paramount for startups

Written by Belle Beth Cooper on July 2, 2012

Author and blogger Jeff Goins recently wrote something that really resonated with us as startup people.

…anonymity is a writer’s greatest enemy. And the best way to beat it is through generosity.

Jeff Goins

I think we can agree that anonymity is an enemy for startups as well. And networking is one way to climb out of this pit of loneliness. But how can you make networking work for you?

I think generosity is the key. Imagine you’re an average startup:

You’re strapped for cash.

You’re short on time.

You have a small team and a small amount of resources to drawn on.

You’re drowning in a sea of startups, all looking for investors and users.

You need to be heard above the noise. You need to get your product noticed. You need people to start talking about you. And you know that sending standard press releases or cold-calling probably won’t hit the spot.

So what can you do?

You can beat anonymity with generosity.

You know that old saying about paying your dues and giving back when you’ve ‘made it’? Flip that on its head – start giving back now. Being generous doesn’t just mean forking over a cash donation when you’ve hit it big.

Robert Scoble shared this pitch from Flipboard a couple of years ago, mentioning that standard press releases rarely snag his interest. In this pitch, Marci focuses on Scoble’s interests and activities, showing that the company is doing its homework and paying attention to him.

Giving someone your attention is generous.

The recent increase of services like Dabble, Skillshare and Laneway Learning have opened up new opportunities for teaching and learning outside standard school systems. These sites let you sign up to teach (or attend) a low-cost, informal class on a topic you know well. If you teach on a subject related to your startup, you’re going to become known in that area by sharing your knowledge.

Giving someone your time is generous.

New York Nightowls is a co-working group in New York City started by Allan Grinshtein and Amber Rae for those who prefer working into the wee hours. The meetups are free to join and make use of a shared working space that is donated to them for free. The group shares knowledge and ideas and comes together to get things done.

Giving someone your resources is generous.

Moral of the story? If you want to build your network and make connections that will help your startup grow, be generous.

Do your homework. Be interested. Give whatever you can to whoever will benefit from it.

How has generosity helped your startup? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Image credit: asenat29

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About the Author

Belle Beth Cooper

Belle has spent the past four years as a freelance writer and social media consultant. She has written for The Next Web, Desktop Magazine and Social Media Examiner. Belle now spends her days wielding a pencil as Attendly's Head of Content.

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