When you’re in a nine-to-five salaried job, you are forced into relationships. You have to deal with people whether you like it or not. You still have to build relationships, but the common work product and trust of the same company already exist making it easier to connect with other co-workers.
In entrepreneurship, relationships are optional. If you don’t like someone, don’t deal with them. It goes the other way as well.
You have to actively build new relationships and then you have to earn the respect of other entrepreneurs. It’s never given.
Here are seven ways to do that:
1. Show the community you’re serious about entrepreneurship.
Do you want more street cred? Show your face to community events and introduce yourself. I know entrepreneurship is hard enough, but you’ll need as much help from the community as possible.
The more you’re seen attending, speaking and giving back to the community, the easier it will be to build better relationships.
Your name is everything in a community. Guard it with your life.
Consistency is the quickest way to building awareness of you.
2. Coffee. Lots of coffee (and not just for you).
You’re talking to the guy that takes 250 coffee meetings every year. Coffee meetings are how I build new relationships and connect with existing connections.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to others more successful than you. That’s how it works. The “successful” entrepreneurs also want to continue to grow. They need more help than you think they do.
If you send out ten emails, you can easily get two coffee meetings out of that. That’s a huge win.
And yes, you buy their coffee.
3. Be respected. One failed business relationship can ruin everything.
The easiest way to ruin many relationships all at once is to have a bad business deal with someone in the community. I have seen first hand how one bad business relationship spread and multiple people became blackballed in the entrepreneur community.
You become a flight risk once the word gets out that you’re capable of being a bad business partner or a non-truthful founder.
4. Build something worth talking about.
The quickest way to build respect in a community is to create something that others respect. Think of how many times you’ve met someone new and they said that they were the CEO of a company you admire.
I bet you were surprised and showed them respect for the work that they’ve done. Even if you’re building something that isn’t known nationally, you’ll be surprised how small a community of a big city is.
Work hard to be respected.
5. Invest a lot of time.
There is no replacing time. Time If you do all of the above, your relationships will get better over time. There are ways to build relationships in a short time, but for the most part, relationships take time.
The more you show up, give back and keep growing your career and business, the stronger the relationships become.
You don’t need to go for the kill every time. Focus on being genuine and authentic in your relationships.
6. Build a personal brand online.
What if I told you there were tools on the internet that allowed you to connect with friends and colleagues? And on these tools, you can say whatever you want. So, you don’t need to go to a million networking events to keep up with all of your contacts.
The tools are called Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There is no better way to build your personal brand than to do be active on social media.
Use tools like Medium and LinkedIn Publisher to write your thoughts. You have no excuses.
If you’re a writer, great. If you’re not a writer, hire one.
7. Give back through mentorship.
The biggest misconception that as a new entrepreneur you have nothing to give back to the community. I think that’s the farthest from the truth.
Some of the best entrepreneurs I know gave back as mentors early on in their careers.
Don’t hide your ideas because ideas have been proven to be worthless for a long time now. Give feedback on ideas and offer your connections to help other entrepreneurs grow.
I try to do this as much as I can.
In summary, entrepreneurship is hard. It’s an unknown world of failures and successes. Put yourself out there and build new relationships. We all need the help.