As you’re poker player, you’re probably used to sitting hours in front of your computer screen staring at numbers and cards. It takes a certain kind of introverted personality to be able to endure that.
Even if you’re a very social guy online, chatting up all the poker players in the Skype group chats. Starting conversations with “real” people is a different challenge.
As a starting entrepreneur you can never know enough people. Your inner circle might already be dried up, as it’s a great idea to involve friends in your business. Read here 3 reasons why this is a good idea. So you might want to “get out there”, meet new people and make new connections. Even if that makes you feel uncomfortable your first few tries. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone with the following list and start to grow your personal network.
Grow your network with these 5 tricks
- Join a startup accelerator
There are plenty of startup accelerators out there. Over the last 10 years the accelerator programs popped out of the ground like mushrooms. Some general programs, while others take a more vertical approach into certain industries like fintech, ecommerce, IoT, healthcare.
Check which one is the most relevant for your business. If you’re passed the stage of acceleration, you can offer to become a mentor (like I did) or give a talk about your entrepreneurial story, your biggest mistakes or your experience as an entrepreneur. Don’t forget to connect with the attendees afterwards.
Don’t hide that you were a poker player before. Say it with pride! I’ve noticed that in business, people respect professional poker more than in other fields. I have a hunch that entrepreneurs can relate to the struggles of stress, bankroll management and optimizing performance more than others.
- Enter a startup competition
I’d argue that joining startup competitions is a waste of time, but it can never hurt to practice a pitch. After all, practice makes perfect, which each pitch you will learn something.
Additionally, it can open your network to new connections; fellow participants do not have to be your rivals in the business world. They can make great partners if you add them to your personal network, as you’re both in the same boat. Try to connect to the jury of events, they might be helpful in the future outside of the competition itself. Startup competitions can be good, but balance your time between applying for them and actually managing your business well.
Don’t underestimate pitching, it’s an important skill to develop. Whether you’re doing presentations, pitching investors or even pitching sales. You’ll need to develop this skill if you’re running a business, so might as well throw yourself into the deep water and start doing it!
- Work from a co-working space
Usually you will find entrepreneurial and like-minded people that are gathered in a co-working space. Don’t hesitate to take a walk around the building and introduce yourself or genuinely ask what their business is about. People will definitely appreciate that and take the time to explain.
Also, next time they need something or come across something that’s related to your business, they’ll surely think of you. Growing your network doesn’t mean you have to be close with everyone. You just need people to know who you are and what you can offer.
A few platforms that help you find a co-working space near you: workfrom.co, coworkingnomads.com, deskbookers.com.
I’ve worked from co-working spaces around the world and there is a lot of variance in the quality and people that are there. My last co-working space in Rotterdam (42Workspace) is focussed on tech startups. Exactly the type of entrepreneurs I want to be in touch with, so it was the perfect location to run my business from. So do some due diligence before going there. Or try it out with a day-pass so you can scout the talent that is there.
- Cold outreach
If you’re not much of a socializer or networker, you can always take the online route.
Don’t be afraid to do cold outreach to people who might have something of value for you or people that you can offer something. If you’re in poker related Skype groups you can start one on one conversations with members in the group and start to grow your online network.
A good medium for this can be LinkedIn. Want to know more about how to write a cold message that will get a reply instantly? Get in touch: www.rocketfuelcollective.com/contact.
- Join relevant social media groups
Whether you’re working from home, from an office or remotely, social media groups are always a great source for getting to know like-minded people. Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups are both a good start to grow your online network. Make sure you join the groups relevant to you or your business. And don’t be afraid to attend a social event if the group organises something!
Do you have a poker network?
Your network in the poker community is very valuable if you’re planning to start a business. Usually they are high net-worth individuals, willing to place a bet. This can come in handy if you’re getting ready to fundraise or if you have your eye on a profitable investment. A few of my poker friends invested in my startup plans.
But money isn’t the only reason why your network of poker players is valuable. They are usually analytical people, not scared to voice their opinion if they believe a strategy is bad. Make use of this by discussing your ideas and business plans with your poker peers. You’ll receive valuable feedback and potential new ideas to grow your business faster. I always discuss my plans with my poker buddies and it has helped me greatly on my journey.
It may sound cheesy, but your network is your net-worth and who you know matters. So start connecting!