Choosing to Network

Several years ago my buddy and his co-founder joined a technology accelerator. If you don’t know, these accelerators are organizations that help equip and accelerate startups. In short, they help the good ones succeed faster and provide insight to the others.

My advice was counter-intuitive to my buddy. So much so that he didn’t take it. But here it was.

1. Spend half your time trying to make your startup successful.

2. Spend the other half networking with all the other startups, helping them be successful.

It sounds crazy, right? Because every startup founder knows that unless you spend 125% of your time on your startup, it will fail.

But here’s what I know: even if you put in 125% of your time into your startup, it still is likely to fail. That’s just math at work.

It takes a lot of hard work, skill and luck. And that luck doesn’t take your hard work into account.

The reason for that strategy though is because when one of those other companies does succeed, they’re going to need to hire. And guess who they’ll hire? People they already know.

The power of networking allows you to spread your risk as you invest across a lot of good ideas.

The idea sounded silly to my buddy who totally believed in his own startup. But it didn’t sound crazy to another friend. And today he works in a company that he met in a different accelerator.

Choosing to network isn’t just valuable for startups in accelerators. It’s also a valuable strategy inside the company you work in. Getting to know and be known outside of your team can help you discover opportunities that you would normally miss.

So, yes, focus. Yes, commit to your team and work hard with them. Yes, learn to communicate effectively with your supervisor.

But never skip networking as a strategy.