As a startup with no prior connections, how would you suggest connecting with strategic partners?
As a start-up with no prior connections, what would you suggest is the best way to go about connecting with potential strategic partners? Especially those in well established businesses and organizations. Preferably not through LinkedIn, cold calling, or emailing.
Try networking events like 'Network After Work'. The events usually have a good mix of professionals from various fields and entrepreneurs. It takes a bit of time, but one good connection leads to many useful links. Good luck!
Nicole, you are welcome to connect with me to share more about your start-up business. First, congratulations on moving into the world of entrepreneurship, second go slowly and evaluate the guidance we all give you; evaluate it against your own feelings, aptitude and desires.
Strategic partners should have similar end-user goals that you have, and should view your business as complementary to yours.
There's a great deal more I could tell you, but it would be best to know much more about your initiative first.
Making strategic connections will not start until you have immerse yourself in their particular business community. Immersing one's self will take effort, being flexible but mostly it will take time. You will need to have your pitch ready and be prepared to demonstrate not only verbally but through your action in their respective community, as to why you make a good ally.
There is no free ride LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Delicious, Plurk, Pearltrees, and new social network iGrow Network, even Imfaceplate, and even here. Create you social profile, and click like/share/comment on likeminded post. I am not saying advertise or talk about you business sister. Just look at this picture search engines that see that you are on the social media platforms and also see activity start creating links that are shared on search engines. People online on those social sites also have appreciation and want to discover who you are doing a like/comment/share and read your profile. There is always free advertising your face when you like/comment/share it also shows you are not another company that reinvented "Ice cubes" but have to spam my inbox or post about your business. Become involved in people in social media they become involved with you. This is just one secret to becoming seen and heard. Also forums that contain the same discussions on your startup business. Again the same thing just make sure to like/comment/share. Nothing is more powerful then your profile all over the internet!
Hi nicole, I have a business my self called Add Bizz Smart Consulting and as I have told my clients...Most people is scared of launching a business idea (Startup) because of the entrepreneur does not have the money to make the business happen, nor the contacts.
Believe me, Networking events such as (Startup weekend http://startupweekend.org/ ) or any other place organized for networking it will help you a lot. To Build your contact list and in that conact list you will always find some one that will be interested in investing in your start up idea.
I recommend to find the places where these potential strategic partners meet, go there and just introduce yourself. Some organize the so called "connect-hubs" where people meet and present their businesses. This way your potential business partner or client meets you face to face and understand not only the business, but also the person. It is also true that this implies bigger effort and longer time to implement.
If you want to connect with partners either to help grow your business, or potential customers, you have to network and that does mean using resources like mosaic, LinkedIn, etc., and it does mean cold calling or emailing. If you can get a referral, that's preferred, but if you really want to get in touch with someone you have to ask them directly. You would be surprised how many people, even ones who are well-known, will respond to a heartfelt request for help. In fact, I started a consulting business with the specific goal of helping people get started.
Building Industry networks can be one of the most important ways to develop and grow your business. As @EdDrozda puts it, "strategic partnerships are a great way to grow a business and though they are not financial partners, building relationships is the key to success here." - This should be an ongoing exercise as it allows you to learn more about the movers and shakers, the market sector, models and emerging trends.
Here's my take on the subject. Everyone I meet is a potential "strategic" partner, competitor, investor, colleague or even a hirer. You don't have to curate partners from those networks, however, I feel you'll be limiting your opportunities to connect with and curate more well established "strategic" partners.
For instance, a LinkedIn (business or personal) profile validates you and what you do - needless to say, most professionals in all industries use this as a platform to check out other professionals and verify what they do - as well as reach out to you if they find your offering or expertise will benefit them.
One thing to note though, if you're intending on selling directly to schools, especially in the UK, most heads are not business orientated and many of the decision "gatekeepers" makers do not have experience in business and therefore do not understand how to interact with businesses. This is why they have a centralised unit that makes all the "business" decisions.
As someone involved in the education sector and a business mentor, I have first hand experience of this and I can assure you, emails and cold calling doesn't work.
In summary, the following points should help you determine the types of "strategic" networks that will benefit your business and vise-versa. Find out who and where they meet, congregate, network and develop a strategy to approaching them. Remember, one size doesn't fit all.
What problems will your business offering solve - value proposition?
What is your business offering - products or services?
Who is the target market - users?
Who is the purchaser or buyer - who is paying?
How do you intend to get it to them - platform?
Hope this helps as a starting point. Feel free to connect if I can be of further help.
Nicole: I would identify leaders in your target market. Based on your description of your company, "The Student Textbook and Tools Trading Site", I surmise this is the education market. While I don't know much about this in the UK, here in the USA, BlackBoard is a company that engages across all education age categories from K-12 through collegiate educations. They are one company I would put on your target list. I am not sure why you prefer NOT to use LinkedIn, most business development professionals use this tool to engage and prospect and these are the professionals with whom you will need to establish strategic partnerships.
Best of luck.
Nicole, since you are in London and I will try to target my suggestions. First you need to be fully prepared to speak to someone you are looking to be a strategic partner. Vet your presentation and request. Know your market and have your numbers ready. Then Network. Go to alumni who may be able to help you to get the kind of partner you want or get you to someone who might be able to help you. Attend entrepenuer meetings or conferences. I think MIT holds meetings for its alumni in the UK and it is open to entrepeneurs for some meetings. IF you can't find a strategic partner by networking, then identify a potential strategic partner, then identify who in that organization you want to contact and call him/her. It is not as good as getting an introduction, but if you time it right and are prepared, then it may work. Do not waste anyone's time, do n ot over stay the meeting asking for too much or trying to oversell your business.