Emmelie Stapel and Mariska van der Pluijm

Get Out There, Network, and Make it Happen

A fundamental part of being a startup founder is having a great network. However, knowing the right people to build and expand your network can be tricky. Mariska and Emmelie, in their roles working with Investor Relations and Business Development at Rockstart, know how difficult this can be. That’s why they are here to give some tips!

So you have this amazing business idea, maybe you even have a prototype and in some cases, people are already buying your product. However, now it’s time to really accelerate your company and look for clients and get investments. What do you do? You reach out to your network, but then you realize all your time has been put into building your business, but not into expanding your network. Panic arises… Where do you go?

Building a network with the right people can make or break your company. It is very important to keep this in mind at every stage of your company. Building contacts with investors and partners, for example, is a year-round activity, not just when you’re fundraising or looking for immediate clients. Spend time on this when you are not panicking about whether your company is going to make it until the end of the month. Think ahead, build that network! How do you do that? Here are three tips!

  1. Be genuinely interested, don’t be selfish!

Do not only think about yourself when building a network, also help others with the network you already have. Try to get to know the people in your network, be genuinely interested in who they are and what they do. This way you can add value for your connections, and in turn, they can hopefully add value for you too.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of community

When you’re attending an event and see the list of partners and investors, you immediately start looking for the people that can directly help you. Do you recognize this? Stop and think!

You might be surprised by what others can do for you. Maybe the people in the room are not immediately the right contacts for you in terms of a direct investment or partnership, but you never know who is in their network. If people like you and like your business idea, maybe they are willing to introduce you to people in their network who can help your company to the next level.

So don’t only focus on people that can ‘show you the money’. Spend time on building relationships with people and partners who can help you by introducing you to their network.

  1.  Spend time on following up (also when people help you)

Don’t take introductions for granted, follow up on them. If you don’t, the person making the intro will be more hesitant to make any more intros in the future. And the person you are being introduced to will feel that you aren’t interested in meeting. So make sure to follow up within a maximum of three days. Just a message saying ‘Nice to meet you!’ will already set the right tone.

So, see building your network as part of building your business. This network can create numerous opportunities for you, ranging from introducing you to potential clients, strategic partners or even actual investments. Get out there and make it happen!

Emmelie Stapel is responsible for Corporate Partner engagement and has enlightened the Rockstart team since 2015.

Mariska van der Pluijm is responsible for Investor Relations and has worked her magic in the Rockstart team since 2016.

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