The strength of your professional network can make or break you in the early days of your startup. Trust me, I should know.
When we launched Unshackled Ventures, a firm focused on immigrant entrepreneurs, we started with a simple thesis: retain and attract the best entrepreneurs in the world. It was one part aspirational, two parts delusional. Why? Because neither of us had any venture background, nor had we ever led a company to a successful outcome.
Instead, we were two friends armed with an aspiration to make an impact. We were optimistic with an, at best, average network, which we set out to grow. So we did what we thought was best: surround ourselves with an ecosystem of influencers. After six months of relentless networking, we brought together nearly 80 investors, of which only 10 percent were known to us previously. This group was the most instrumental difference maker in the success of our firm.
Reflecting back on this process and recognizing we live in the renaissance age of entrepreneurship, hard work and intellect have become table stakes, but what creates the greatest advantage is the resources and network you are surrounded by. It was in this pursuit of this network that we saw a few things that worked.
Here are three ways to grow your network:
1. A cold email can be warming
Sending cold emails can be very daunting. In fact, data suggests, the likelihood of a cold email receiving a response is somewhere between 2 and 20 percent. How do you break through? It’s about timing and creating a reason for the receiver to believe in you. It should be empathetic, concise and actionable.