The typical?American knows on average?600 people.
But if you add up all your connections on LinkedIn, friends on Facebook and everyone else you?ve talked to over the past few years, the number is probably much larger. Yet, if you?re like most entrepreneurs, you underestimate the power of your existing network when launching a new venture.
When a friend who owned a beauty salon decided to transition into a new industry, she automatically sought out new connections to get her venture off the ground. What she didn?t realize was that her existing contact database contained 3,000 potential customers and backers. She just needed to reintroduce herself to them in the context of her new business.
Reconnecting with people you already know gives you access to a huge untapped network of people you haven?t met. Even if no one in your existing network becomes a customer or can give you the help you need, they might know someone who can.?
Your existing network is the best place to start when launching a new venture because it requires little effort to engage with those contacts. They?re familiar with your backstory. And as long as you?ve established a positive relationship, they already like and trust you.
Steer clear of close friends and family members, but former colleagues, business partners, clients and mentors would likely be happy to be involved.
Here are six strategies to help you re-engage with your connections:
1. Organize your network.
When your kitchen counter is cluttered, you literally can?t see the mug you?re looking for even if it?s right in front of you. But when you clear the dishes away and pluck out your bills from amid?the junk mail, the cup?suddenly appears.
Similarly, it?s necessary to organize your network listings to see what you?re looking for. You can divide your LinkedIn contacts into groups, such as customers, mentors, colleagues and suppliers. Often, a name will jump out at you, and you?ll come up with a bright idea simply by organizing the list of contacts in your life.?
2.?Know that mentorship comes before money.
Before you ask for funds or a referral, ask in a genuine fashion for guidance or opinions. If the people in your network get to know your product first out of curiosity, they?ll be more likely to give you funds, send you referrals or become a customer.
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