Here’s how the right networking can help grow your startup
“Entrepreneurship is about creating opportunities where there are none. Networking allows an entrepreneur to explore the uncharted path,” says Vineet ToshniwalFounder and CEO of.
If one were to list the essential skills that a successful entrepreneur must have, networking would definitely be among the top five.
Essentially, networking is the process of interacting with people in order to make social contacts, exchange information, or develop a professional relationship.
Social gatherings, such as a startup community meetup or a formal dinner, provide aspiring and established entrepreneurs with networking opportunities that can be leveraged to meet a potential investor, future employee, potential partner, and even future brand employees.
“Building long-term relationships is probably one of the most important things a founder can do for themselves and their business,” says Akshay ChaturvediFounder and CEO of. These relationships can be established with seasoned entrepreneurs, peers, industry and sub-sector experts, users, etc.
However, networking is not easy for everyone. Breaking the ice and striking up a conversation with a stranger can make a lot of people sweat. To ultimately be good at networking, you have to be patient, persistent and confident. With that in mind, Entrepreneurship 101 spoke to startup founders on how to network successfully.
Why is networking so important?
From a business perspective, each interaction with a stakeholder opens the possibility for entrepreneurs to connect later regarding possible partnerships, collaborations, and even investments and sales. Networking with mentors and peers helps tap into a pool of ideas where they can not only develop new products and services, but also collaborate with existing ones, believes Vineet.
Akshay says his entrepreneurial journey so far is entirely based on the relationships he has cultivated at different stages of his life. More than half of Leverage Edu’s leadership team are early friends of Akshay. “Chemistry helps us be both transparent and intense with each other without ego,” he adds.
In fact, almost all of the external funds Leverage Edu has raised so far are the result of long-term relationships.
“In my first round of angels, I had three teachers, four ISB alumni, all my [former]bosses and half a dozen friends… My first round of VC, led by Blume (Ventures) and DSG (Ventures), had me meet Karthik Reddy because of my ex-boss Vir Kashyap, and Deepak Shahdadpuri because by Vishal Gondal. In fact, the fruits of our Series B round, led by Kaizenvest Private Equity, were deposited when I met Sandeep Aneja at a casual breakfast in Singapore over three years ago,” Akshay reveals.
In the same way, Smit Kant Raturico-founder of ValetEZ, found partners for his first venture among former colleagues, and his current co-founder Prashant Chandrasekaran was also his teammate at Oxford.
Pranav Bajaj, co-founder of Medulance, says, “Networking exposes young minds to new schools of thought, new ideologies, asking them new questions.” He adds that networking has helped him meet mentors, advisors, customers, suppliers and “lifelong friends”.
Plus, he reveals how he met the co-founder of one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies and stayed in touch with him throughout Medulance’s growth. “We were able to test a new product with his organization,” he adds, which has become Medulance’s flagship product with a subscriber base of over 10 million employees in over 60 organizations.
The best platform for networking?
The pandemic has led to an increase in the number of WhatsApp groups for players in the startup community. Akshay himself is part of several WhatsApp groups run by senior founders and VCs. Besides WhatsApp, portals like LinkedIn provide an excellent virtual networking experience. In fact, with over 690 million members on its platform, 80% of all B2B leads come from the professional networking platform. Likewise, starter programs provide a good platform for networking. Companies like Omidyar Capital, Village Capital and NSRCEL (IIM B) have already helped many entrepreneurs connect with others in the ecosystem.
Secondly, networking conferences and dinners provide a good platform to meet the inaccessible others in the startup ecosystem. In the same way, startup reward functions are a great way to not only appreciate and recognize those who succeed, but also to connect to discover the impact of their products and services. Additionally, reward features allow entrepreneurs, investors, and other ecosystem stakeholders to share their vision for the future.
The third and most important is just give a hand. Entrepreneurs must be persistent and never hesitate to ask for help when needed. Akshay is proud to be the first to reach out to anyone he can learn from. He reveals that he is very persistent, “Sometimes following for years.”
This habit led him to connect with Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Kunal Shah, Amrish Rau, Haresh Chawla, Rajesh Agarwal, and more.
Finally, Pranav says, “Networking can start at home and not necessarily outside.
Entrepreneurs should surround yourself with good people—people who will provide the right kind of lessons and constructive criticism. “That also includes the team you work with. Hire people who are motivated and have the right vision that will complement your ideologies,” he adds.
“Businesses may be temporary, but a good network stays forever and can be useful throughout any entrepreneur’s life,” says Pranav.
He suggests that regardless of the platform, whether it’s a virtual or physical networking opportunity, startup founders should focus on building a strong connection so you can feel free. to reach out when needed.
Vineet advises aspiring entrepreneurs to dedicate at least an hour a day to getting online and reaching out to relevant contacts.