How to build startup relationships and why “super connectors” are crucial

When getting a startup off the ground it’s more often than not about relationships – forming and maintaining relationships with customers, investors, the media to name a few.

For an outsider to startups or someone without experience in their specific niche, this can be really challenging.

You’ll hear founders talk about “breaking through”, “locked doors” and “I’ll call you back answers”.

This is the invisible barrier that networks have that outsiders need to crack. Over a long enough time period, and with enough persistence, people can crack the network barrier.

But you should work smart, not hard.

You need to form a relationship with a super connector.

These are the people who are massively connected within a niche or sector. They are often older, the progression of time allows for a greater number of quality relationships to be formed.

But they can be young as well – it’s super niche dependent.

For instance, let’s say I have a health tech startup and I’m marketing my app at doctors. The issue is I’m a startup and IT guy, I literally know no one in the medical sector.

In this instance, the smartest way for me to break in is to leverage a super connector. Who can I connect with that knows doctors en masse? The first person that comes to mind is someone in the medical supply company. This person’s job is to have relationships with hundreds of doctors and their surgeries. They would likely know everyone in the space. Another example could be a professor at a medical school, they’ve trained all the doctors and would likely still be in touch with lots.

Once you’ve brainstormed some super connector people who you could leverage the grind begins. It’s more efficient to take lots of time finding super connectors over spending lots of time finding one doctor.

It’s relatively easy to punch your job title into Linkedin and see who comes up. Then you need to work hard to make contact. Once contacted they could be able to open hundred of doors for you.

Other great super connectors are industry groups like Fintech Australia. They know everyone in the space and all the investors as well. Connecting with them unlocks the power of that network.

The art of this is what to do or what to give in order to motivate this person. Preferably it’s just cash, it could be equity or it could be some mutually beneficial partnership.

Thomas Szmidel is a senior product strategist at Appster.

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