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10 Networking Strategies for Innovators Who Want to Reach the Best of the Best

Building genuine connections isn’t just about swapping business cards or cold-emailing strangers.

Photos courtesy of the members.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

As an innovator, you’re probably looking to rise to the top of your chosen industry. Networking with other top industry leaders is one strategy that can help you get there.

The potential for new business opportunities from having a strong network is practically limitless; however, the days of handing out business cards are over. To shed some light on how the pros do it, 10 Rolling Stone Culture Council leaders share their best networking tips for how to build better relationships and connect with the cream of the crop.

Ask Lots of Questions

Be genuinely curious and ask lots of questions. If you approach networking with the idea that you need to get something out of somebody, it will be immediately transparent. – Phil Barry, Blokur

Be a ‘Teachable Spirit’

In order to network with the best of the best (regardless of industry), you have to have a teachable spirit. Be open to new ideas and new experiences and those organic connections will present themselves. – Courtney Caldwell, ShearShare, Inc.

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Broadcast Your Work

As connected as we are in the internet age, it’s also hard to find your peers in the haystack. For us, the more we broadcast our work, the more we find those like-minded people whom we aspire to connect with. Use your platforms to give your followers something with substance they can learn from and you’re much more likely to find the right collaborators. – Danny Fuentes, Lethal Amounts

Use Proximity to Make Natural Connections

My advice is to attend events, reach out to connect over coffee and work in the space (even if it is as a studio assistant or a production assistant at a venue) so that natural connections happen. It’s also not bad to maybe obtain a membership to a membership house. They can be pricey, but proximity and access can go a long way and it should be looked at as a business investment. – Nicole Plantin

Apply the 80/20 Rule

Have a true, breathing network that produces actions that lead to mutually beneficial results. It’s great to have a large follower count on your various social platforms, but it’s also important to engage. It may be time to apply the 80/20 rule to your network and really get to know the remainder. It will be like discovering an “acre of diamonds.” You also have to create new partnerships that live. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com

Join Industry Communities

I’m part of communities like Summit, eCommerceFuel, Arcview and more. All of these groups’ cost of entrance is earned back 10 times by the returns I get from the connections and business we can achieve together. – Codie Sanchez, Contrarian Thinking

Do Your Research and Be Bold

Find all the innovators in your field, which is easier today than ever before with the internet as a resource. Once you have found and identified the ones you want, be bold. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Phone numbers and email addresses are so easy to find these days. Go to a seminar the person is at and approach them. Be relentless! – Domenic Rom, Goldcrest

Host a Compelling Event

Joanna Griffiths, founder and CEO of Knix, invited me and other female founders who are mothers to dinner last year to celebrate the opening of The Life After Birth Project, an exhibit created by Knix and Carriage House Birth. It was a wonderful event that brought female founders together to appreciate and bond over the birthing experience and motherhood. – Melissa Shin Mash, Dagne Dover

Look for Authentic Reasons to Connect

We all know how it feels when we get a barrage of cold reach-outs featuring thinly veiled attempts at finding a common interest. Rather than seeking a high volume of connections, you’re better off developing real relationships with people who have a genuine interest in you (and vice versa!). Those are the relationships that pay off in the long run. – Dan Giuliani, Volt Athletics

Form Real Connections With a Few Select People

I think the best way to connect with people is to form real personal connections. Knowing a lot of people is worthless unless you can message them and expect a reply. Rather than seeking to get to know everyone at an event, pick one or two people who truly interest you. Strike up a conversation. Make sure it’s a mutual connection. Follow them on social media to keep up. – Catalina Girald, Naja

In This Article: Network


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