Do You Need Industry Contacts to Start Up a Successful New Business?

Networking. Some people love it, some people hate it. But everyone knows it’s essential if you’re setting up a new business. Or is it? Tell anyone that you’re setting up a business without any industry contacts, and they’ll raise their eyebrows at you. Wouldn’t it be better to get to know the industry first, they’ll ask? Shouldn’t you build up your network before diving in?

Industry contacts are important, we’re not going to lie to you. They can help you out a lot - showing you the ropes, letting you in on useful industry secrets, and introducing you to other helpful contacts.

However, you don’t need to have a full stable of contacts before you get started. In many ways, network-building is something that will happen naturally when you start putting yourself out there.

You can get your business off to a great start without an established network - and build up those useful contacts as you go. Here are some ideas that might help:

Co-working spaces

The best contacts are the ones that establish themselves organically. And there’s no better way to build up a relationship with someone than to see them every day. 

Co-working spaces are increasingly popular. They’re a great way for small businesses to keep premises costs down, and they’re also fantastic for network building.

If you can find a coworking space with other small businesses in your industry, you’re off to a great start. Make friends with the other people in your building. Share tips over lunch. Learn together, and support one another.

Of course, the pandemic has made co-working less viable than it used to be, but it’s definitely something you should consider as the world returns to normal.

Build your reputation with authoritative content

Content marketing is a fantastic way to establish yourself as an influential part of your industry. If you’re seen as an industry authority, people will come to you.

Obviously you can’t leap in on Day One and portray yourself as the ultimate expert on your industry. Even if you know a huge amount about your field, you can’t come out of nowhere and expect more established industry names to immediately respect your authority.

Instead, focus on building your reputation. Gain topical authority through clever SEO. Post content consistently to draw in an audience. Invite people to comment, and open up interesting discussions about industry topics. Reach out to other industry pages, to offer (and invite!) guest content.

Before you know it, you’ll have built a thriving community around your content - and you’ll be well on your way to the kind of reputation that draws useful contacts to you.

Think outside your industry

There’s a whole world of useful contacts out there - and not all of them are in your industry.

Remember, the most important thing for your business is your customers. Focusing on relationships with customers and clients is not just good for your bottom line, it could also help you to expand your network.

For a start, word of mouth is fantastic for network-building. The more people who talk about you in a positive way, the better your reputation will be, and the more chances you’ll get to make great contacts. If you’re popular with your customers, they’ll help you to reach the top of your game. 

Building customer relationships through things like social media, email marketing, and so on, will grow your online presence. That opens up opportunities to spread your content far and wide - potentially getting it in front of influential eyes.

Final thoughts

Is it really who you know, not what you know? Well, not really. They’re both vital for brand and network building.

In this modern age of social media and content marketing, you can use what you know to become part of the industry conversation. Putting interesting and authoritative content out there will bring interested parties to you. You can build your reputation and grow your network at the same time.

Putting yourself in industry spaces, and being open to new working relationships will also help you to grow an organic network in no time. Co-working spaces are a fantastic way to build up a network without even trying.

Of course, networking events and the like are always useful. Don’t neglect those! But also don’t think that you need a fully-fledged network from the start. You can build your network as you go. 

Don’t wait on a network of contacts before you start your business. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is one saying. “Build it and they will come” is another. Build your business, focus on your customers, put your content out there - and the network will come.