Brandon Bruce is co-founder of Cirrus Insight, a bootstrapped software company in Knoxville, Tennessee that automatically keeps Salesforce CRM up to date for sales teams. It intelligently syncs emails and appointments from Microsoft Office 365 and Google for Work to matching leads, contacts, accounts, opportunities, and cases in Salesforce. Follow him @cirrusinsight.
Recently, YEC spoke with Brandon about his experiences networking and his advice for others aspiring to improve their own experience. His best advice is below.
Start by Adding Value
Do something of value for other entrepreneurs you want to meet. Share their LinkedIn posts. Retweet their announcements. Make an introduction to a prospective customer. Suggest an improvement to their website. Bonus: Mock up the re-design or send the code that will actually improve the website. Introduce them to a prospective hire. Send a relevant article about their industry and include your opinions and insights. Basically, don’t ask for anything. Instead, be generous with your time and ideas and it’ll boomerang right back to you.
Consider the Importance of All Connections
I once met a fellow entrepreneur when we were both judges for a business plan pitch competition. We both started SaaS companies so we met up for breakfast the following week to share stories. He made an introduction to his investors and within a few weeks, we had a buyout offer. We didn’t go through with the acquisition, but the casual networking connection ended up having a big impact on our ability to get in front of venture capitalists and private equity firms.
Step Up and Out of Your Comfort Zone
Host your own recurring coffee or happy hour. People will appreciate being invited and many will show up. Others won’t be able to make it, but they’ll still get in touch with you. It’s a small act of generosity that helps you to build a community.
Make a Memory
Give a gift. Gift giving is as old as introductions themselves. It’s always memorable. Just make sure to avoid obviously bad gifts (like sending a FedEx package to UPS headquarters).
Focus on Details
Calling somebody by the wrong name is a classic mistake, and can be easily avoided. On the one hand, it’s not a huge deal. For example, people call me by my last name all the time. But it’s not a great way to kick off a conversation or a relationship.