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During the recent pandemic, many startups had to rethink their business models. In some cases, this meant refocusing on their core business and determining how well they served customer needs. In other cases, startups had to change their business models completely to succeed.
Now that the world is back to normal, I recommend that startups place a new urgency behind becoming more visible and keeping their momentum going. Methods to do so include attending or speaking at events, competing in startup competitions and establishing new customer or partner relationships. Taking advantage of such opportunities will help startups emerge stronger than ever before from the pandemic.
1. Target the right events
Around the world, I see event organizers switching from virtual events to hosting in-person events. I recommend that startups take advantage of this opportunity to increase their visibility. Startups can research which events are the most relevant based on event themes and the typical attendee profile. At technology and business events, attendees often include corporate executives, other startups, potential partners and customers and investors. Most events publish in-depth profiles of their attendees, so startups can study these ahead of time and determine which events are the best fit.
Before any event, take advantage of event websites and apps to see who is attending. This allows you to reach out to set up networking meetings ahead of time. Journalists often attend business and technology events, so there’s a good chance that startups can meet them and ideally set up press interviews.
2. Compete to promote your startup
I also recommend that startups consider competing in startup competitions to raise the visibility of the business and its founders. Even if you don’t win, you get to pitch your business, fine-tune your elevator pitch and network with attendees – including other competitors, judges, investors and journalists.
Typical opportunities include:
- Business plan competitions are offered by MBA programs, which offer startups with a connection to the school to present their business plans and compete to win.
- Pitch competitions are offered by leading technology events around the world, such as Collision, Web Summit, Startup Grind and The Next Web. Startups who compete typically take the stage to pitch their ideas in front of the event audience.
- Startup competitions allow startups to compete on a local, regional, national or international basis. At the Startup World Cup, for example, startups compete at 70+ regional competitions worldwide. The grand finale winner earns a $1 million investment prize.
3. Build new relationships
While virtual meetings have their place, there’s nothing like meeting in person to build genuine, long-term relationships. Forbes Insights reports that 85% of people reported building stronger, more meaningful business relationships with people they’ve met face-to-face. When I attend events and competitions, I often meet influential people from different walks of life that I would otherwise not meet. Startups should take advantage of such opportunities and either ask for introductions or just introduce themselves. My business relationships with partners, startups, portfolio companies and journalists started with a casual introduction and in-person meeting.
4. Publish thought leadership content
Another good way startups can increase their visibility is by publishing thought leadership content. I often advise startup founders to write about what they know – whether about new technologies, business trends or leadership advice. This allows the author to establish themselves as an expert in one or more topics. The press might notice such content, and it often opens the door to new business relationships.
Research shows that thought leadership works. In fact, 88 % of decision-makers surveyed by Edelman and LinkedIn think that thought leadership effectively improves their perceptions of an organization. Business-to-business decision-makers said that high-quality thought leadership strengthens a company’s reputation and positively impacts requests for proposal invitations, wins, pricing and cross-selling that occurs post-sale.
Writing thought leadership content can take different forms. The most straightforward method is to write an article on LinkedIn, populate social media or use a self-publishing channel. Experts can also submit their articles to local, regional or national publications that accept contributed content. Doing so will help a startup founder share his or her expertise without generating news, which is typically required to get press coverage. Thought leadership content goes beyond articles. On the technical side, startup founders — or other experts, including chief technology articles — can publish technical articles or research findings. On the creative side, entrepreneurs can create short-form videos that demonstrate their expertise while entertaining the audience.
5. Continue your momentum
Now that it’s possible to meet people in person and attend live events, I recommend that startups work hard to increase their visibility and maintain their business momentum. Don’t sit back and hope that business will come to you. Put yourself out there and take advantage of opportunities to attend events, network, compete and build new relationships. Each can help startups grow more quickly, enabling them to capitalize on their innovative ideas and ultimately make the world a better place.