How to Network like a Pro, According to WeWork Labs Members Who are Expert Networkers

Networking is a necessary skill when you’re a startup founder. But if it doesn’t come naturally to you, there are still steps you can take to maximize your skills and get the connections you need to grow your business. We asked Labs members from around the world who were identified as master networkers by their Labs managers to share their best tips.

Give every introduction a chance

“Sometimes you won’t understand immediately how a certain connection will be able to help you, or you’ll think it’s not relevant. But that intro might lead to another intro that might eventually lead to a customer or business partner. You have to be patient and open minded. My Labs manager Michal wanted me to meet someone and at the time, I thought they were pretty far from what I was doing. I didn’t understand the connection but it turned out to be gold. This woman blew my mind with her story and achievements and she generated several connections for me. Two of there were actual customer leads. So if a third person sees a definite connection between you and someone else, and you don’t see the connection at first, you should still take the introduction.” - Nadav Bahat, cofounder of Urbanize and Labs member at WeWork Derech Ha'atzmaut, Haifa

Share stories instead of facts

“Always prepare some stories to share because people love stories. They don’t like feeling like you’re trying to sell to them. Stories make it more natural, so think about what you want to say, whether your stories relate to your product, the types of people you want to connect with, your startup’s message. It’s a nice way to be remembered because people will remember the story and connect it to you.” - Daniela Campos, cofounder and COO at TrustFeed and Labs member at WeWork T8, Frankfurt

Provide forwardable emails if you’re asking for introductions

“Send a little template. If you’re saying to someone, I know you know this person and I think they could help us with this specific problem, would you mind introducing us, include a short email explaining who you are, what you do, and why you want to connect. Then your connection can forward it to the person you want to be introduced to.” - Sergio Reyes, cofounder of 5roots and Labs member at WeWork Reforma 26, Mexico

Create a circle of people who can help you reach your networking goals

“Surround yourself with the right people. If I have an ask for somebody with a really strong network, I’m much more likely to find a really good connection for whatever it is I’m trying to solve for. I like to be around smart, interesting people and they tend to have better networks.” - David Olkovetsky, founder of Artisan Revere and Labs member at WeWork 175 Varick Street, New York

Talk to people who’ve talked to your networking targets at events

“Before I go to an event, I make a map of the companies that will be represented and identify my targets. Then at the event, I talk to one or more people who talked to my target to get feedback on that person so I can evaluate if it will be productive to speak with them or not.” - Francisco Ferreira, founder of 7GAS and Labs member at WeWork Nações Unidas 14261, São Paulo

Be strategic and systematic about how you network, but make it feel human

“You’re in a business and you’re growing your company so you need to be aware that networking is a highly important tool. But it shouldn’t feel systematic for the people you’re reaching out to. It should always feel natural. Remember that you’re talking to other humans, no matter which technology channel you’re using.” - Daniela Campos

Think beyond your geographic area

“WeWork Labs has a great community around the globe. For someone in Mexico City like me, there are a lot of great people in Silicon Valley who’ve built successful companies and could help me. I don’t only have to meet with mentors from Mexico. So ask your Labs manager to ask other Labs managers if they have mentors who could help you.” - Sergio Reyes

Organize your contacts

“Keep track of your network, especially if you’re on the business development side of the startup. I personally have a Google sheet with a table that tracks who I got to know, what company they’re from, and how I got to know them. And if a person generates a lead for me, I keep track of the status. It’s super useful to go back to the table before meeting with a contact because I can check how I got to them. It gives you a good picture of your networking situation.” - Nadav Bahat

Always look for a reason to follow up

“It’s nice to get a connection from a conversation but at the end, you need a reason to follow up with new contacts. Do research on people beforehand and ask smart questions while you’re speaking with them to figure out what you could follow up with them about.” - Daniela Campos

Don’t overlook chances to network with other Labs members

“Say hello to everyone, every day. If you open people up to talk to you because you’ve developed a rapport and connection with a person, it starts a relationship. Saying hello doesn’t cost you anything and it can start a conversation about what you’re working on.” - Fardi Mohamed, managing director of SYS Visual and Labs member at WeWork 70 Wilson Street, London

Have an exit strategy ready for less-than-helpful conversations

“When you’re at a networking event, it costs you time and effort. So you need to be really focused on what you want to get out of the event. Be prepared with an exit question for comment for conversations that aren’t helpful, like offering to connect the person you’re speaking with to someone else. Always be polite and friendly though, no matter if the conversation is not what you were expecting.” - Daniela Campos

Don’t be intimidated by title or experience

“Just reach out to people. It doesn’t matter if someone is really, really successful. If you send them a good message, there’s a high probability that they’ll answer.” - Sergio Reyes

Keep your LinkedIn profile updated

“If you haven’t sharpened your LinkedIn page, you should. Everybody is checking you out there before approaching you. Fill in all of the values, get the right picture. Your LinkedIn page is like your business card and you need to take care of it.” - Nadav Bahat

Don’t forget to get contact information

“This sounds basic and obvious, but when you close a conversation with someone, you always need to exchange contact information. Sometimes you can forget to do it in the moment and then later, when you want to contact them, you realize you don’t have it.” - Daniela Campos

Learn more about how to network.

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