How to build a wide and deep network of relationships as an entrepreneur?

Initially when you are looking to hire a person in your company, you will hire “from your network”. The challenge is to have a good network that’s diverse and varied to help you bring those critical “early believers” on board.

One of the most difficult hires for most developer / technical people is hiring that first sales person.

There are many types of sales people entrepreneurs can hire – you can make out the different types of sales people by their reviewing their resume first.

There are 3 types of sales people a startup needs initially and maybe a 4th type later when they get bigger.

Startup sales people are not responsible for revenue but for payroll, so you should hire someone with the mindset that they are doing something very important and not just “sales”.

The hustler will get you any deal and will focus on getting you in the door quickly to open opportunities.

The relationship sales person will open doors to the few, but you will need to supplement her with other technical and sales resources.

The process or consultative sales person is good when you have a clearly defined sales process you need to scale.

The account manager is great when you have to expand your footprint within your existing customers.

The four types of sales people are best segmented by the depth and breadth of their relationship building efforts.

Types of Sales People
Types of Sales People

In the chart above I have tried to segment them based on my experience of working with these kinds of sales people. I dont think it is perfect, but it gives you a framework to think.

This could be a framework you use for your personal entrepreneurial journey as well, as you build your own network.

The best entrepreneurs have a broad (wide) and deep network.

They use the network to hire, recruit customers and attract partners. You know these folks who can not only help you get to the 2-3 people you need to talk to quickly to validate something but also help you canvas the 20-30 folks you need to get feedback from.

Building such a network is hard and takes time. Most people have 3-5 good friends and colleagues who they hang out with often and maybe 10-20 folks they work with on and off. Others have 500+ LinkedIn connections, but wont know more than 5 of them very well.

To build a wide network you need to have the mindset to seek out new people each time you have a question or run into a challenge. That’s not normal behavior for most people.

To build a deep network you need to invest time with a few folks and really get to know them, not only by working together but also personally.

The best way I have found to build a deep network is to find projects that mutually benefit others based on common interests.

The best way to build a wide network is to find a way to help as many people as possible for any type of request.

All this takes time, which is why you have to prioritize your relationships. In the early stages of your entrepreneurial journey, depth of relationships beats breadth, so make sure that you have the 3-5 people who you can count on, and then look to build adjacent relationships to grow your network.

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2 thoughts on “How to build a wide and deep network of relationships as an entrepreneur?”

  1. This is awesome Mukund! I love your points about finding projects that mutually benefit others based on common interests, and helping as many people as possible. I have found that selfless giving in this way creates a wide and deep network of FRIENDS vs just transactional relationships.

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