From peer to peer: Seeking advice from other entrepreneurs (part 2)

In our last blog post, we noted that start-up founders often need to rely on soliciting advice from fellow entrepreneurs. When wading into uncharted territories for the first time, it’s important to be able to learn from the experience of those who have already tackled the same problems.

In part one of this two-part blog, we advised entrepreneurs to do the following when seeking advice from their peers:

  1. Respect their time: You know how busy you are; if you’re reaching out to a fellow entrepreneur, expect their day to be just as jam-packed.
  2. Be targeted and precise: Make sure that your request is clear right away. Don’t couch your questions in unnecessary hypotheticals and don’t tiptoe around a specific ask.
  3. Use social media: Whether to reconnect with someone in your network, or to find people who can help you, social media channels of all kinds are a great way to reach out to other entrepreneurs.

Those three simple steps will help elicit the best possible feedback from your network. Once you receive advice, it’s time to take action and return the favor. The next steps – which help nurture that connection – will help turn a one-off interaction into a fruitful relationship for both parties.

Listen to and act on feedback: If you ask a specific question about a product idea or strategic initiative, be prepared to heed the advice you receive. You may have an idea about what the answer might be, but if the answer you hear doesn’t align with what you had expected, it’s important to be open to new possibilities.

Reciprocate and provide value: One of the best ways to both start and follow-up on an interaction with an advisor is by offering them something that only you can provide. By offering to provide a service up front in exchange for advice, or offering your own unique insight, it provides not only an incentive to answer your questions, but also serves as another implicit acknowledgement of how much you value their time and expertise.

Guidance from fellow entrepreneurs can be a powerful resource when questions need to be answered. Often times, your cohorts in the start-up community can be surprisingly forthcoming and provide insights that would be difficult to gain otherwise. They’ve been in your position before, have discovered solutions and know what it takes to move forward. However, those who hold this information know the value of their advice, as well as the value of their time. Don’t forget that they’re providing you with free advice that could impact your bottom line and the viability of your company. Maybe you have someone in your network who would be great to connect the entrepreneur with. Small favors go a long way toward creating a favorable perception, and you never know how valuable your own contributions could be to another party.

Taking advice, applying it and following up with a thank you or even news of positive results is the best way to ensure a positive and fruitful relationship with that entrepreneur going forward. You never know when they’ll be able to solve your next problem.

Are you an entrepreneur looking to make your voice heard? Be a guest on our tech podcast, The Bean Pod! Drop us a line at talktome@corporateink.com.