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How to Grow a Startup Community in Your Own Backyard

College Treps

Editor's Note: College Treps is a weekly column that puts the spotlight on college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs, as they tackle the tough task of starting up and going to school. Follow their daily struggles and this column on Twitter with the hashtag #CollegeTreps.

How to Grow a Startup Community in Your Own Backyard

Have some downtime this summer? Head to your nearest startup event or simply launch your own.

If you need further confirmation of the power of a strong network, just look at Silicon Valley. The main reason that this region is so successful is the density of entrepreneurs, engineers, investors and the network of supporting personnel living in one small geographic area and giving back to the startup community. It is the people, after all, who make the startup community great.

To foster this continuum, it is our responsibility as entrepreneurs to ensure we are doing our part. Here are three tips on how to grow the start up community in your town:

1. Start a meetup group.
After attending dozens of startup events around San Diego, I was really impressed with everyone in the community. However something was lacking, there was no designated group for young entrepreneurs. Drawing from my recent experience in New York City, I was able to attend a young entrepreneur meetup called "Ballers." I learned more from other young entrepreneurs at that one event than any other startup event I had ever attended. I was inspired.

Related: Don't Waste Another Networking Opportunity: 6 Tips for Following Up

I was convinced that I had to do something to contribute to the San Diego startup community. This led to the creation San Diego Young Entrepreneur Network meetup group, which I founded the day I returned from my trip.

2. Build relationships, not a rolodex.
Beyond a thriving company, the most important thing an entrepreneur can build is the relationships that help him or her succeed. Doing so is key, as entrepreneurs need to count on and trust people to get the job done. Building these relationships takes time and effort, however.

Related: 7 Steps for Planning a Kick-Ass Networking Event

But don't just collect business cards. Rather, you should network with the goal of meeting one or two people you want to follow up with. From my experience, I have continued to follow up with people I met a year ago at several networking events, and those relationships have blossomed into great friendships. This is how I met an aerospace engineer on Richard Branson’s space program, which always makes for a great conversation.

3. Do something you're passionate about and share it.
As entrepreneurs, we love to talk to people who are passionate about what they do. Passion is what drives us and keeps us sane. However there is more to life than just work, this is why you need to find a hobby or anything aside from work that you love to do.

Related: Feeling Productive? 3 Ways to Get Even More Done 

For me, I am passionate about kiteboarding, and I love teaching people how to kiteboard. There is nothing like seeing someone you have taught get up on the kiteboard for the first time. In simple terms, they are stoked. More importantly, though, when I offer a potential mentor, investor or client the opportunity to learn to kiteboard, it provides an opportunity to get to know them better and build that relationship.

How has networking this summer helped you? Let us know with a comment.

*Apply Now** Are you an enthusiastic college- or graduate-student entrepreneur, eager to share your on-campus experiences? Apply to be a YoungEntrepreneur.com College Treps columnist.

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Will Caldwell is currently a senior majoring in accounting at the University of San Diego. He's the founder of Rivolix, a mobile real-estate tech company focused on property management, MLS/IDX integration and residential realtors.

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