What Business Leaders Can Learn From Gamers About Networking

Build redundancy in your business network.

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By David Brown

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After more than 10 years mentoring over 1,200 startups that come through the doors of Techstars, you start to learn a lesson or two from companies that you can relate back to your business.

Related: Repair the 'Networking Disconnect' and Pursue Your Dream Job

Helping entrepreneurs succeed from anywhere in the world requires a serious rolodex of connections. But, what happens when you can't properly connect to a resource, or one of those critical resources goes dark?

Haste, a Techstars alumni company that builds custom network infrastructure so gamers don't experience lag during game play, wrote an informative blog post about optimizing your network for seamless game play. After reading, the company's tips for gamers had some crossover that would be useful for all business leaders looking to optimize their networking skills.

Upgrading your connection

When online gaming, you may experience lag due to bandwidth problems that cause a poor overall connection. Most of the time, this is due to having multiple devices tapping the network at the same time. The solution to this lag may start with upgrading your internet bandwidth.

Related: How to Network, for Those Who Hate to Network

So, how do you upgrade your connection with a networking contact?

In my experience, creating a mutually beneficial relationship is the most effective way to upgrade your status with someone you'd like to tap for your business. Most of the time, startups begin conversations asking for something -- maybe to set up a meeting, or to get feedback on their product. Instead, start the conversation by giving something back to them. Maybe it's a spot on an upcoming panel you're hosting, or even something as simple as providing insight on a project they're working on. If you're able to give first, and ask for help later, you will notice that these contact will free up their time to give back to you.

Upgrading your connection vehicle

With gaming, your connection may be rock solid but the vehicle, your router, that delivers that information is the reason for lag. Most gamers invest serious time and money in a router that can deliver the best connection results.

Related: 10 Powerful Business Networking Skills to Build Rapport Quickly

As an investor in startups, we receive hundreds of emails a day from startups looking to join Techstars network. While I personally respond to every email, sometimes it's not the best way to get in touch with everyone.

Some VCs like to be pitched via Twitter or LinkedIn. Maybe your requests aren't being answered because you're using the wrong method for connection. Research each contact thoroughly and talk with others that have worked with them. Learning the fastest and most effective way to get ahold of your network will save some serious headaches.

Wired connections

Everyone experiences issues with Wi-Fi and wireless connections, and most gamers find that a wired connection is the best way to ensure a solid connection. Tapping directly into the delivery source will ensure that your connection is solid.

Related: 13 Habits of Exceptionally Likable People

Lots of startups outside of the Bay Area look to the coasts for business connections. They see the big players in their industry, and try to make a connection from a distance, sometimes on a whim. Start by making connections in your backyard. Having a personal, face-to-face relationship with connections will build a stronger, more beneficial network for your business.

Building redundancy

Every internet connection is bound to go down at some point in time. When in the middle of an important objective, you may get dropped and need to start from scratch.

The same is true for any business connection. Today, you may have one VC on the hook to invest, and tomorrow he or she is gone for good. Never place all of your bets on one person, no matter how successful you've been in the past. Having backup connections for every aspect of your business, and continuing conversations with both the front-runner and backup, will allow you to jump any dropped connection hurdles in the future.

Related: 16 Tips for Becoming a Master Networker

Remember, it's just a game.

In the end, networking is a game of give and take. You will make some great connections, and you will make some bad ones. Remember that like you, many others are looking to plug into a network to better their business and grow their rolodex. Sometimes you need to take a step back, find some good networking cheats and start over. Building a network is a difficult task, but luckily there are many folks in startup ecosystems across the globe willing to help along the way. It's up to you to find the best method to get in front of them.

Related Video: The 4 Types of People You'll Meet When Networking

David Brown

Co-founder and Co-CEO, Techstars

Serial entrepreneur David Brown of Boulder, Colo., is a co-founder and co-CEO of Techstars. Previously he was a founder of Pinpoint Technologies, now part ofZoll Medical Corp.

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