Business (and life) is about relationships. I live by that mantra.
When I started my startup journey, I discovered new faces and names everyday. Inspired by their stories, I wanted to meet and know all of them. And that was my biggest mistake. I sucked at nurturing these relationships because I was focused on knowing too many people.
As a youngster, what you really need is a network of mentors. Build a few relationships and nurture them. It is the quality of the people you know that matters, not the quantity.
How you develop these relationships depends on what type of people they are. I’ve decided to put people in two categories to make it simple.
The first type are “aspiring ballers” that you will bump into and hit it off quickly. Maybe your mindset is the same as theirs or you are in the same stage of the career as them. Nurturing these relationships will probably happen naturally. You will hang out with them, talk with them on gchat/fb etc. These types of relationships will last a lifetime as you grow together.
The second type of people are the “ballers”. They might have successfully started a few companies or kicked butt as a leader at a successful company. It’s someone you look up to. For example, I want to learn about marketing and starting companies. Anyone who has been a marketer for 5+ years or founded a company is someone that falls into this category. The goal of these relationships is to gain advice and direction based on their senior experience. Ballers don’t have much time to hang out so the best way to cultivate these relationships is send email updates or reach out for advice every few weeks. Twitter is another great way to stay engaged more frequently without being overly demanding of their time.
I’m not against knowing a lot of people. What I am against is meeting a lot of people just to increase the number of LinkedIn connections.
There are endless reasons for having a network of quality folks. To list a few: geting advice, jobs, investments, intros to other folks etc. Most importantly some of these relationships will turn into friendships and that beats everything else. Just remember to reciprocate and always give back.