I didn’t know why I needed to grow a network until it was almost too late.
I had done the work to bring The Side Hustle Journal from just an idea in my head to having physical samples in my hands. It was an awesome feeling. Now it was time to launch it on Kickstarter and see if anyone else thought it was a good idea also.
The first thing I did was start searching Google for keywords around my project, such as “side hustle” and then find contact information for the owners of the sites that related to my project. I then crafted a somewhat personal email (it was a template with two sections that I changed to make it seems specific to them) and sent them a cold email. The results weren’t the best but I did get some responses. I spent hours and hours sending cold those emails and I received a handful of responses that proved to be beneficial. In fact, I can attribute about 40% of my Kickstarter backers to cold emails that I sent.
The best results came when performing similar Google searches but adding a location qualifier on the end, such as “Atlanta”. I met up with 3 local people from cold emails. I used the same template as I did before, but I changed the opening sentence to point out that we both live in the same city. One of those 3 people ended up being a blogger with a substantial following and ended up driving around $2,000 to my Kickstarter project when they posted about it on Twitter. To be honest, I didn’t think people still used Twitter, I was wrong.
Every local person that I met up with was more than willing to help and they all turned out to be awesome people.
While I was going through this outreach process to help drive some attention to my project, I realized how I really didn’t have a network – or at least one I could leverage to help my side hustle. I had a network that would help if I needed moving some furniture, but not one that would help drive a few thousand people to my website. Both are important in life.
This made me do a few things to help develop meaningful business relationships:
I created a private Facebook group for side hustlers to learn, share, and grow together. It has grown into a global group of people posting and helping one another. Here is a location list of people that have posted so far. It’s been getting feedback from others in the community and seeing other people help complete strangers.
Set reminders on my phone to help remind me to reach out to certain people periodically. Obviously, I don’t set reminders for everyone, but if there are people that I want to cultivate a relationship with, then I schedule a time to send them a quick text, call, or email. There are several apps that I can help with this, just search “Text Message Scheduler” in your app store. You can pre-type the messages and it will notify you when it’s time to send it. All you have to do is open the app and hit send. This method helped me develop a relationship with a person from my day job (3rd party consultant) who has provided tremendous advice for my side hustle. People like to be remembered and thought about. There are not too many people sending random messages that are not asking for something in return.
Realize that mentors don’t always have to be people you meet up with or even know. If you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with then what if you spend a few hours a day listening to someone like Tim Ferriss’ podcast. I think you will start to adopt some of that person’s views and outlooks on life, which is exactly what would happen if you had a local mentor that you met up with. Anytime I am in my car, I’m listening to a podcast. Here are some of my favorites.
If you live in a city, take advantage of the local community. Do some searches on Google for local meet-ups and events. I met some solid contacts at the first local event I went to. I found this event by simply searching “Atlanta Startup Event“. If you don’t live in a big city then you need to be talking to people about your side hustle. You never know how knows who and all the side hustlers definitely do not all live in big cities. When you go to these events, you should go alone. If you bring a friend then you will likely stick by their side because it is more comfortable. This is NOT what you want. Get uncomfortable and go alone. When you get there, find the first person you see not actively engaged in a conversation and introduce yourself.