Currently, a record US$2.8 billion is being poured into space startup businesses, US$400 million more than last year, and more investment is expected in the coming years. Cash is flowing into the space startup sector at an unprecedented rate, according to a recent CNBC article.  In an era of global economic decline, the space sector is experiencing unseen growth and the sector is considered as the last frontier.  Today is an ideal time to form and strengthen networking with like-minded professionals, for entrepreneurs to create enduring partnerships and alliances within the space startup sector.  

Do you Fear It or Love It?

When you hear the term networking, what thoughts come to your mind?  Are your thoughts open, welcoming and calm with some level of excitement?  Or are your thoughts scripted, defensive, and guarded on high alert? For some, the term networking conjures up bad experiences and images.  A Forbes article titled, “Don’t Call It Networking: The Secret to Making Real Connections” stresses the importance of making meaningful connections.  It portrays the need for developing a sustainable and working relationship with potential business partners with the objective of creating an authentic atmosphere that promotes networking where both parties see and understand the value proposition each has to offer. Networking can strike fear, promote high levels of stress in the hearts of some professionals or entrepreneurs. Just the thought of meeting new people or attending a networking event can generate anxiety for some.

However, for other professionals or entrepreneurs, the term networking produces excitement – the excitement to meet new people, the thirst to learn about others and their businesses, the hunger to grow one’s business by the thrill of the chase, the chase to explore viable business opportunities, uncover new ventures, discover untapped markets and potential possibilities. And for those business professionals that are shy, networking can assist you to reduce if not eliminate the fear factor in meeting new people. Here is a helpful video that’s targeted for the shy professional, however, the tips provided can be used by all.

Regardless of one’s viewpoint or behavior, most professionals agree that networking is essential for one’s business and profession.

Business networking is a learned skill and it can be very dynamic with lots of moving components. It is essential that professionals or entrepreneurs develop this skill continuously, because each person and situation is different. It takes effort and practice to perfect one’s networking skills, regardless of whether one is an introvert or an extrovert. An article from The Balance, titled, “What is Business Networking and What Are the Benefits”, provides a detailed self-explanatory description about the six networking benefits.

  1. New Contacts and referrals
  2. Visibility
  3. Staying current
  4. Problem solving
  5. Sharing knowledge and experience
  6. Confidence and morale

Social media can be a great tool for business networking. The key word here is tool. The current social media applications are useful tools; however, they should not be used to replace the personal face-to-face business networking task. The following articles provide the statistics and the importance of face-to-face networking in a digital world.   

What happens after networking? The post-networking event is critical. Immediate follow-up and regular contact is key to staying connected and forming a tighter network connection. The TEDx video titled The Art of Active Networking, is an ideal tool to use as a best practice.

A Word from Networking Professionals:  

Four interviews were conducted with professionals from North America and Europe, in sectors such as automotive, consultancy, IT, logistics, e-commerce and financial service

1) David Slaughter, North America, General Motors North American Division

Question: What has been your 32 years of experience networking within the North American automobile manufacturing industry?

“Networking is conducted internally and externally of the organization, each department is equally responsible for networking.” 

2) YediydeYah Allen, North America, Global IT Consultant to Fortune 100 Companies  

Question: What do you like best about your networking experiences?

“Building a relationship based on trust and loyalty. I obtained referrals that exposed me to different industries within the medical, engineering, energy, pharmaceutical and other sectors.”

3) Gary Bristow, England, IT Head of Sales

Question: Who is responsible for networking?  

“In my view, the whole organisation has the responsibility. The leadership team will often have existing high levels of relationships that can be used. The sales department should be identifying potential opportunities as well. If you’re going to put the effort into networking, do it with the best tools you can, and there is no point putting the effort in if you don’t review and revise afterwards.”

4) Cian Ó Cuilleanáin, Ireland, Managing Director Baily Labs  

 Question: Are there differences in networking during space and non-space events?

“I think there’s a lot that is similar, but also plenty that are different. As with any professional event, I think it’s important to consider the specific goals that you’re looking to achieve by attending – i.e. business, learning, social, etc., and putting some time in beforehand to prepare if needed, so that you can get the most out of the event itself.”

Perfect your Networking Skills

Here are a few upcoming space networking events that may be of interest. When attending these events, practice your skills!

Face to Face: conferences, unconferences and networking gatherings are all great places to meet like-minded space professionals. A few examples include:

Space Tech Expo Europe;  24-26 Oct 2017, Bremen, Germany. It’s a Technology Trade Fair for the aerospace industry in Europe, focused on technology and innovation.

NewSpace Europe; 16-17 November 2017, Luxembourg. NewSpace Europe is the first space conference in Europe to focus solely on the NewSpace industry and the economic opportunity of space. Hosted by The Ministry of the Economy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in Luxembourg City, NewSpace Europe will center around the theme “New Frontiers of Opportunity” highlighting the exponential growth of the space ecosystem, critical to creating a sustainable space economy across the world. 

SpaceUp: a space un-conference, held in many locations around the world, where participants decide the topics, schedule, and structure of the event.

NASA International Space Apps Challenge: A global hackathon held around the world to solve space-related challenges and develop new business ideas.

Online:

NewSpace People is a social network for space professionals and companies.


Posted by Michael Clanton

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