How to Successfully Network When You’re In Between Companies

entrepreneurshipWorkplace Success

I am an entrepreneur in between companies. How can I succinctly explain this in networking situations?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Explain a Positive Past, Optimistic Future

“In one sentence, explain a positive portrayal of your past experience. Transition to one sentence on what you look forward to doing in the future or what opportunities you’re seeking. It’s always important to keep it light and positive.”

Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

2. Appear Goal-Oriented

“Even if you haven’t solidified your next move yet, prepare a few concrete business or personal development goals that you can rattle off when attending networking events. Basically, you want to sound like you know what you’re doing. The last thing you want is to appear like you are simply drifting from one company to the next.”

Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

3. Say You’re Looking for Your Next Venture

“The phrase “looking for your next venture” implies a previous venture and also implies an amount of choosiness (as opposed to desperation) while getting across the fact that you are not currently working on a project.”

Brennan White, Watchtower

4. Own It

“Rare are those with a clear career path or the entrepreneurs who have not seen deals fall through. Partnerships fail or simply decide to do something different. If you can articulate with intelligence what brought you to this transition point and where you are trying to go next, then maybe your conversation is about to get interesting.”

Henry Glucroft, Henry’s / Airdrop

5. Give Your Elevator Pitch

“In any networking situation, you should present yourself in an assured, positive way. You knew how to give the elevator pitch for your last venture, so what’s the pitch for where you are now? What did you learn from your last experience? What is your next goal? Thinking through these things ahead of time will help you network with confidence.”

Heather Lopes, EarlyShares

6. Be Real

“Every entrepreneur has been in your situation. Whether your past business is boring you or just went bust, networking is all about connecting for new opportunities. Be genuine about your past experience. Others will be grateful if you share something they can learn from or may offer feedback to help your situation. My best advice has been given to me when I needed it most.”

Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals

7. Be Yourself and Listen

“Be yourself, and when in networking situations, make sure you listen and make eye contact. Feel out the person or group you’re talking to. Find ways to present your past experiences when they fit into the conversation. Be positive. There is always something that people can relate to in most conversations. Listen and learn what that is, and you will be fine.”

Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

8. Explain That You’ve Structured Your Startup

“It is important to put the emphasis on your entrepreneurial spirit. Explain that you have already structured your startup and established a team that is running the business as if you are present with minimal supervision, and you are now ready for your next passion/challenge.”

Evrim Oralkan, Travertine Mart

9. Say Just That

“People understand that entrepreneurs sometimes switch projects. To say that you’re an entrepreneur in between companies makes people think that you’re still working just as hard as when you are at a company and inspires confidence that you’ll be an entrepreneur at a new company soon. When networking, remember that it’s more about the other person and how you make him feel than it is about you.”

Michael Seiman, CPXi

10. Be Proud

“Be proud of your situation. Embrace the lessons learned from each venture and articulate how it helped shape your current view or currently developing view. At the end of the day, it is about telling the evolution of you as a brand. Don’t be short, hide it or shut down. Most people are afraid of starting and failing in business; you have a powerful story to tell.”

Ilya Bodner, The Shipyard