“Entrepreneurs Durham chatted to the Durham Computer Science graduate turned Entrepreneur, Matthew Strafford on entrepreneurship, networking and Durham life.”
On 20th November, Matthew Strafford talked to Entrepreneurs Durham about networking, business building and how to be a student entrepreneur. Since graduating he has gained an extensive network of people, including the Queen, and set up several businesses. 9others, (www.9others.com) the one he discussed in most detail aims to gather a group of entrepreneurs over dinner to discuss innovative ways to solve their businesses issues.
Matthew Strafford’s 8 ways to Work Your Network
1) Get businesses card: specifically plain, rough paper
2) Sharpie pen: use it to write on the business after an event. Who were they? Where did you meet them? Something memorable.
3) Get and use Twitter
4) Get Linkedin. It isn’t perfect but it is expected once you start looking for jobs.
5) Invest time and effort
6) In Q&A sessions note down who speaks. Go chat to them afterwards. They are the talkative ones and will probably be up for a chat.
7) Have an email signature. Include Name, Telephone and Twitter ID.
8) Reply to emails within 24 hours.
Afterwards we asked him a few questions about Durham and Entrepreneurship.
ED: How did Durham prepare you for starting your own business?
Matthew: While starting a business wasn't really thought of by me or Durham as an option when I graduated in 2006, Durham was great in hindsight because of the way it encouraged hard work and confidence. I studied computer science, which was great in that it taught real problem solving, logic and decision making, which are essential for running a business.
ED: If you could give university self some advice what would it be?
Matthew: Encourage students to make money - going to university is very expensive but resourceful students can start a business and make money alongside their degree and in the holidays. Sometimes students and recent graduates think too academically about business but the truth is that a business has to make more money than it spends by having customers that see value in the product.
ED: What are your three tops tips for anyone wanting to start a business?
1) Try something with a friend - just do it - and do it offline and without tech for 24 hours - what can you sell and to whom? This makes sure you don't 'hide' behind 'needing' a website, an app, investment, staff etc.
2) Think of an idea as a 'project' and not a 'business' so you focus on getting quick validation.
3) Make decisions, iterate, learn and begin again to progress but never give up.
There you have it and insider’s guide to becoming a networking pro. However if you have any questions then you can tweet Matthew at @mstafford