In my podcast, I explore the many different facets of the world of high tech from development to marketing, to sales, to entrepreneurship, all with the goal of collecting key insights on startups for listeners to gain value from this knowledge-sharing. So, what did I discover this week?

Networking, especially in Israeli high-tech, is a foundational component of the startup industry. Meeting new people, introductions between professionals, and finding clients and business opportunities through new connections and meetups are vital for growing a person’s or business’ reputation, clout, and revenue. And, to help facilitate this networking, while a person can go about it on their own, there also exist many different communities to help people connect.

Whether they are industry, position, or area specific, these groups help people meet each other by breaking down the initial ‘barrier of introduction’ and connecting people via shared interests or professional situations. But how do you go about building these connecting communities? It is not a simple task and requires very careful curation of the community, and an understanding of how to both entice new members and retain old members.

Build a Community You Want to Be In

"I wanted to help myself and people like me who are in the high-tech industry, with a mid-level seniority or above, and wanted to give as much as they wanted to receive," says Gilad Liptz, founder of the BizDevExec Club - Business Development Community for the Israeli tech industry. Business development roles, for those who may be unfamiliar with the term, are positions where a person actually goes out into the market, identifies opportunities, and manages to create business relations. Doing so largely relies on the strength of business development professionals’ networks and the ease of using that network for potential growth, so building a community for these professionals would definitely be a helpful resource.

In building this community, Gilad intended to add “value” to the business development position, which, in many ways, is largely a networking role. What would be considered valuable for the community? In Gilad’s perception, it is the loop of sharing opportunities, tips, and connections, while also profiting from others sharing in the group. Up to the point in his career where he began the community, Gilad had struggled to find the right group of business development executives, centralized in one location, that could help provide value to other business development leaders. “The key thing was making a system whereby we have a mutual feedback loop, I give feedback and you give feedback, meaning we have an ecosystem that helps each other and adds value,” adds Gilad. After all, what’s a community worth if you cannot have a fair and respectful flow of opportunities, advice, and connections?

Clear Rules - With a Personal Touch

Gilad stresses that as part of growing a good and prosperous community, it requires both making clear community guidelines while also remembering that you are working with people. “I make sure that it is clear from the beginning what the rules and expectations are for all people who come into the group,” Gilad mentions, “in that way, we not only ensure a respectful dialogue, but that only relevant content and opportunities are shared.” Even in the most professional of settings, the lack of rules can make adhering to a base level of conversation or topical relevance challenging. Gilad wanted to avoid that entirely.

That being said, nothing is perfect, and it is not just enough to make rules, as Gilad puts it, you have to be willing to understand your community and work with them. In the event of a community member who has an unusual request or makes a mistake by going against the rules, it is important to try to see their perspective first before just going down the path of “did you follow the rules?” As Gilad says, “it’s about realizing that your community is made up of people, people who have their own interests and can make errors, it’s about working with them, and if you can’t, then you show them the door.”

As you go about building your own community, think first about how you can add value to someone’s daily routine. With value comes the mission and the rest of the guidelines can flow from there. Good luck networking!