When you're in the earliest days of your start-up, you are completely head down, focused on your product and you don't have much time for reaching out, and you're certainly not relying upon others to help you.
And then you hit your first time where you need to solicit advice, hire contractors, or to network, you encounter your first Great Wait.
When my Co-Founder and I started Shyndyg, we needed a lot of help once we got the minimum viable product up and running. We were sending out solicitations fast and furiously.
And then we waited. And waited.
Some of the organizations and people we thought would be the quickest to get back to us were the slowest off the mark. It was heartbreaking. (And yet, some of the people we NEVER expected to hear from were quick, kind, and gracious.)
We weren't waiting around frantically refreshing our email, but it still felt like an eternity.
So, what do you do when you're forced into a Great Wait?
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Explore Your Options
Unless you need the advice of a person whose expertise is so unbelievably specific as it pertains to your business, there is most likely someone else out there who can answer your question, or point you in the direction of someone who can. Use LinkedIn or a blog search to see if someone else can help you. The first person you asked might still get back to you, but you need to get moving, so move on to the next.
It's easy to get stuck on one thing, and one thing alone, forgetting you have a million fires to put out when you're starting up. Make sure you're keeping the long view in mind, and you're rolling your emails and solicitations on a number of these things in parallel. Once someone gets back to you, you can make that project your next priority.
Get Out And Meet People
You should always be physically out and networking with people in your community who do what you do. Not sure where to start? Use sites like meetup.com to find meetups and associations where you can make new contacts.
There is a side benefit to this: you might find someone who can directly help you, but you also might solve the problem yourself just from talking it out with someone who has a different perspective on your business than you do. (That's worth two hours of your life working a room with overpriced beer any day.)
Be Creative With Contact
If you really, truly need that one person to get back to you, consider contacting them a different way. There's always the good old fashioned telephone, but there's also Linkedin, Twitter, and personal blogs. I regularly receive hundreds of emails a day and some just get lost in the shuffle. You don't have to make yourself a pest, just make yourself heard.
Both personal and business etiquette call for you to follow up with people to thank them after you hear back from them. This is where a personal touch always goes a long way. No one has to reply, so treat every reply like a personal favour and thank them. Invest in good stationery. Learn what people like to drink, or where they like to eat lunch. Pay that person indirectly for their help and time. This will only pay off in the long run, and show others you're not a fly-by night company.