Steven Courtney began working in restaurants at age 14 and fell in love with food. Due to his fascination, he quickly moved through the ranks at several restaurants. Steven understood that he wanted something bigger then restaurants, which is how he discovered a new and different career : food science.
After graduating, he was hired at Campbell Soup Company. It was here where Steven was introduced to an entirely new world and quickly became fascinated with how everything worked in corporate America. Steven began to think bigger and started his own company. He began joining organizations, reading, researching, brainstorming, sitting in on lectures, networking, and attending entrepreneur events.
Steven is surrounding himself with, and learning from, the smartest and most talented entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. Steven is very interested in networking and believes that the lessons he's learned from others are priceless. Steven is currently working on an exciting new idea in which he plans to disrupt the social world.
1) How did you finally realize there was a world of opportunity with social networking?
When I first discovered thhe world of entrepreneurs, everything was still fresh and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It wasn’t until I started to become more involved that I realized most of the people I met were introducing me to others. It became the most powerful lesson I could ever learn: networking is the most important thing in business. The bulb really started lighting up when I was working on launching my first company. It was a time when everything was moving so fast that it became difficult to stop and see the big picture. Someone had asked me “so how did you meet Joe”? The reality is that I met Joe through Chris and I met Chris through an entrepreneur event that Jason recommended I attend and Jason is a friend of a friend.
"It became the most powerful lesson I could ever learn: networking is the most important thing in business"
We live in a world that is very connected and networking lies in the forefront of making things happen. The power of networking will be the most important thing you learn in business. You need to read and learn about how to perfect it. You need to observe those who do it well, what are they doing, what can you learn? Don’t ever stop perfecting the skill of networking as it’s something you will use your entire life. Once you put what you learned into use you will begin to see results and this will push you to become an even better networker.
2) Which social network do you use the most and why?
For business purposes I use Linkedin the most. I think Linkedin is a fantastic way to research companies, people and products. It’s also a wonderful way to connect with folks. I was taught, by a mentor of mine, to build a network around myself, with the purpose of bouncing ideas off each other. This network needs to be really smart people who have great experiences. I reached out a few ways to build my network and Linkedin proved to be very successful. I used Linkedin to read about fellow entrepreneurs and reached out to them when they caught my eye. I simply reached out to them and told them the truth, your background sounds fantastic and I’d love to chat. I also mentioned I’m a firm believer in the power of networking. The answer was always YES!
"I used Linkedin to read about fellow entrepreneurs and reached out to them when they caught my eye."
In fact, this is how I met Skip Shuda, owner of Cheap Revolution, and during our first conversation we talked about this very topic. I wouldn’t be giving you any advice today if I never reached out to Skip on Linkedin. At the end of the day, Linkedin has an enormous database of the most intelligent people in the world as well as a platform that allows you to reach out to anyone. I encourage you to reach out to folks you can learn from - you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
3) Each social network has its own role in networking. Explain how you use each of the networks you are currently on.
I’m going to say that there are a few networks which everyone should have and they are Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. This is the minimum, but the essentials. Each social network plays a very different role then the next. Facebook should be used to tap into your friends and friends of friends, in a less formula and more educational way. Use facebook to understand customers’ wants and needs through questions or pictures. Also use facebook to build a following of whatever you’re doing. Twitter is really where you can take your brand to the next level by finding like minded people and introducing them to what you’re doing.
"Each social network plays a very different role then the next."
As I mentioned, we live in very connected world and twitter is a live example of that. Twitter is where you build your presence and discover that niche market and all of the potential customers that fit into it. We already touched on Linkedin but this is where your business network, not your customers, is expanded. Facebook and twitter should be used to build your brand and linkedin is used to build your network.
4) What would be the one piece of advice you would give for a young entrepreneur? The one piece of advice that can carry you through anything is to believe in yourself. You will encounter lots of bumps in the road but if you believe in yourself then you won’t stop until you get to where you want to go. Also, the power of networking is the most important thing in business. Reach out to as many people as possible until you find your network.
"The one piece of advice that can carry you through anything is to believe in yourself."
Your network will consist of 5-7 really smart entrepreneurs who will help guide you. These 5-7 folks will have different background so it’s a well rounded group, for example, social media, lawyer, marketing, sales ect. If you continue to network and meet new folks you’ll never stop learning and growing. You’re going to learn a tremendous amount from the people you meet along the way.
5) How are people using social networking incorrectly? How can they fix the problem?
In order to truly benefit from social networking you need to be active. You need to pose questions to groups, respond to other peoples questions, post, introduce yourself, build a fan page, reach out to potential customers, build a web presence ect. All of these things will benefit anything you’re trying to do.
"In order to truly benefit from social networking you need to be active."
The only way to use these networks incorrectly is not to be active. I would encourage everyone reading this to start becoming more active, no matter how active you currently are, become more!
What do you think of Steve's advice? Comment below to let us know!