I'm an army in a swamp: Sarasota. This is a small city that places value on who you know over what you know. I'm not interested in giving away an entire limb of my company for someone to make four phone calls. So how do I make a meaningful business connection in a city with the wrong mentality?
The what-you-know can build who-you-know. Pick a few key people in companies you would like to do business with, or who are influencers. Approach them for a NON-sales conversation, that you're new in the area and would like to get to know them better, and of course you would also be able to tell them something about your capabilities. Then ask them who they'd recommend you talk to. Also join the Chamber or similar orgs and offer to do a freebie workshop on your field of expertise.Again, this is not about selling. It's about beginning to build the long-term relationships so that 6 or 12 months from now, these people are passing your name around. Yes, it's slow.But it's effective.
What sort of value are you looking for? Investment? Development assistance? Partnership? Business Development?
When you're in a small town it is always best to see what you can offer the other person to start building that relationship. See what they value. Everyone always appreciate additional business so making quality introduction always help.
Depending on your business, it is always best to think outside your current zip code to make relationship since it's very easy to send a cold email asking someone knowledgeable for advice on most subject.
Please let me know if this helps or if you'd like to know any tactics I use to build key relationships.
What are you looking for? You shouldn't be giving out equity for connections. You could find advisors and contract them to 1-2% which is normal and good advisors will usually be connected. If people are offering strategy and to connect and help build your company then yes they are due equity. You can't expect someone to connect you to contacts they worked years to establish...for free.