Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Steve Nielsen interview – President and CEO of PartnerUp

Steve Nielsen is the president and CEO of, which he founded in Feb. 2005. Prior to starting PartnerUp, Steve had plans to start an RFID business. He spent months developing his business plan; all he needed was a business partner with electrical engineering experience to help him create the product.

After several months of searching, Steve had to scrap the entire idea because the right person was never found. That is where the idea for PartnerUp came from.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Steve Nielsen: Business networking is connecting with other like-minded people to find the people, resources, advice, ideas, and knowledge needed to succeed in business. It’s important because no matter how smart or business savvy someone is, he or she can still benefit from the knowledge and viewpoint of others.

Also, in the context of PartnerUp, a key component of business networking is the ability to find partners. So many great companies are the result of great partnerships. Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft), Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple), Bill Hewlett and David Packard (HP), and Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google) are all examples of great companies that were started as a result of friendships, which most likely resulted from networking in one form or another.

Josh: Steve, can you share one idea that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their professional networking skills?

Steve Nielsen: In a networking environment, it is important to first give and then take. You have to first be willing to give advice to demonstrate your commitment to the whole idea of business networking. Once you’ve done that and established yourself as a helpful member of a community then you can expect to receive good help and advice.

At PartnerUp the most successful partnerships are the result of people who’ve reached out and been willing to help someone, became friends with them, and then together they started a business.

Josh: For some people knowing where to go to network in the first place is a problem. Can you share some specific resources, events, or places that you have found helpful for meeting new people and growing your business network?

Steve Nielsen: PartnerUp has been incredibly helpful for anyone looking to meet new people and grow their business network (I’m probably a little biased). In addition, local entrepreneurial events are a great place for people to meet others they have something (entrepreneurship) in common with.

Networking through business and entrepreneurial colleges is also helpful. With these colleges come a sense of alumni and kinship, and an eagerness to help wherever possible.

Josh: Steve, you’re the CEO of — can you give us a brief overview of what the company does, as well as some specific ways it would be of benefit to folks who may want to join the community you all have in place there?

Steve Nielsen: PartnerUp is the first online network geared solely to entrepreneurs and startups. We help our members find business partners, co-founders, executives, and board members, network with other entrepreneurs and small businesses, ask for and offer up advice, find commercial real estate, and find service providers for their business (i.e. accountants, ad agencies, etc).

PartnerUp would be beneficial to anyone looking to start or get involved in a business because it takes many of the steps (finding partners/startups, commercial real estate, business resources) necessary for entrepreneurship and compacts them into one efficient and easy-to-use site.

Josh: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?

Steve Nielsen: Our marketing department here at PartnerUp was looking for a part-time digital media supervisor who could help us analytically asses some interactive ad opportunities. We have a proud tradition of doing most of our marketing and advertising in-house, so there was no need to look toward a big ad agency for help.

By networking through our very own site, we were able to find a stay-at-home mom with some big agency experience. She had recently started looking for a part-time gig, so it worked out perfectly. She gave us great feedback and has helped make some impressive improvements in our online ad campaigns.

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