Xbox Live Gold price increase Nvidia Shield update Third stimulus check details Microsoft AI chatbot patent Bernie Sanders' mittens memes Returning stimulus money to the IRS Galaxy S21 review

Startup Secret No. 24: Learn networking. The other networking

The most valuable skill a business leader can have is not technical, and they don't teach it in school.

"It's how you know, not just who."

--Nick Hughes, CEO, Seconds

Nick just launched Seconds, an SMS gateway for small businesses. I think it's brilliant. So I asked him for a Secret, and he gave me this one.

No matter how good your technology or product, Nick says, other people will be critical to your success. It is vital to continually develop your network. "You must reach out, look them in the eye, shake their hand, smile and ask what you can do for them because you never know if five years down the line they just might be your company's lifeline," he says. "Part of being a great entrepreneur is being great with the people side of life."

Nick learned this lesson the honest way, from failure. He says, "I spent years working on my previous startup, learning a lot of lessons but ultimately failing at bringing it to market. The biggest problem? None of the four of us were connected to the larger tech startup communities in Silicon Valley or Seattle. We didn't realize how important the relationships were, with other engineers, business dev people, investors, advisors, media. We just worked quietly on our project and tried to roll it out on our own."

"It was like we were trying to launch a company on an island," he says.

Being an entrepreneur means being comfortable inside your own head, and being confident, even arrogant, about what you're doing. But you can't succeed without connecting to the world outside yourself. And not just when you're ready to sell something.

Startup Secrets is based on personal interviews with people building companies and from their blog posts and news stories. Subscribe to Startup Secrets on Twitter or come back to Rafe's Radar every day for a new one. See all the Startup Secrets.