The Key Resources for Growing Your Network in the Startup Co
- The Key Resources for Growing Your Network in the Startup Community
- “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
- Translation for startup entrepreneurs: your product and your expertise don’t matter, but your connections do.
- Fortunately, this isn’t completely true, but it is partially true. What you know definitely matters, but who you know is no less important and can make all the difference between a great product that fails and a great product that succeeds.
- I moved out to Silicon Valley just four weeks ago largely for the enhanced networking opportunities and, since arriving, I’ve utilized a set of invaluable tools to help me discover the best places to meet others in the startup community and to gather relevant information about the people I’m meeting. The new relationships I’ve developed have been amazing to me, so I’d like to share the list of tools I’m using with everybody else. Let me know if there’s any I missed and I’ll make the appropriate additions.
- StartupDigest – StartupDigest is a weekly curated e-mail that provides a list of the most worthwhile startup-related events going on near you. In the past year, the company has really taken off and now reaches a ton of cities around the United States and countries all over the world. And in addition to weekly e-mails listing your local events, StartupDigest also curates e-mails with the best articles about different topics within the startup community.
- Plancast – Plancast allows you to track categories (including “startups” and “technology”) and people to know where all of the best meetups are happening. The service aggregates events that are listed on a bunch of different websites and provides you with a one stop shop for everything you need to know about each event. Everyone in the startup community should be using this website. It’s a game-changer.
- Meetup – Meetup is a group organizer that allows you join groups, RSVP to group events, and communicate with other group members. Many of the Meetup events show up on Plancast, but they just redirect you back to the Meetup website, so you’ll need to sign up for both.
- GrubWithUs – Attend organized dinners at pre-chosen restaurants with other people whom you’ve never met. Some will share your interests and passions and others won’t, but you never know what one random connection might lead to.
- LetsLunch – Go on lunch dates with others who share your interest and build up your reputation by leaving a positive impression with the people you meet. If you build your reputation up high enough, you can earn the opportunity to eat with startup luminaries such as Eric Ries, Jeff Clavier, and Jonathan Abrams.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a great tool for getting to know someone’s professional background and, if you pay for a premium subscription, reaching out to desired contacts in a much less cluttered environment than e-mail.
- Twitter – If you use Twitter the right way, it might be even more valuable than LinkedIn as a networking tool. The service gives you access to startup community luminaries that might otherwise be hard to reach.
- Rapportive / Xobni – These services are fairly similar in nature. They provide you with relevant professional information about whoever you’re chatting with via e-mail, including the person’s social media accounts. (Rapportive is designed exclusively for Gmail, while Xobni focuses on Microsoft Outlook and just recently launched a Gmail beta version.)
- And for those of you in Silicon Valley, here are a few bonus tools:
- WebWallflower – Like StartupDigest, WebWallflower provides a curated list of upcoming startup-related events, but it focuses solely on the Bay Area and only comes once a month. The difference between WebWallflower and StartupDigest is that WebWallflower focuses on comprehensiveness, while StartupDigest is more selective. I recommend subscribing to both.
- Hackers & Founders – Hackers & Founders is a specific meetup group in Silicon Valley, but it’s important to know because it’s generally viewed as the Y Combinator of meetup groups. (In fact, the group even launched an "accidental incubator.") The participants in this meetup are top-notch and the group’s organizers do a fantastic job of providing a social and fun networking environment.
- 106 Miles – If Hackers & Founders is the Y Combinator of Silicon Valley meetup groups, 106 Miles is the 500 Startups. You really can’t go wrong either way. In fact, you’ll see a lot of the same people at both of these get-togethers and undoubtedly leave satisfied.
- Whether you’re a hacker, a hustler, or a designer, everyone should be networking. Relationships are key to a startup’s success, so get out there!
- If you’d like to read in depth about networking strategies, I highly recommend purchasing the book "Never Eat Alone." The small investment you’ll make pales in comparison to value of the lessons you’ll learn. (I’d also be happy to cover some of the main points from this book in a future blog post if people express interest in the comments below.)
- And of course, if you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear from you @MaxWendkos.