Network Like A Boss
This guest post was written by Marc McDougall of Kilobyte Studios, LLC.In a startup, all bets are off. At any point in time, you’re making a decision that likely has not been made before, so it’s incredibly important that you have a framework in place to help you out.Local networking is one of those areas that startups do poorly all the time. It seems to intuitive that you’d just want to network to get the word out about your product or service, but that’s not always the case!This guide aims to dispel some of the rumors about local networking, as well as to give you an actionable framework for finding events, and (when you do attend) to get the most out of them.Let’s get started.
Set A Networking Goal
Almost everything you do in the networking domain is tied to your overall networking goal. It’s important to get it right the first time (make it a SMART goal), and then use that goal as an anchor to help you throughout the next month of networking. What you attend, who you connect with, and what your ROI should be.
- Make sure your networking goal is tied to a tangible business goal.
- Make sure it’s a SMART goal.
- Make sure each networking event you choose to attend, ties to that goal and creates value because it is an investment of your time.
Key Takeaway: The networking goal influences every decision you make - spend a ton of time getting it right. It will give you a direct ROI for each event attended.
There is an abundance of networking events in Atlanta. Because of this, it’s critical that you vet the events you attend to maximize the return on your time. Just showing up to dozens of events dilutes your time, and could even waste it.
- Spend time finding the most relevant and valuable events to attend.
- Always vet the host before attending.
- Most of the time, the best way to vet the event is to simply attend.
Here’s some quality tech events you should consider attending:
- Atlanta Startup Village at Atlanta Tech Village.
- Startup Chowdown and Pitch Practice at Atlanta Tech Village.
- Network Under 40 and ATLeaders for Millennials.
- Network After Work if you want to target the corporate space.
- Entrepreneur’s Night at ATDC.
- Angel’s Lounge at ATDC, if you’re seeking investment.
Key Takeaway: Your time is incredibly-valuable, so make sure you’re not wasting it at useless events!
Before the Event
Although not completely necessary, preparing before the event is a fantastic way to show how proactive you are (and subsequently waste less time at the events themselves).
- Make a quick plan of who you want to see or connect with before the event.
- Reach out to them: this will make you look very proactive. Most people don’t do this, so you will stand out.
- Get active on social! Use the hashtag, tag the location, and tag the ppl you want to meet.
Key Takeaway: Like the networking goal itself, planning and being proactive builds your personal brand in a valuable way.
After the Event
Following up is just as important if not more important than the event itself.
- Keep it simple and authentic.
- Don't make a sales pitch.
- Personalize your follow-up and make it authentic.
- Keep it simple, and be specific about where you want the interaction to go.
Key Takeaway: Following up is just as important as the event itself. Make the connections that create value for you, and focus on becoming a familiar and comfortable presence.If you take away one thing from this guide, let it be this: 90% of the battle is showing up to the event and smiling. If you can do that consistently over time, you’ll see the results you want.Have a blast out there folks!