Networking hacks

Brahm Singh Eng Head - Deep Search at Quixey

January 3rd, 2014

Branching off from Dhruv Vasishtha's discussion : What resources were invaluable to you early on as an entrepreneur. An area where engineers (in my personal experience) find difficulty starting their own business is business networking.
What are the steps people do for maintaining a high quality business network?

Here is what Dhruv mentioned already : 
Brahm, off the top of my head I listed out a couple of my favorites below:
- Tweet at the person you're looking to connect with and ask a solid question or ask for a contact to follow up with (did this with Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code among others)
- Check out your favorite tech bloggers and get on their personal blog lists --> shoot them a note and ask to chat, I have found health and wellness bloggers very open to helping me and answer my questions
- Be warm and polite, but very up front in your asks to founders. Our main currency is our time and I have found that when someone is direct in providing their background and their ask I can help them best and most efficiently
- download Rapportive, has cut down the amount of time it takes to look up someone to milliseconds and has saved me countless hours over time
- More basic: Google "company name" + "your university" + "location" or + "previous place of employment" and find networks you can tap into or reference when you cold email someone

There are more but have to run out. Any others would be appreciated."

Rob G

January 3rd, 2014

1. be authentic. 
2. give more than you take.  Always offer to help and preferably more often than you ask for help. 
3. Get out of the office and meet people face-to-face whenever possible. It may be time consuming, but building and maintaining a quality business network requires face time (and not Apple's version).
4. go to and join lots of relevant meetup groups.  If you are in a large city there will be more meetups every day than you can possibly handle. go, shake hands and participate. rinse and repeat.  offer to help.
5. stay in touch.  check in with your contacts on occasion. offer to help.
7. offer to help. 
8. if there are specific people you want to meet then make a list and figure out how to meet them.  look through your LinkedIn network and figure out how to get an introduction.  If you are at a meetup ask the organizer to introduce you. Quick example:  in a previous startup we decided that our ideal partner was a division of a F-100 telecom company. I looked through LinkedIn and found a guy (Steve) who used to run that division.  i then found someone who used to work for Steve and got a warm intro. Steve ended up joining our company.  The president of this division had been in Steve's wedding the previous year.  3 weeks later we had our first meeting with this guy's staff and were off and running on our partnership. 
9. offer to help however you can. 
Let me know if i can help. 


January 6th, 2014

Email specifics:
Great Hubspot research from 2012 -- it's generic for sales email but relevant/

a) the address
google, rapportive + mailtester to make sure you are on the right track with the email address.

b) subject line:
the purported research is mixed on subject lines but, for your purposes (i.e. 1:1 emails) the subject lines can afford to be longer: but you have to think about how the email will be consumed -- let's assume the email will be consumed on a small form-factor device (it probably will). In that case, the visible character limit for the subject line imposed by the device + email app will be probably 70--80 characters (72 for my android). So there's no point sending me a subject line with more than 72 characters -- i think approx. 50 characters work best because it will also allow for some preview text from the message body depending on which app the reader consumes the email on. 

c) the subject line needs to be personalized
if at all possible, the subject lines should include the name of a common friend, a referrer. Maybe it's a call out on something they wrote or penned -- whatever it is, the subject line needs to be the motivation for them to open. Brahm Kiran SIngh: fmr google engineer looking to network" may also work. know thy audience!

d) the content
create some templates with different elements to test but keep in mind what recent research has shown to be true. i think the inside sales 2.0 tactics are very valid for cold emails of all types -- the basics elements (and there isn't much more than the basic elements so don't spend too much time on inside sales 2.0) is to
i) write a very short email looking for a referral (a lot of people love connecting you -- it's easy, if you are high caliber then it reflects well on them, they feel good about themselves)
ii) now that you have a referral, you sort of flip an outside cold sales process into an inside sales process
iii) keep the email succinct and easy to consume:

iv) make it about them -- it's not about what you want. it's about why they would want to help/buy/invest. paint their picture in your email.

e) track yourself
keep an eye (or spreadsheet) on industry email numbers/benchmarks and see how your numbers compare.
Tout and Yesware both serve this function well for email. 

it may also be worthwhile putting proper structure around the process with some form of pipeline management -- Streak works great for something like this where you are herding a fairly finite number of contacts through a process.

f) send
the day and time of sending emails (or tweets) is very important -- early morning or late evening on workdays is best. try to do it when they are online and receptive to ad-hoc communication (i.e. when they are unlikely to have meetings or be in their daily commute or be with family or eating)

the biggest factor in networking success is still going to be the relevance -- was there a referrer? do you fill a need that they have? 

Brahm Singh Eng Head - Deep Search at Quixey

January 4th, 2014

Thanks Rob! I think the main thing I am having trouble with is connecting with people via cold mails. People I don't know yet and want to meet/get introduced to. For example a contact on LinkedIn.

Brahm Singh Eng Head - Deep Search at Quixey

January 6th, 2014

Thanks Eoin! Yes that would be great! Highly appreciated

Brahm Singh Eng Head - Deep Search at Quixey

January 6th, 2014

Thanks Eoin for the detailed response! It is very helpful and insightful! - Brahm

Grant Hosford Co-Founder & CEO at codeSpark, Inc

January 7th, 2014

There is some great advice in the posts above so I'll try not to repeat anything. 

  1. One commonly overlooked tactic is meticulous maintenance of your LinkedIn connections.  I ONLY link to people that I have met in person and/or have worked with.  Typically if I've only met you and haven't worked with you I won't connect without an implicit reference or a connection to someone I really trust.  this approach pays powerful dividends over time because people come to know that you take these connections seriously.
  2. Do your homework!!!  This was mentioned by Rob but can't be overstated.  Know what they are doing now, what they've done recently and what they like.
  3. Look for a non-work related connection.  People love talking about their interests so if you can credibly talk about your love of photography, basketball, Russian literature or whatever the contact is into, then don't be afraid to use that in a first conversation.  Generally you wouldn't mention this in a first contact email however.
  4. Make your first ask very reasonable.  "I'd like to set-up a 15 min call for your feedback on X".  People will often give you much more than you ask for if you acknowledge their time is valuable.
  5. Pick up the phone!  Email is easy to ignore.  Don't be afraid to call someone but be respectful of the fact that a call is more intrusive.


January 5th, 2014

Hi Brahm,
It really depends what type of networking you are doing and what the objectives are but assuming you are finding cold contacts via LinkedIn or somewhere else.

a) look for a mutual contact to make the intro (or assemble some advisors with large networks and who have enough pull to make intro's happen)
b) identify and cite a connection that is a reference point (i.e. common workplace, common university, mutual interest, something that forms a bond however loose)
c) don't use LinkedIn messaging if you can avoid it -- find the email address of the person
d) subject line is critical everything -- craft it with each person in mind and try alternatives 
e) structure the email with the psychology of the recipient in mind (look at some of the research on sales emails)
f) keep emails short  and transparent -- format it so it's easy to consume quickly
g) track your emails (i.e. use some sort of tracking on opens/responses like Yesware -- even the free version will be useful)
h) a follow-up email is usually a good idea for high-value contacts (usually the busiest)
i) try alternatives to email (commenting on their blog, tweeting, quora comment)

Hope this helps some -- can point you to specifics for many of the current best practices around email if that's helpful. Just let me know.