What are some networking resources you've found and had success with?

Richard Gaas Product Manager

Last updated on March 25th, 2019

What are some of the best resources you've found for networking and finding other people outside of your circle? I never had an opportunity to properly network outside of the scope of my old company (oil and gas) and I just feel lost trying to found my own startup without any tech savvy friends. I got accepted into an incubator and I consistently pique investor interest but I still feel like I'm falling short

Josh Silverstone COO of MindTeam Solutions | Co-Founder of the Idea MindTeam Platform | Best-Selling Author

March 28th, 2019

One of the best things I've done personally and professionally was being part of an intentional group. In the past, I was part of a committee for the chamber of commerce as well as my community HOA board. Even more on point is being part of a mastermind group where you can get feedback on your ideas and connect with people who can help you. I'd be happy to share some other insights with you offline, if you're interested here's a recent article that I wrote:

Paweł Polewicz Software engineer with 16 years of experience building services for startups, SMEs and corporations

March 25th, 2019

Attend a conference with an agile theme or a networking-heavy "conference-like" event for startups such as Wolves Summit, Slush, latitude59, techchill etc. Pick the ones that have a networking/matchmaking app.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

March 29th, 2019

First of all Richard, congratulations on getting into the incubator. I'm with Tony in his opinion your incubator should be doing a better job introducing you around. But there are some who don't offer as much of this type of support and focus on product much more than business skills.

I would question what it is you actually mean by "networking." Networking can be so many different things. And generally what most people consider networking is really a waste of time that could be better spent doing a specific other activity.

I'm reading between the lines a little bit, but what I'm interpreting without much information is that you're looking to collect some peers that can act as a sounding board for your ideas or inspire you to consider thoughts that you might otherwise be blind to with only your officemates around.

That's not what I'd consider most people to believe networking is. I feel like most people think networking is really prospecting for business, making sure people know a little bit about what you do, and giving them something intelligent to remember you by. That kind of networking is like throwing darts in the dark hoping for a score and is generally a waste of time. But looking for peers to inspire you is not a waste of time.

Generally you gain those desirable assets in the give-give-get model. It's work, but finding opportunities to help other people who are in the headspace you want to share, is what earns you their interest and puts them in a position to want to do you favors. The difference is in the approach. When you start with "How can I make your life better?" you have a totally different relationship than when you simply relate your own struggles and then leave the other person wondering why they should be helping you.

That's not a very specific "where" but it does give you an idea that you want to go to the places where the people you're hoping will help you in some way go when they're looking for someone to help them. Figure out what you could help someone like that with (doesn't have to be technical help, it could be help with relationship advice, with finding rare items, or something else personal), and then be there where they may voice their own frustrations. Go do things that they care about and just be present. Listen. Ask questions that demonstrate you are listening. Be friendly. You'll win support for your own techie needs just by being neighborly.

Olha Bahaieva Co Founder at BahBah & UX/UI Designer and Mentor

March 30th, 2019

I believe slack groups are the best.

Niels Koizumi fix everything

April 2nd, 2019

congrats richard! right behind you. dare i say here that my best successes have been on a-n-g-e-l-l-i-s-t. even unpaid accounts allow you to search based on location, skill sets and experience

Tony B All knowledge is self knowledge. Keep learning. Stay hungry.

Last updated on March 27th, 2019

I'm actually surprised that your incubator isn't helping out with the networking side of things a little more. I feel ya though! Let's see what we can do about that here. We can shoot from the hip a little, even not knowing the specifics of what your startup is. :)

First off, you are networking right now and that is essential no matter your resources or tools, so now you just have to do it consistently. Good job on that. So one of the key things here is to possibly change your posture on networking expectations and slowly build your networking behavior. I say this partially motivated by your comment, "... I consistently pique investor interest but I still feel like I'm falling short". So what's the actual goal here; Making a sale, letting industry professionals know you and the product exist, feeling out the market for where you fit in or all of the above? Since they are not mutually exclusive, it can be helpful to know what resources or networking channels work best with your goals. It's important to realize that not all networking channels are the same so you don't want to be sales focused in a channel that is more about objectivity and industry news. Hope that makes sense.

I'd start by getting out a pen and paper and start a list of what industry related events are coming up and what industry related communities are accessible to you on and offline. Start with some basics like LinkedIn or Meetups, etc... Then sort of jump in, but make sure that you pay attention. The goal here, when starting out, is to just get some footing and get yourself inserted into the appropriate conversation and decide what channels work best for you. Keep in mind that you will get better over time and eventually most any venue will present opportunity for you. For example, if you go to seminars or conventions, the atmosphere is built and set up for just that sort of interaction. People are more mentally geared up for churn-n-burn sort of interactions until they find a deeper conversation or opportunity to move into. This is a different experience from that of a local or smaller event that might have a more intimate setting of professionals and allow for a more shared conversation or even an online forum where you have more time to craft your questions and reread the responses.

I won't take you too far down that rabbit hole right now so let me just wrap up and get to the point. There isn't a "known" resource or channel that you can jump in and just succeed. You really just need to start interacting, just like you are doing here, but really teach yourself to listen and pay attention to the conversation. Sometimes we get distracted with the "act of networking" to the point that we suddenly don't even remember what we just discussed with this person or that person and now suddenly can't even remember their name. It won't take as long as you think to get the hang of it and discover what resources are actually available and which ones fit your objective. Stick to it. Practice. Pay attention and what you are looking for will reveal itself.

Follow up and let us know how some of this goes or hit me up on LinkedIn and maybe we can go find some places or groups to get you started. We'll go have some fun and see who we can meet. Cheers!

elliot chaves Entrepreneur with Design background, Looking for a CTO Cofounder

March 28th, 2019

Congrats on the acceptance Richard. Sounds like a step in the right direction. I am in a similar situation and looking for the tech side of my business to be. I will post anything once I find something that produces results.

Richard Gaas Product Manager

Last updated on March 31st, 2019

Thanks Elliot, Paul Tony and Josh!

Richard Gaas Product Manager

March 31st, 2019

Olha, I've never understood what the appeal of Slack is. Is it like discord for working professionals? Do you have any group links you could share?

Brian Quinn CEO

Last updated on April 2nd, 2019

Hey Richard! If you're looking to network with more tech savvy professionals you can take a look at Utilo here:

Utilo is an incentivized knowledge sharing platform for entrepreneurs and business professionals. In other words, users get paid for asking and answering business-related questions. We're currently in a private, invite-only beta, but if you're interested in joining our community I'd be more than happy to send you (or anyone else on cofounderslab that sees this), an invite-link so that you can be granted immediate access!