I'm a MBA student looking to get connected with people in the startup community in NYC. I'm graduating in May and looking for networking events or the opportunity to meet with people that are currently looking for talent.
Good networking question to ask in a city where there are around the clock networking options. As the author of a book on the subject of networking and as one of the 10 Most Well-Connected People in New York City's Startup Scene, I have a few thoughts on where this MBA student can start looking - before he even arrives in Silicon Alley. And a side note: when I jumped into the New York City Startup community in 2011, I jumped in as in really jumped in! I RSVP'd for everything and attended multiple events a night. Not only did I want to meet angel investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and community leaders, I knew I needed to understand the dynamic of the startup ecosystem too. It's not enough to simply show up, you need to know how to show-up too. By attending events (plus research and lots of observation) I knew where to ultimately focus my time (and my networking asks).
Networking effectively means leveraging online opportunities to make wise networking choices offline. By leveraging online opportunities, I'm referring to gathering information (reading blogs, signing up for investor newsletters not just a simple Google search) and sleuthing around (say, on Meetup) before you send a random "hey, I was wondering" inMail on LinkedIn. Your curiosity (aka research) will ensure you ask a better "I'm looking to get connected" email.
An example from my book, Build Your Dream Network, provides useful guidance to the out-of-towners looking to step in to any startup ecosystem:
New networking means getting to know people online to secure the meeting offline. Take Jennifer as an example. Jennifer is the founder of a technology platform that connects up-and-coming brands with social influencers. She has relocated her start-up to New York City in order to meet people at major fashion brands and other potential customers. Her challenge is to quickly build trust in the social networking world so these individuals will agree to meet with her. Social influencers are online, so Jennifer has to build rapport on their turf (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Periscope) if she has the slightest hope of securing an in-person meeting. The authenticity and believability of her networking approach has to align with the core offering of her start-up. If she doesn't display the same transparent networking tactics as the influencers she's looking to attract to her platform, her credibility with both influencers and brands is over!
The new networking tactics for Jennifer, before she even asks to meet for coffee, are to:
1. Not only follow these targets on social media, but retweet, like, repost, and pin their content
2. Subscribe to their newsletters, blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts (and then share insights with her network)
3. Join their meet-up groups
4. Participate in the live video-streaming sessions they conduct (plus promote and live-tweet them)
How does this translate for the MBA student looking to connect with potential startup employers?
1. Research New York City based startup-accelerators, angel investor groups and venture capital firms.
2. Follow them on social media, read their blogs and subscribe to their newsletters.
3. Make a list of the accelerators and firms that post job-openings in their portfolio companies. Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA) lists the companies that are hiring (and tweets out this information too).
4. See which accelerators and groups host their own events (ERA does) or where the principals of these events are speaking. 37 Angels regularly sends out a concise list of upcoming events by date. Use this information to plan your NYC networking calendar before you arrive.
5. Update your own online profile and ensure your Linkedin profile matches your resume. A tip from Amanda Ellis Cuban (who is interviewed in Build Your Dream Network) "Recruiters are fact checkers. A big red flag is a LinkedIn profile that doesn't match a corporate online bio or the CV that is attached a potential candidate's e-mail."