As an expat Canadian (New York City has been home for over 20 years), a question I am frequently asked by foreign startups seeking funding or new customers is “how do I network in the United States?” Oh, if only it was so easy to give a single piece of networking advice for that 50 state question. Here’s why: . One set of networking rules does not fit all geographic locations. – as it will improve the likelihood you’ll make the right connections and enhance the interactions you make.
“ ” – Julia Cheek, founder of digital health platform EverlyWell
Know Before You Go
Do your research on the investors or companies you want to meet, and the city you’ll be meeting them in, well before you book a flight or send a “here’s my pitch deck can we meet over coffee” email. You’ve undoubtedly heard the advice countless times before – and it’s guidance worth adhering to, as it will save you endless wasted hours and dollars in the long run. Google meetups in the city where you’re headed. Sign up for hyper-local event newsletters. Crowd source suggestions through Twitter. Whatever your source of information, study and take a keen interest in how the local entrepreneur community interacts – then mirror their behavior.
“Some of the networks do not mix with other networks. It is important to know which are the most relevant networks for your specific startups and in some cases, you might want to participate in completely different events so that you build connections in several networks.” – Itxaso del Palacio. Investment Director at London-based Notion Capital.
Learn The Unwritten Rules
“People will go out of their way to be helpful and, generally speaking, entrepreneurs, investors and others in the community genuinely care about each other and want others to be successful as they believe that a “rising tide lifts all boats” and the more success stories we have in Toronto, the more likely it is that other successes will follow.” – Janet Bannister, partner at Real Ventures
Skip The Sales Pitch
Your goal is to make long-term connections, not simply to close a funding round or land a business deal. Entrepreneurship is a precarious, challenging and uncertain pursuit. When resources (such as time, money and introductions) are scarce, the default is to invest those scarce resources in those with shared values and a demonstrated commitment to the community.
“Everyone knows everyone, literally. In such a close-knit ecosystem like Singapore, all parties
Warm Introductions Work Best
“ – just when you talk to corporations.’ – Anne Marie Droste, partner, Entrepreneur First (Singapore)
Understand Communication Preferences
“ .” – Kinga Stanislawska, founder and managing partner, Experior Venture Fund