First of all I wanna thank my Connect, The most important person with all due respect – Jay-Z
They used to say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. In 2012 that dynamic has changed and now its a combination of both. With the world being so connected it’s now easier to start a business with less resources than traditionally. It’s also now easier to gain traction and social proof than it was over the years as well. But despite things being more accesible having a good connect could mean life or death for your startup.
I think back to the story of how rapper Drake got signed to Cash Money with Lil’ Wayne. He didn’t just pop up on the scene, he made sure he knew people from different regions who could make that connection for him. Didn’t take long before he got his name buzzing with Jas Prince, the son of the legendary independent record executive J. Prince. From his sons influence J. Prince of course made the deal happen on a larger scale with Cash Money records. Thats a part of the Drake story we rarely hear unfortunately.
It was a very strategic move. How else could you get to Lil’ Wayne who might I add was extremely popular at that time. I’m not saying to hit up your desired contacts family member. I’m promoting the fact that you can get close to your desired contact through a chain of referrals. So like Drake, we can network and use connections to get to our desired deal.
Frustrated by a colleague of mine I wrote a post called “Some of you suck at networking.” Truthfully, I think 90 percent of us suck at networking effectively. No news here, it comes down to the basics. Go out to meetups, parties, special events, etc. Nothing beats shaking hands and exchanging cards when meeting new people. Social media can be just as effective. Below is a quote about my strategy to meeting new people via Twitter.
When I read or hear about someone I need to know. The first thing I do is go to google to see if that person has a twitter. I read the recent tweets sometimes even further to see if we have some common ground and if this person is even active. Then I just let it sit for a few days, weeks, even months. I’m not going to reply to tweets if I don’t have a real opinion or reaction about what they are saying. It’s always good to seem authentic. In some cases I tweet them asking for an email to contact, only if I can’t find it myself. My most valuable connections outside of meetups, events, and friends came from twitter.
As soon as Jas Prince told his father Drake was buzzing in Canada. It was a done deal. Referrals are the most effective keys to landing a meeting or a connection. Thats why it’s always good to put product first. When you have a really good product, you make it extremely easy for someone to refer you. Especially with passion. The biggest thing every startup wants is money. Most angel investors and VC’s only speak to entrepreneurs who are referred to them by those they respect and trust. A good start could be the list of mentors and speakers for the various startup accelerators such as 500 Startups, Y Combinator, and Tech Stars.
Why? Who knows. Maybe they don’t want to be bothered. It’s no different from unsigned rappers trying to show exec’s their demo every second. Or maybe they just know if your that good, you’ll find a way to get to them. This varies from different investors. I used investment as an example but the same pretty much goes for whatever you seek.
While we accept business plan submissions from everyone, we’ve found that the most effective introduction is from someone who knows you and knows us. We place a much higher priority on deals that are referred/endorsed by people we know and trust. That includes people employed by existing First Round Capital portfolio companies, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, bankers and recruiters. – First Round Capital
I absolutely love to do favors and help people out. I don’t expect anything in return, but 60 percent of the time I get something anyway. When you become a source, you make yourself valuable and worth someones time. One of the best ways to become a source and to help connect people. I get tons of cards and I can’t always find a way to work with everyone. But If I can link two people together from building my network you never know what can happen.
50 Cent despite his agressive image is one of the most generous rappers. He understands this. I read not too long ago he gave a $100,000 car to Val Kilmer just because. I’m sure he’s done more than what we see in public, how else do you get Academy Award winning actors like Forest Whitaker and Robert Deniro for your crappy straight to DVD films.
The best strategy of all is to be thankful. Every chance we get, we have to show gratitude for the people who will help us out with an intro, referral and more. The Jay-Z quote at the beginning of the post says it all.