Networking (for a first job) Part 1 – Goal and attitude

The Goal

The goal is of networking is NOT to find a job – it is to put yourself in a position where you can get lucky and a job can find you.  So with each person you meet, you need to add to your knowledge and awareness of the “scene” and also find one or two other persons to meet.

Therefore, you need to come to networking with the right set of questions and answers at your fingertips.  The questions are overtly designed to get you the right information and connections to continue your quest, and subtly to show you as the kind of curious and involved person that your contact would love to hire if he/she had a job.

Your Attitude

 But before we cover your preparation for these questions, there is one key factor that must be established:  ATTITUDE.  Your attitude and approach to networking has to be relentlessly positive and even have a touch of BS where you don’t actually feel so positive.  You need to avoid the trap of aimlessness, unsureness, wishy-washy-ness that is probably what most recent college graduates are feeling.

This is especially hard because many of the folks with whom you will be meeting will want to provide you sympathy and support for the difficult task you are undertaking, particularly in this economic climate.

The best way to accomplish this “attitude adjustment” is to practice it like it was a role in a play, until that character becomes you and you can switch her on and off.  This may sound weird, but there is no room for timidity or uncertainty in the process.  That is not to say that you can’t have real questions that the “target” can answer – they don’t expect you to be as focused as they are, and they love being helpful.  But you can’t appear to be wasting their time by requiring them to help you find your focus.  Your focus will appear on its own as this process unfolds.

How to do a startup company analysis – Calacanis style

People have all kinds of reactions to Jason Calacanis, but none of them mild.  I happen to enjoy his cut-to-the-chase way of looking at things, and his east coast bluster.  It’s like he is challenging me as reader/listener to an argument, knowing that the results will be better for our disagreements – as opposed to the wunderkind Silicon Valley bloggers who just want to show how smart (and rich) they are and how little they care about what you think.

Anyway, I provide this introduction because I think his short company analyses based around his “Launch” conference/business are as good as it gets, and we can learn a lot from his approach and style.

Like this one for a new company called Color:  short, dirty but effective analysis

Some valuable links to help with the customer discovery process

Lots of talk about “getting out of the building” as we test all of our hypotheses about who is our customer and what does he/she want or need. The following links are a helpful way to put some meat on the bones, especially if this is the first time you have engaged in such a process. This can also help us avoid ones natural tendency to conduct an impersonal “survey” to avoid the process.  The real challenge is keeping your biases to a minimum impact – more on that later.

How to think about customer development interviews

Some tips on how to find folks to interview

How to think about what you should be learning (and thus the questions . . . )

Making the perfect investor pitch – in 3 little stories

You’ve gotten the meeting—now don’t blow it.

There’s nothing more frustrating for me than when, after listening to an entrepreneur talk about his business for 15 minutes, I still have to ask him the basic questions:
  • What do you actually do for your customer? Who are your customers/markets?

By this time, I’ve sat through either techno-talk or a disjointed conglomeration of PowerPoint slides (or worse, both), when all I really wanted the entrepreneur to do was tell me a story. Continue reading “Making the perfect investor pitch – in 3 little stories”