Blogs, Michael Giles

Networking, New York-style

StartupSmart /

Having spent the better part of six months of this year as a study abroad student completing part of my MEI (Swinburne Master of Entrepreneurship & Innovation) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York I’ve been able to fully experience American culture, particularly entrepreneurship.

 

Entrepreneurs are so important here that President Obama is pretty much banking on them to pull the country out of its economic situation through job creation and investment.

 

Contrary to what other people might think I believe entrepreneurs make the world go round. They create jobs and innovations, invest in the future and ultimately shape the world we live in.

 

Since being in the US I’ve experienced a number of cultural differences compared to Australia, most notably the speed with which everything happens, the enthusiasm and support for other peoples’ success and their belief in a higher power.

 

There is a sense of urgency with everything, which is what I love about New York in particular.

 

It’s true that Americans are told they can become the next president while Australians are told to work and save for retirement.

 

That key difference builds self confidence in every individual here which I believe is a key to success.

 

Recently I had a referral to one of the best tech attorneys in town who knows everyone and he responded instantly to my email, on a Sunday.

 

Networking is another key to success.  We’ve heard it a million times before – it’s who you know not what you know but here it’s even more evident.

 

My goal is to build as many meaningful relationships as I can above all else so I spend a lot of my time attending events, catching up with people and just networking in general.

 

You can’t be afraid to ask for introductions and offer to help where you can without expecting anything in return.

 

New York always has plenty of internet-related events, most recently with Internet Week.

 

I tried to attend as many as I could, especially the after parties where you can drink (generally for free), chat and exchange details in a relaxed environment. LinkedIn , Hashable and Foursquare are used a lot here.

 

One interesting event I attended was the function for FoundersCard. I came across it in the events list for Internet Week and decided to become a member and to check it out.

 

From that single event I met VCs, angel investors and a number of other great people, including the founder himself, Eric Kuhn, who told me his entrepreneurial story over a coffee.

 

Apparently Eric is the only person to have listed, delisted and relisted the same company on the Nasdaq – how’s that for persistence?

 

To sum up my experience with the cultural differences:

  • America fast, Australia slow (look at the broadband network).
  • America positive, Australia negative (remember the tall poppy syndrome).
  • Americans love Aussies and vice versa, which probably adds to my happiness here.
  • Americans for some reason have trouble with our accent so you need to adapt.

The most useful resources I have found so far are:

  • Gary’s Guide for all tech events.
  • Under30CEO for networking, particularly connecting with Matt and Jared (founders).
  • You have to be on LinkedIn, it’s critical for networking.
  • Twitter for following the useful people.
  • Foursquare is useful for connecting with people at the same event.
  • Hashable is a new way to share contact details but I still prefer LinkedIn.
  • Facebook.

Here are my key takeaways:

  • The US, particularly New York, is the best place to be for a start-up.
  • Self confidence and networking are keys to success here.
  • It’s important to be healthy and have your life in order. I recommend reading ‘How to be the luckiest person alive’ by James Altucher – it’s basically free at $0.99.
  • I also recommend reading ‘Why people fail’ by Siimon Reynolds
  • Ask for introductions and offer to help where you can.
  • Don’t be afraid of making contact with people you don’t know. It’s called reaching out.
  • Network and then do more networking.

My next post will be about my experience raising capital in New York and hopefully I will have something positive to report on my own start-up.

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