I was in Silicon Valley for only 10 days, but I managed to set up meetings with CEOs and top management at start-ups such as Playdom, Box.net, Square, TrialPay, Aardvark, iSkoot, Oodle, Thumbtack, and MyFit. How did I do it? I leveraged the power of my network. Here are some networking tips:
- First, try to clearly define your abilities and goals. Narrow this down into a short (4 or 5-sentence) self-description. If you can use bullet points, even better. You’ll include this, along with an attached resume, to all your emails.
- Then start by setting up a meeting/call with someone you know who is connected to the industry you’re interested in. Explain what you’re looking for and give some examples of companies that interest you. Ask for any suggestions. Ask if they could introduce you to anyone. Make sure you follow-up with an email and thank them.
- Follow-up with anyone they introduce you to. Repeat the same steps, and ask for more introductions. If each person you talk to leads to 2 or 3 more contacts, you’ll be full of meetings before you know it.
- Do you have a dream company? Check on LinkedIn if you have any connections to them. The steps above could help with that. If not, check out the blogs of some key people at the company. You should be able to find their email address and a hook of a common interest.
- Set up an information interview. These are often better than formal interviews because they are more low-key and cooperative. Tell the person that even if they don’t currently have any open positions, you’d still love to meet them.
- Email them again a few days later if they don’t respond. People get busy and emails get lost. As long as you don’t do it every day, it will be seen as persistent, not rude. You can also try calling.
- Remember to send thank-you/follow-up emails after every meeting and thank-you cards.