The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
What’s your best little-known advice for finding/meeting awesome people to help your startup outside the major tech hubs?
1. Get Out
Go to local industry events in your area, no matter how small they might appear to be. Search sites like Eventbrite and Meetup to see what relevant events are happening near you. Get out and meet people in person!
- Tim Jahn, matchist
A few of my team members attend about one conference a month. Some of the best ones we’ve gone to for networking are the Everywhere Else Startup Conference and Underground. These are great ways to meet potential partners, customers, advisors, etc., outside of your geographic region.
- Kelsey Meyer, Digital Talent Agents
Register for Startup America. This is a two-year-old organization backed by the White House, Kauffman, Case Foundation and many large companies. There are regional leadership groups in most states that are helping to connect the local entrepreneurial scene. Each region hosts events, and the leadership is comprised of volunteers — normally entrepreneurs — who simply want to help.
- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
4. Ask for Intros
When I travel, I usually email a few key contacts in each city before I arrive, asking them who else I should meet while I’m in town. The key when making this request is to understand your own needs so your contacts can introduce you to the right people. It’s a great way to lay the foundation for serendipity!
- Martina Welke, Zealyst
5. Look at a Map of Your Industry
LUMA Partners makes industry maps that show you the different companies in your industry and what they do. This is a valuable tool for researching all the partners and v
endors who could elevate your business to the next level. Cold call or email the most relevant companies — you don’t need to be in the same city to create value for each other.- Emerson Spartz, Spartz
6. Start With Incubators and Accelerators
Technology and startup crowds cluster around innovation hubs, so in most smaller cities, this activity is centered around incubators, accelerators and
startup co-working spaces.
This is usually ground zero for founders, vendors, investors and mentors, and this is often where you’ll find the local startup community’s heartbeat. Go there and introduce yourself to everyone!
I make notes on interesting people I want to meet — people who have written great blog posts, been on TV, etc. — and I make a point of contacting three people off my list every day. It may be a simple introduction, or there may be something I have in mind for the process. Either way, you can’t wait around for other people to network for you.
- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
Clarity is a really neat site started by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. The goal is to make it easy for early-stage founders to find and speak with experts across the startup ecosystem. Whether you’re seeking a mentor, an advisor, an investor or something else, Clarity may be the one-stop site you need, especially if you live outside a major tech hotbed.
- Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
Think like an Internet stalker … except less creepy. My co-founder and I regularly play the “six degrees of separation” game with our LinkedIn and Facebook connections. When we find someone who looks interesting, we ask for an introduction (or, if we’ve veered REALLY far from the original connection, we make a cold call). The Internet is a beautiful thing — use it to your social advantage.
- Brittany Hodak, ‘ZinePak