One of the many hats I currently wear is as the co-founder of a tech start-up called Globa.li, where we’re creating a web application that provides a better digital identity for travel companies.
As I move into unfamiliar territory in the tech world, I’ve been tapping into my personal and professional networks like crazy. Asking for meetings to bounce ideas off people who know more than I do about technology, consult my colleagues in the travel space about what they are seeing as unmet needs, and draw on best practices from marketers in other industries.
What am I finding? People out there, no matter how busy or successful they may be, are excited to help and extremely generous with their time.
However, there are some unwritten rules to this “pay it forward” phenomenon. Here are 4 things you need to know to keep this amazing cycle of sharing time, experience and insight going.
1. “Don’t suck at email”. Ok, this is a direct quote from Brad Feld and the Tech Stars guys, but it’s true. The busiest, most successful people I’ve interacted with don’t suck at email. They return emails promptly and you should do the same. On a related note, be sure to send a meaningful, follow up thank you email immediately after your meeting.
2. Create a “stalker list”. Looking to connect with someone outside your immediate network? Or perhaps someone well known and influential in your community? Create a list of 5-10 of these people. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their blog posts and interact with them online. If you engage with them virtually, when it comes time to request an in-person meeting they will recognize your name and you’ll have great lead in material referencing past blog posts or social conversations you may both have been a part of.
3. You drive the conversation. Plan your talking points in advance and be clear form the start what specifically you’re hoping to learn from them.
4. Give back. What can you do for these people who have taken their precious time to meet with you? Instead of just asking, “what can I do for you”, try to come up with something you can do that might help and offer that up.
What else would you add to this list? Good luck scoring that next meeting!