When many of us think of LA we get a picture of glitz and glam. Then, the thought often occurs that this is the land of the untouchable or unreachable. You might start to question whether you can even do business here.
How would I start connecting with people?
Thanks to a great talk by Marko Vasiljevic at General Assembly LA; I can tell you that getting to know people here isn’t all that difficult. Marko is the co-founder of Vimify, a fitness startup based in Venice. According to Marko it’s really all about going to local events. His advice is to start with Meetups.
If you haven’t heard of Meetup.com – what a great resource. They have groups with interests ranging from hiking to tech. Heck, they even have a group on how technology is changing the fashion industry. If you’re interested in joining the over 700 members in Marko’s group you can check it out at http://www.meetup.com/VeniceTech/.
Holy overkill Batman; there’s hundreds of events – where do I start?
Let’s concentrate on the tech scene – big surprise, right? If you want to meet people running tech companies the best place to start is Santa Monica. From there, check out events going on in Culver City and Venice. Yup, I said it – Venice! As Marko puts it “Venice is one of those dark horses . . . there’s a lot going on but very few people know about it”.
Don’t put those kicks on just yet
You know what events you want to attend and you’re ready to start having great conversations with some of the awesome startups in your area. Before you head out the door it might be nice to know some of the dos and don’ts of building great relationships out here.
DO share your idea with everyone. I love the way Marko put it – “Your idea doesn’t really mean **** [and] keeping your ideas to yourself will kill them”. Sure, that might seem a little harsh – I believe it’s meant to be. Without lots of action and people excited about your idea – you’re sunk before you begin.
DO learn the lingo. I’m nerd enough to admit that a couple months ago I had no idea what the difference between an incubator and accelerator was in this world of the startup. Take some time to read blogs and other articles in the startup space and in your consumer space.
I want to add a very important note here. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Seriously, people want to help you. What they don’t want is some fake-ass acting like they know something because they’re afraid to look stupid. Trust me, that’s the quickest way to actually look stupid.
DO find ways to give back to the community. I’m not talking about volunteering at the local shelter – though that’s not a bad idea. No, I’m talking about offering to help your fellow small business owner. Don’t be afraid to offer another startup your knowledge and skillset to solve a problem they have – at no charge, bartered, or discounted. Be smart about how you do this and the benefits will come back to you in a big way.
DON’T think that everyone has something you don’t. You have experiences and talents the world needs. Plus, the perspective you hold of those experiences is completely unique to you. That’s pretty cool. Which leads me to the next don’t.
DON’T be afraid to ask for introductions. What good are all your talents and unique perspective if you don’t have anyone to share them with? This is a good time to remember that people really do enjoy helping others.
I could really write a book on everything I learned from Marko; short of that, I guess you’ll just have to get to know him yourself. Hmm, where could you possibly find him? Hint: It starts with meet**.com.
A big thank you to General Assembly LA for hosting this event. What a cool place! You should definitely check them out for any upcoming events. They also have a pretty awesome day job – teaching everything from Business Foundations to Data Analysis.
GA online home: https://generalassemb.ly/