How do I meet other young entrepreneurs/startup-oriented people?

Here’s how I moved from San Francisco to Austin, almost sight unseen, no job, no network.

First, tour all the coworking spaces. Yes, meetups and networking events are helpful and people are there to network but the hosts of collaborative spaces are in the business of connecting people. Find the couple that suit you, in different parts of the city, and join them part time. Spend only a couple days a week at each.

Second, spend the rest of your time working from the best coffee shops in your town. Find those that attract the entrepreneurs. In this case, you want to be more fluid – find the 5 or 10 and change your locations frequently.

Why have you started this way?

  1. As I suggested, the coworking spaces are hosted by people that network and want to foster networking but more, they are the spaces where the best of those networking events tend to take place. Relationships with that part of your community are gold because they pay off in dividends.
  2. Coffee shops is about recognition. Yes, you’ll meet some people. What most don’t realize is that humans are far better at facial recognition than names. It’s easier to see people you might know than remember people you’ve meet. You want to become familiar. Meet a few people… great! Become familiar with hundreds, whom will be at those networking events, and you’ll seem strangely like you fit in even though you don’t really (yet) know anyone.

Now, consider the culture you’re in. Is it more social or professional? Here’s what I mean… Silicon Valley is INCREDIBLY professional. Yes, people go out, party, socialize… don’t misunderstand me. People there tend to network at bars, happy hour, etc. for the sake of meeting people that can benefit their business. How do you know? The first question you’ll be asked is, “What do you do?” Alternatively, Austin is the opposite. Incredibly entrepreneurial (arguably more than Silicon Valley), people are social first. You’ll likely never be asked what you do for a living.

Here’s why that matters… the type of networking events which should get your attention.

If a professional culture, go to the learn-based events at hot entrepreneurial venues. People are there to network (for their own sake) and that professional setting results in the most value.

If in a social culture, you’re going to find that such events aren’t a good for networking. Go to them to learn something, but people aren’t there to network… we’re going to do that later. Instead, go to the large social events and local (neighborhood) community events. Why? People in such social cultures favor life, living, and what they can do for you. Network at scale at the large events (where people will now have this suspicion that they’ve met you before…) and at the more local events where your neighbors, community, and local organizations will work their ass off to help you… presuming you want to do the same for them. Icing on the cake… the time you spent getting to know the coworking spaces leaves you with a few key connections that now know you, what you need, and with their knowledge of the community and the network at large, they’ll help you find the right places and events for you.