In addition to getting out of your comfort zone and launching your startup, 3 Day Startup programs are an amazing networking opportunity. Organizing teams bring in top notch mentors to guide you throughout the weekend and line up an awesome panel for you to pitch to on Sunday. In order to make the most of these relationships, take the advice below:
- Bring business cards to exchange. A quick google search of “business cards for students” will provide you with some great examples of how to create professional looking business cards if you don’t have them already. If you’re unable to make any before your program, at least make sure to ask for one from the mentors and panelists before you leave. It’s also good to ask what the best way to stay in touch is; for some people, email might work best and others might tell you to tweet them with any questions.
- Follow up on Monday. The rule of thumb here is to follow up with a professional contact within 24 hours of meeting them. Since you’ll be spending the entire weekend with many of the mentors and meeting the panelists on Sunday, take some time on Monday to reach out to them via email or connect on LinkedIn. Keep it short and to the point with something like, “Hi Mike, Thanks so much for spending time at our 3DS program this weekend. Your feedback on our app’s design was so helpful before our pitch on Saturday night. I look forward to staying in touch!”
- Connect on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, you need to create one immediately. Connecting with a professional contact on LinkedIn allows you to see their larger network and stay up to date on what they’re working on. A big mistake many people (students and professionals alike) make is using the standard connection message – don’t do it! Personalize your connection request with something similar to the email above.
- Avoid asking for money/introductions: Of course, the purpose of fostering these relationships is to grow your own network and further your business, but investors will need to know and trust you before introducing you to their contacts and/or giving you money. An old rule of business is: “when you want money, ask for advice. When you want advice, ask for money.” Our opinion on this… always true. Taking the time to form an authentic relationship will pay off in the long run (in multiple ways.)
- Stay in touch. Another good rule of thumb here is to get in touch with your contacts at least 3x per year: once during the Fall, once during the Spring, and once during the Summer. Reach out with a short email that asks how they’re doing and mentions any new initiatives at their company or share an article you think they’d find interesting, and give them a brief update of what’s new in your world, professionally speaking. Building relationships like this (by saying ‘hi’ when you don’t need something and adding value to them) makes it much easier for you to get in touch when you actually do need to ask for something.
The connections you make with mentors and panelists at your program are as invaluable as the knowledge and skills you gain. Make sure you take full advantage of them to maximize your 3DS experience.
If you have any additional questions on professional development, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Program Manager Shayna at firstname.lastname@example.org.