This post was first featured on Life Hacker in 2012. 8 years later, we can absolutely say this advice still rings true. Some of our best friendships have developed through this mentality of getting to know people and helping out where we can. Read the original post here: https://lifehacker.com/make-friends-not-contacts-5928461
While working on Wedgies and Codingscape, I’ve had the chance to make a lot of friends. And I’ve learned some important lessons about how to be a friendly startup and have seen it pay off in small and big ways.
Exchange Twitter Handles Instead of Business Cards
The only reason to ever hand out a business card is to put it in the gold fish bowl at a Chinese buffet. People leave these events with pockets full of cards and never remember who they belong to. With a Twitter handle you can continue engaging long after the event is over. Also, Twitter is great for making intros.
Make Friends With the Person Next to You
Waiting in a long line to meet a speaker or pitch a famous investor? Standing in a lunch line or waiting for the rest room? Turn around and start talking to the person next to you while you wait. You probably have more in common with them than you do with the person at the end of the line. And you have a better chance of finding someone cool to go to dinner with next to you than at the end of a line.
Realize When Someone is Trying To Help You
I made this mistake at Startup Festival when I had an opportunity to ask an investor some questions.
Investor: “How can I help?”
Me: “Well Wedgies is a simple….”
Investor: “No, I mean how can I help?”
Me: “We want to revolutionize….”
Investor: “I want to help, what can I help you with?”
He wasn’t asking for a pitch. He didn’t want to be sold. But he has a wealth of knowledge and was willing to share it with me. All I had to do was ask him a question. And I did. And the conversation that followed blew my minds. I’m glad he was patient.
Don’t Ditch Someone That Wants to Hang Out for Someone That Doesn’t
Spend an evening eating, drinking, and conversing with new friends and you will be pleasantly surprised how you can help each other down the road. Are you headed to dinner or drinks after a conference or event? Invite someone to go with. You can figure out the tab later.
Because you aren’t anyone else. Help other people and they will find ways to help you.
Do you have other tips for moving beyond just collecting contacts?
Jimmy Jacobson is a partner at Codingscape. Previously he was the tech co-founder at wedgies.com before selling the company. Jimmy’s been a full stack developer at Overstock.com and Zappos.com. He’s a lover of hackathons and Startup Weekends.