Common knowledge early on in a VC career focuses on events: panels, discussions, fireside chats, conferences, you name it. But these are really wasteful.
You rarely meet quality contacts in the audience, so you're after the speakers. But at 2-3 hours per event, getting to speakers can cost you up to 45 minutes per speaker (depending on how many there are).
I found a different method much more effective: just message people! If you write a thoughtful, personalized cold email – or engage effectively on Twitter – then your chances of a quality meeting are much higher than bugging someone after their panel. It's pretty easy to guess email addresses and find handles, and it's way more efficient.
Turns out people respond to messages if you write them with care. I started out by emailing 1-2 people each at the 50 top funds in NYC, and more than 70% responded within a few weeks. Those meetings created relationships as real as any other method of getting your foot in the door.
This is not a brag: it's a knock on the traditional way of meeting people. In an age dominated by digital communication and amazing opportunities for interest-based connection, there's a better way to network. But I think that high response rate was likely also due to another factor: there's way more capital in the ecosystem these days.
As a Data Scientist, I'm biased towards data having a positive impact on the venture community. I'm also biased towards this future because I think venture is a supply game, not a picking one.
Question your assumptions. For those who draw a straight line from operating to investing, I'd consider a few things:
You can make thoughtful suggestions, offer meaningful help to your investments, and be someone who entrepreneurs want to work with without having been in their shoes. There are plenty of big name VCs who have done that, and there will be plenty more when it's all said and done.
That's it! I hope you liked this, and feel free to share it if you did.