Take the next step: Stay connected after the SPN Startup Job Crawl
Jay-Z and Kayne said it best: Crawl 'fore you ball, or better "crawl before you walk." Since you've already "crawled," it's time to ball and put your skills into play now that you've made connections from the Job Crawl.
One week has passed since Silicon Prairie News held Omaha's first Startup Job Crawl, and if you were one of the more than 200 students to join our tour de startups, you probably walked away seeing where the potential lies in the local community for mentors, connections and potential employment.
Now, it's time to sift through the business cards and make the most impact from your networking experience. As a May 2011 college grad, I've learned a little bit about the delicate dance of networking in the startup community — first as a student intern and now as a "real-life" professional. I've put together a few steps I found helpful that may be useful after the Job Crawl to help you stand out among your peers.
- Follow up appropriately - If you met a company at the Job Crawl and haven't already sent a note their way, I'd suggest doing so now. Whether it's a nice-to-meet you email, a shout-out via Twitter or my personal favorite, a hand-written thank you note, put a name to one of the many hireable faces they met that night and distinguish yourself as a contender in their potential applicant pool.
- Work that "student" title - Being a student is a powerful, golden ticket. You can approach companies and express to them that you want to learn more about what they do, and they'll likely make time in their schedule to meet with you, the eager, up-and-coming student. So, it is appropriate to ask for 20 minutes of their time to chat over coffee. It's not weird. It happens all the time. Companies are looking for your budding talent and will be willing (and likely, flattered) to take the time to meet with you if you take the first step.
- Get involved - We list a few really great events on our Silicon Prairie News calendar that have a strong presence and good following. Most events are free, and you get to know many of the active players in the startup scene pretty quickly after an event or two. And the attendees are always open to meeting like-minded students.
Cornstalks, a monthly forum run by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce for those interested in high-growth entrepreneurship, has a steady following and the attendees are always open to meeting more like-minded individuals. Silicon Prairie News also hosts regular meetups throughout the region that are a causal way to introduce yourself to the community. Ten to one, you'll stand out at either event because this crowd rarely sees a large number of students attend these types of events, and they'd really eat up the fact that you took the initiative to get acquainted with the startup community.
- Engage online - Get active on Twitter with more companies and co-founders from the Prairie. I found this pretty helpful when I first started interning at Silicon Prairie News. Hopping into a Twitter dialogue is not only a great way to connect with another voice in community but a great way to make your presence known in a startup scene where Twitter handles are more commonly known than last names.
Here are a few lists I'd suggest following: Omaha Startup Job Crawl list, twitter.com/siliconprairie, twitter.com/silicon-prairie/members and twitter.com/silicon-prairie. Think of it as a more professional way to Facebook creep — you just have to fit the pieces together when you meet in "real life."
- Stay up-to-date - If you met a company that you're interested in working with, follow what they do. Keep an eye out for their blog, Facebook and Twitter updates. Speak up when they launch a new product. Congratulate them when they win an award. Make yourself known as someone who supports their team in an honest and professional way. If you're truly interested in what they do, ask what you can do to volunteer some of your time to help. Even if they aren't quite in a place to bring on interns or full-time employees, showing that you're willing to become involved may be the ticket to get your foot in the door with their growing company.
- Opportunities on the Prairie - Every Friday, Silicon Prairie News posts job openings — from internships to full-time positions — from many of the companies that participated in the Job Crawl and others in the startup community in our region. Look for a wide range opportunities and more information at siliconprairienews.com/opportunities.
If you make a connection from the Job Crawl that leads into a job or an internship, make sure to let us know. We'd love to hear your story.
For more information about Silicon Prairie News Startup Job Crawls, visit siliconprairienews.com/startup-job-crawl. Look for more information in the coming weeks about our April 4 Des Moines Startup Job Crawl.
Credits: Photo by Danny Schreiber.