Originally from the Startup Magazine Premium
Attending real world networking events can be inconvenient, having to be in a particular place at a particular time. These events are often exhausting, time consuming and are inappropriate for finding immediate answers to your most pressing questions. Engaging in online communities, however, may be the solution to this by cutting through the small talk and getting straight to the answers. Likeminded members of online groups can help to answer questions and make connections that help your progress, without the inconvenience of being in a particular place at a particular time. Here are the places you need to be connecting online.
Reddit is the king of communities, ranging from the diehard Arrested Development fans to the Photoshop masters who can edit Vladimir Putin into a full figure skating leotard. There are however, hundreds of subreddits dedicated to serious topics, one of them being r/startups.
This subreddit is a forum with people in the startup community posting jobs, questions, advice, and anything else that could potentially help fellow entrepreneurs. Much like the culture of Reddit in general, r/startups prohibits people selling their products within the group. This eliminates the heap of spam you can get in Facebook groups where only a small percentage of posts are helpful and the rest are adverts or pleas for clicks. If you’d like to get even more specific, r/startups features a column of suggested subreddits like r/entrepreneur, r/marketing, and r/venturecapital. Reddit can be a fantastic place to find niche communities, thought-provoking posts, and users that can turn into some valuable connections to have in the future.
Slack has evolved beyond a tool for teams to communicate with one another internally, into an essential platform for communicating with likeminded people all over the globe. Take the #startups channel, managed by Startup Foundation, with over 1,500 members and 27 specific channels, there are plenty of discussions to either get involved with or simply read through.
There is an application process to get access to the group with a one time €20 fee. Startup Foundation says this is to ensure that you are committed to making a valuable contribution to the growing community. Though a little more exclusive than other startup communities, #Startup offers a level of depth and knowledge that is hard to come by.
A smaller community specific to the Greater London area is #TechLondon, with over 1200 members and more than 25 channels. You can meet people on #skillshare that are willing to help you out on your project, or get some exercise advice on #health-fitness when the startup life is taking a toll on your body. A great place to start can be on #introductions where you could potentially meet your next co-founder, developer, or mentor. Getting involved is key and making your voice heard in a smaller community can be easier and more fruitful.
Every company has a Google+ account to ensure they don’t lose out on whoever might be on the network, but is it really particularly popular? Generally, its the social media outlet that gets little attention, lacking enthusiasm from the public who would rather stick to Facebook and Twitter.
Google’s Communities however can be very useful. With plenty of options, such as Entrepreneurs & Startups as well as location specific communities like Startup Australia, Google+ provides extensive choice. The difference between Facebook groups and Google Communities rests in the culture behind the two. While adding someone on Facebook to build a relationship or ask them questions may be too upfront, Google+ is different. More business and network oriented, adding someone to your circles or contacting them can be more appropriate and therefore get you further in terms of connecting online.
All things considered, a face-to-face networking event and online forums/communities cannot be treated as the same animal. Learning the specific conventions and cultures of both is essential to being successful in growing your network. The key is therefore to balance both. Attending a informal networking events like Silicon Drinkabout, engaging in hackathons or participating in networking can expose you to great people, but to answer your specific question on finance might require a helpful internet user willing to comment on your post. The combination of the two will ultimately lead to a depth of knowledge and understanding to help you succeed as an entrepreneur.