Last month I wrote about some guy that people pay thousands of dollars per month to get access to his “network.” He had reached out to me because he (incorrectly) thought I worked at Newsweek and wanted to connect one of his clients. Obviously this guy isn’t someone you want to be paying to introduce you to people.
Someone I know recently sent me a Facebook message about this very topic. I didn’t respond to the first message (I don’t check FB messages religiously) and he sent a follow up:
This guy isn’t the same buffoon that messaged me about Newsweek. He’s a young entrepreneur trying to figure out if he can make money on the side connecting people to investors.
The answer is no.
Not directly anyway. There are still people out there trying to act as finders for investors, asking for a percentage of the amount raised or some other fee. These aren’t the kinds of people that we or any other investors we know want to interact with, and we ignore them.
There are so many legitimate ways an entrepreneur can get attention from investors. It all starts with knowing at least one person already in the ecosystem, and all of us take cold calls and emails all the time. Show up in Silicon Valley and you’ll make friends quickly, sans a fee. And there are so many channels for first time entrepreneurs to get in front of the right people – Y Combinator and the other incubators, AngelList, etc. If you’re the real deal, someone will bite with just a little bit of persistence.
Showing up in Silicon Valley with a paid networker is like going to a holiday party with a prostitute. People are going to figure it out, and the people you want to be hanging out with are going to shun you. Because you’re with a hooker.
That doesn’t mean you can’t leverage your network, though. That’s the main point of networking. Bringing quality deals to an investor is valuable, and in some cases you can probably talk your way into advisor shares in the startup (people don’t see this as prostitution, for whatever reason). And a young startup just getting attention in Silicon Valley may want to hire you as a consultant outright, either now or later, to help with general marketing and PR.
And of course if you happen to be really, really good at finding and picking quality startups, your track record can get you a job at a VC or angel fund. Or you may even be able to get investors in your own fund directly.
Good luck out there.