The definition of networking is going to change depending on who you are. I feel that it’s intrinsically tied to one’s definition of success. At its core, networking is finding people you’re interested in, be it for whatever reason you have. Maybe you’re looking for a job, or need a recommendation letter written. What does your startup need? Who will help you get this done? It’s figuring out what people are successful (according to your definition) and seeing how they can provide value to you.
I like going by this rule; network with the good, not the great. There’s a big dichotomy between having great achievements and being a good person. Ask yourself: What can this person do for me? Someone can be a great person who’s done a lot of great things, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good person to have in your circle. Enrich yourself by seeking good people, enrich your career by seeking great people. Not everyone will be able to help you or your startup, find who will provide value to your situation.
Working with PetCode really got me into the notion of coffee chats. I used to think of networking as just reaching out to people on LinkedIn or typing out cold emails. At a certain point, I was receiving more chat requests than I was sending. I was fed up with the outreach process. I eventually chose to make my Calend.ly link public. Since then have helped 105 coffee chats with people from all over the world.
I found the best way to go about networking is by asking thought-provoking questions. Everyone’s story is different, this is what makes networking so fundamental.
I found PetCode in a very unconventional way. The co-founders reached out to me after a Hack-A-Thon, and it’s been one of my biggest opportunities yet. As a startup, you’re looking at every situation as a way to grow your company. Getting involved with a startup made me realize how crucial it is to constantly seek these opportunities. Cold emailing is just the tip of the iceberg. Extending beyond that was one of the biggest networking shifts I’ve experienced. Being involved in a startup highlights the value of putting yourself out there, allowing others to connect with you.
BETA Camp taught me the power of community. Given BETA Camp is a virtual entrepreneurship program, the initial summer 2020 cohort was filled with a crazy variety of personalities and people. Interacting with students from all over the world helped me solidify the type of person I wanted to network with. When you’re with so many people, you learn to read the crow, determine who is legit and who isn’t.
Being that we all became founders at BETA Camp, everyone went through the lesson of how networking ties back to your company. We had hand-picked industry mentors, what we did with that was up to us. We were given a community of high-achieving high school students, how would we take advantage of this? Reiterating what I said earlier; find unconventional opportunities. Who is going to bring value to you? Whether or not you find these loopholes
can make or break your career or startup
Every person offers a unique set of skills. BETA Camp taught me how to navigate through this maze and judge who you want in your circle.
I reaped some great opportunities via networking at BETA Camp. Camp Director Ivy Xu connected me with her husband, Owen Wang, and I became an intern with his startup. Knowing the right person can change everything. This is why I made my Calend.ly public, it isn’t enough to decide what value someone can provide solely based on paper credentials.
Put yourself out there. LinkedIn is conventional in every way, the people who you want to connect with already have filters. But my biggest message is that networking can come from anywhere.
Where is anywhere? Everywhere! Tech Twitter, discord communities, find the places where people wouldn’t expect the traditional “networking” and you’ll have a better end result. This aside from cold emails, outside the norm.
Ashley Qian participated in BETA Camp in Summer 2021. Amidst strict lockdowns, Ashley found a community of driven and ambitious students that made her braver, and more ambitious. Ashley is now working on a project that helps dementia patients through virtual reality, alongside a new role as chapter development officer for Ontario DECA.
Incoming high school senior, creative agency founder, and BETA Camp alumni Jane Wu tells us about her experiences in entrepreneurship— from prototypes of sanitization products to newsletters and graphic design.
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