Chris McCann's Personal Blog

Life's too short to not do awesome things

Why getting involved in groups matter

with 13 comments

I often get asked this question: “how do I become involved in the startup and technology industry?” or more generally “how do I get involved in my industry?“.

I would suggest two things:

  1. Go to events and start meeting people in your industry face to face.
  2. Get involved and help out any organization, group, program, event, or association that provides value in your industry.

The second one being less obvious but just as important.

Imagine being at an industry event and meeting someone for the first time. Which of these two scenarios would you respond better to:

  • If I’m talking to you at an industry event and say, I would really love to connect and pick your brain to learn more about our industry. Are you interested in having coffee sometime next week?
  • If I’m talking to you at an industry event and say, I am helping run the events at my universities entrepreneurship program this year and I’d love to get your opinion & feedback on our programs we’re running this year. Are you interested in meeting for coffee sometime next week?

In this hypothetical situation, who would you rather have coffee with?

When you meet someone new in your industry it is 10x better to have a purpose for being there as opposed to just casually wanting to meet new people. This is a huge shortcut you can use to get involved more efficiently and help out, all at the same time.

The only caveat to this strategy is it has to be genuine. You have to actually help the industry group you choose to achieve its mission, and the organization has to be providing value to the community in your industry. You have to do your time, effort, and genuinely pay-it-forward by helping others.

Do this and you’ll find it so much easier to get involved in which ever industry you are in.


Written by Chris McCann

February 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm

13 Responses

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  1. Reuben likes this.

  2. I totally agree with the contrast between Scenario 1 vs. Scenario 2. Also, I hate the phrase “pick your brain.”


    February 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

  3. i think when you are in school, you don’t know much about any industry and wanting learn more about it in general is legitimate. Once you’re out of school and at an industry event it’s reasonable for people to expect you to know something about the business, so the situation changes.

    eileen at FamiliesGo!

    February 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    • Ya if you are a student people would cut you some slack. However you would get 10x further if you were a student involved in a program or group asking for feedback. I’d give so much more time to an involved student who is working on something as opposed to not.

      Chris McCann

      February 10, 2013 at 1:25 am

  4. Chris, I am a startup CEO and new to the Bay area. I would love to hear your thoughts on fundraising. Can I pick your brain over a cup of coffee?

    Jake Diner (@JD_Hashomer)

    February 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm

  5. So well said, I can’t agree more. Meeting people in person and telling them something relevant about what you are doing where they can be a part of is significantly more special than saying, let’s have coffee .. although the latter works too :-), sometimes.


    February 8, 2013 at 11:02 pm

  6. Hey Chris,

    Hope all is well! Always dig your weekly reading list; I routinely find I’ll be enthralled by a gem or two from your recommendations. Thanks for putting it together!

    On a different note, I’m wondering what lists our resources you use to find interesting articles? I’m a huge fan of Hacker News but am often only attracted to the off-the-beaten-path topics (ie., did you know men used to wear skirts and high heels? (uhh, of the horse-riding variety)) or founder’s stories posts. Thanks, man!


    – Aaron

    Aaron Gerry (@AaronGerry)

    February 11, 2013 at 1:19 am

    • Ah that’s a hard question.

      The hard answer is I just read way to many things for my own good and try to pick out the ones I find interesting. I think it also helped that I was forced to publish a list of articles every week.

      The easier answer is I mostly use HN, follow key people on twitter, quora, and subscribe to a few people who build stuff in the industry.

      Another big point I’d be aware of though is make sure you are following people who are actively building and doing things not just writing news and talking about it. In psychology terms find the “community of practice” for the areas you are interested in and follow that community.

      Chris McCann

      February 11, 2013 at 4:34 am

  7. Hi Chris – love your writing and your work, but to be fair, you didn’t quite answer the question of “why” get involved. Personally I find that connection to one’s industry allows you to speed up your own progress, whether you are learning from other’s successes or challenges, asking for advice or paying it forward by providing advice. Collectively we can go faster and higher. Plus the journey is more enjoyable – shout out to all the cool, inspiring people I’ve met along the way!


    February 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm

  8. […] To read the rest of this article, please visit: Chris McCann’s Personal Blog […]

  9. hi i am kaea and i am going to make a blog too


    March 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm

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